The rules on Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) have changed considerably over the past few years, making professional advice vital for even the most straightforward of property and land purchase transactions.

With the highest rate of SDLT at 15%, unexpected charges can prove expensive – but an understanding of the complex regulations, such as reliefs for first time buyers and owners of more than one property can ensure there are no unwelcome surprises.

We work closely with our other tax specialists to provide comprehensive tax advice that reflects your personal circumstances. So, whether you’re a property developer, private individual, business or charity get in touch so that we can recommend the best tax structure for you.

I own a residential property overseas, but am buying my first home in the UK, will I have to pay the 3% surcharge?

When looking at the 3% surcharge you must consider any residential properties owned, regardless of where they are located. However, in some case property owned overseas may not cause the surcharge to be payable on a UK purchase, perhaps because the overseas property is valued at less than £40,000, or the beneficial ownership sits within another party. There are many types of ownership, such as certain usufruct rights, which mean that the legal owner would not be treated as owning a major interest in the property, so it would not count for the purposes of the 3% surcharge. If you have an overseas property with unusual rights in place it is worth seeking further advice.

If I give my existing home to a family member prior to buying my new main residence, will the 3% surcharge apply?

A replacement of a main residence can be achieved by making a gift of the former main residence, as this still counts as a disposal. However, a gift to a spouse would not avoid the surcharge as neither the purchaser or their spouse can retain an interest in the former main residence in order to be outside the surcharge. Gifts should be considered carefully, as they could create other tax liabilities, such as capital gains tax on disposals, inheritance tax and income tax on future rental income.

My other half and I each own a property, but we both live in my home. We want to buy a new home together, will we be subject to the 3% Stamp Duty surcharge?

The answer here depends on whether you are a married/in a civil partnership or are unmarried. A husband and wife each own a residential property (with neither having any interest in the other’s property) but both live in the property owned by, say, the husband, with the property owned by the wife being rented out. If they sell their main residence and jointly buy a new one the higher rates will not apply to the joint purchase.  As they are married and have both lived in the property owned by the husband as their main residence they will both be treated as replacing their main residence, even though the wife retains the rental property. An unmarried couple (A and B) each own a residential property and both live in the property owned by A, with B’s property being rented out.  If the main residence is sold and they jointly purchase a new one, which will be their new main residence, the higher rates will apply to the joint purchase of a new main residence.  As they are not married (or in a civil partnership) B will not be treated as replacing his main residence as, even though he has been living in the property owned by A, he has no interest in the property A is selling.

I am buying the house next door in order to extend my home

The higher rates will apply as following the purchase you will own an additional residential property and is this is not replacing your main residence.  Unfortunately, a refund of the higher rates cannot be claimed once the properties have been merged as refunds are only available where a previous main residence has been disposed of.

I do not currently own any residential property but am now buying a house with a granny annex, will I have to pay the 3% surcharge?

There is a special exemption where a “subsidiary dwelling “ is purchased with a house. As long as the smaller dwelling is purchased in the same transaction as the main dwelling, it is valued at less than one third of the total purchase price and it is within the grounds of the main house then you are not treated as buying two dwellings. However, there may still be an opportunity to benefit from multiple dwellings relief, which can lower the overall SDLT bill.

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