Make sellers pay stamp duty, senior industry figure suggests

Posted on Thursday, January 14, 2021

One of the most respected figures in the industry, trainer and consultant Richard Rawlings, is suggesting that stamp duty should be paid by the vendor not the buyer.

His suggestion - in a comment left on a stamp duty story here on Estate Agent Today - reopens the debate just as much of the industry is calling for the current stamp duty holiday to be expected.

Rawlings writes: 

“Why not have SDLT paid by the seller? For the following reasons:

  1. The seller has usually made a considerable capital gain, which is otherwise tax free.
  2. The seller is more likely to be able to afford it than the buyer.
  3. The buyer would have a higher deposit and therefore qualify for better mortgage deals and have a greater choice of homes to buy, or:
  4. The buyer would require a smaller mortgage, making home ownership slightly more affordable.” 

And he asks: “What's the downside? (Apart from the fact that the seller would have higher apparent costs, which might put pressure on agency fees, unless deflected well by the agent).”

He concludes: “No matter who pays the SDLT, it all comes out of the same pot eventually! But it would seem more equitable for this to come from the seller.”

Rawlings is not the first figure to suggest a switch of liability from buyer to vendor.

Back in 2019, during the Conservative Party leadership election, Boris Johnson - ahead of becoming Prime Minister of course - hinted that he agreed with the trade group the Association of Accounting Technicians, which was calling for such a switch.

At the same time Conservative MP Sajid Javid - who was Chancellor before Sunak, and who became a supporter of Johnson for leader when he himself dropped out of the race - speculated in an interview in The Times that there could be a move towards sellers paying SDLT.

However, it appears that Javid spoke out of turn at the time: within 48 hours he had done a U-turn and denied that such a switch was an option.

via Estate Agent Today