10% home purchase tax ‘hurting housing market’

Karen Campbell

Scotland’s 10% tax on home purchases of more than £325,000 — a rate that applies to purchases over £925,000 in England — is having a detrimental effect in “the middle to higher end” of the Scottish housing market, according to trade body Homes for Scotland.

It said the home building industry has expressed its concern over the impact of Scotland’s Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT), introduced a year ago.

Homes for Scotland wants the 5% tax band to be extended up to a price of £925,000, the same as in England.

Responding to a call for evidence from the Scottish Parliament finance committee, Homes for Scotland gave the example of a four bedroom family home in Edinburgh costing £475,000 with a LBTT payable of nearly £21,000 — that’s £6,600 more than what was due under the previous Stamp Duty system and £7,100 more than in England.

“The impact of the new rates and bands varies between market segments but a real additional burden has been placed on some buyers and this is clearly affecting sales as many people are choosing not to move as they find the cost too high,” said Homes for Scotland director of policy Karen Campbell.

“There is also a disproportionate effect in regions such as Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Edinburgh where the average family home commonly exceeds £325,000 …

“Given that people purchasing at the higher end of the market tend to be discretionary movers, meaning they are choosing to move rather than having to because of circumstance, our concern is that, by staying put, they block others from progressing onto or up the property ladder and thus exacerbate the country’s housing crisis.

“That is why we are suggesting that the current five per cent band be extended up to the price ceiling of £925k, mirroring the position south of the border to help ensure Scotland remains an attractive place in which to invest.

“This is all the more important given the fact that LBTT generated lower than expected receipts from housing transactions in its first year, with the gap plugged by income from the non-residential sector.

“It remains to be seen if this could be achieved again given the already evident post-Brexit impact on commercial property investment.”