Major Reform of Stamp Duty Land Tax may help a flagging housing market

James Skellorn


What News for Farmers in the Autumn Statement? – Good news for farmers with the major reform of Stamp Duty Land Tax 

The major reform of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) may help to revive a flagging housing market just in time for the election, but the key point for farmers is that new high rates of Stamp Duty (10% on value between £925,001.00 and £1.5m and value in excess of £1.5m taxed at 12%) apply only to residential properties. Farms qualify as ‘mixed residential and commercial’.

A substantial farmhouse, which if bought for £2m on its own would prompt SDLT at 12% on the top slice of value, but suffers SDLT at only 4% if purchased as part of a farm. By contrast, a farm worker’s cottage, which if purchased separately for £200,000 would attract SDLT of £1,500, if purchased as part of a substantial farm (costing, say £1m) will suffer SDLT of £8,000. Swings and roundabouts…

Whether this will create a market for farmhouses with 20 or 30 acres of land, which are sold as farms, and attract the lower rate of SDLT, remains to be seen.

The next point of interest to anyone with some savings, is a change to the rules for ISAs. Previously, if one of a married couple died, his or her ISAs lost their ISA status when they passed to the surviving spouse. Now if one spouse dies, the surviving spouse benefits from an increase in his or her ISA allowance equal in value to the value of the ISAs of the late spouse. The surviving spouse can have the ISAs transferred over and preserve their tax free status. Note that ISAs always have been able to pass free of inheritance tax to a surviving spouse as they are covered by spouse exemption (like all other property passing between spouses).

A final point is a new tax relief for businesses which contribute to a partnership funding flood defence scheme. The i