HM Revenue and Customs have recently issued a consultation on Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) for purchases of:
- Properties which consist of more than one dwelling (this could include for example a property with a granny annex or say a house split into separate flats) or
- Properties where there is both a residential dwelling and a commercial element to the purchase, for example a shop with a flat above or a farmhouse and farm.
It is not currently well known but if you buy a property which falls into either of these categories and make the appropriate claim, the amount of SDLT due could be considerably less than the SDLT due on a single residential property purchase of similar value.
Multiple Dwellings Relief (MDR) and the Mixed Use rules used to be sensible, pragmatic tools for establishing SDLT liability. They worked well when the rates for residential and non-residential property purchases were more closely aligned and residential rates were much lower. They avoided the need for valuations and resulted in SDLT liabilities not very much different to those that would be achieved by applying SDLT to the values of the separate parts of the transaction. It is only now that we have such a wide difference between residential and non-residential rates and that residential rates are so much higher generally that very significant reductions in SDLT liability can be achieved in the right circumstances by making the right claim.
HMRC have now realised that these reliefs are no longer fit for purpose and that the large differences in SDLT liability between properties which are otherwise similar but where one meets the criteria for mixed use or MDR and the other doesn’t, are unfair and encourage “abusive claims”.
The consultation invited views on possible changes to these two areas of the Stamp Duty Land Tax regime. The consultation is now in the review stage, but the likely outcome is that the reliefs will either be removed altogether or at least redesigned to remove the current significant reductions in liability which can be achieved. I anticipate that changes will be introduced in the Autumn budget if not before.
If my experience is anything to go by then many claims are likely to have been missed by purchasers unaware that a claim could be made. This may at least in part be a consequence of the proliferation of transaction-only conveyancing firms who are understandably open about not giving SDLT advice and will ask clients to confirm either that they have taken advice elsewhere or that they don’t require advice. If you think you have recently made or are about to make a purchase which falls into either of these categories and want help considering the merits of making a claim then please contact me.
The information in this article was correct at the date it was first published.
However it is of a generic nature and cannot constitute advice. Specific advice should be sought before any action taken.
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