Category: Stamp Duty

Make sure you take into account stamp duty if you’re looking to buy a commercial property.

Stamp duty land tax on non-residential properties

Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) is payable in England and Northern Ireland on the purchase of property over a certain price. It applies equally to residential and non-residential properties, although the rates are different. Stamp duty land tax is devolved with land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT) applying in Scotland and land transaction tax (LTT) applying in Wales.

Non-residential property

As the name suggests, non-residential property is property other than that which is used as a residence. This includes commercial property, such as shops and office, agricultural land and forests. The non-residential rates of SDLT also apply where six or more residential properties are brought in a single transaction.

Mixed use properties

The non-residential rates of SDLT also apply to mixed use properties. These are properties which have both residential and non-residential elements. An example of a mixed use property would be a shop with a flat above it.

Rates

SDLT is charged at the appropriate rate on each ‘slice’ of the consideration. No SDLT is payable where the consideration is less than £150,000, or on the first £150,000 of the consideration where it exceeds this amount.

The rates of SDLT applying to non-residential properties are shown in the table below. They also apply to the lease premium where the property is leasehold rather than freehold.

Consideration SDLT rate
Up to £150,000 Zero
The next £100,000 (i.e. the ‘slice’ from £150,001 to £250,000) 2%
Excess over £250,000 5%

Example

ABC Ltd buys a commercial property for £320,000. SDLT of £5,500 is payable, calculated as follows.

On first £150,000 @ 0% £0
On next £100,000 @ 2% £2,000
On remaining £70,000 @ 5% £3,500
Total SDLT payable £5,500

New leasehold sales and transfers

The purchase of a new non-residential or mixed use leasehold property triggers a SDLT liability on the purchase price (the lease premium) and also on the annual rent payable under the lease (the net present value). The two elements are calculated separately and added together.

The lease premium element is calculated using the rates above, while the rent element is payable at the rates in the table below. No SDLT is payable on the rent if the net present value is less than £150,000.

Net present value of the rent SDLT rates
£0 to £150,000 Zero
£150,001 to £5,000,000 1%
Excess over £5,000,000 2%

Existing leases

SDLT is only payable on the lease price where an existing lease is assigned.

SDLT calculator

HMRC have published a handy calculator on the Gov.uk website which can be used to work out the SDLT payable on a commercial transaction. It can be found at www.tax.service.gov.uk/calculate-stamp-duty-land-tax/#/intro.

Scotland and Wales

The rates of LBTT payable on the purchase of non-residential properties in Scotland can be found at www.revenue.scot/land-buildings-transaction-tax/guidance/calculating-tax-rates-and-bands and the rates of LTT payable on the purchase of non-residential properties in Wales can be found at https://gov.wales/land-transaction-tax-rates-and-bands.

Partner note: FA 2003, s. 55, 56.

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SDLT and first-time buyers

Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) is payable where you buy a property in England or Northern Ireland and the amount paid is more than a certain amount. SDLT does not apply in Scotland, where Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) applies instead, nor in Wales, where Land Transaction Tax (LTT) is payable.

As far as residential property is concerned, the rates depend on whether a person is a first-time buyer or not and whether the property is a second or subsequent property. The current residential threshold is £125,000. However, a 3% supplement applies to second and subsequent homes where the purchase price is more than £40,000. Relief is available for first time buyers.

First time buyer rates

Since 22 November 2017, first time buyers buying a residential property do not pay any SDLT if the purchase price is less than £300,000. Where the purchase price is between £300,000 and £500,000, first-time buyers pays SDLT at the rate of 5% on the excess over £300,000. First-time buyers buying a property for more than £500,000 do not get any relief – instead they pay the normal residential rates.

Case study 1

Kieran buys his first flat for £200,000. As the consideration is less than £300,000 and he is a first-time buyer, no SDLT is payable.

Without the relief he would have paid SDLT of £1,500.

Case study 2

Orla is a first-time buyer. She buys a two-bedroom cottage costing £420,000. She benefits from first-time buyer relief, paying SDLT at 5% on the excess over £300,000. She must therefore pay SDLT of £6,000 (5% (£420,000 – £300,000)).

Without the relief, she would pay SDLT of £11,000. She saves £5,000 as a result of the relief for first-time buyers.

Case study 3

Connor and Daniel are first time buyers. They buy a flat in London for £700,000.

As the purchase price is more than £500,000, they do not benefit from first-time buyer relief. Consequently, SDLT is calculated at the normal residential rates as follows:

On first £125,000 @ 0% £0
On next £125,000 @ 2% £2,500
On next £450,000 @ 5% £22,500
SDLT payable £25,000

Shared ownership schemes

Changes announced in the 2018 Budget with retrospective effect extended the availability of first-time buyer relief to first-time buyers buying a property through a qualifying shared ownership scheme. Relief is available to the first share purchased as long as the market value of the shared ownership property is less than £500,000. No SDLT is payable where the first-time buyer pays less than £300,000 for their share, with SDLT being payable at the rate of 5% on the excess over £300,000 where their share costs between £300,000 and £500,000.

First-time buyers who purchased a property through a shared ownership scheme between 22 November 2017 and 29 October 2018 who did not benefit from the relief can claim a refund. Where the transaction was completed before 29 October 2018, those affected have until 28 October 2019 to file an amended SDLT return.

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Putting property in joint name – beware a potential SDLT charge

There are a number of scenarios in which a couple may decide to put a property which was previously in sole name into joint names. This may happen when the couple start to live together, get married or enter a civil partnership. Alternatively, it may occur if the couple take advantage of the capital gains tax no gain/no loss rule for spouses and civil partners to transfer ownership of an investment property into joint name prior to sale to reduce the capital gains tax bill.

While most people are aware that stamp duty land tax is payable when they purchase a property, they may be unaware of the potential charge that may arise if they put a property in joint names – it all depends on the value of the consideration, if any.

It should be noted that Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) applies to properties in Scotland Land Transaction Tax to properties in Wales.

What counts as consideration?

The problem is that the definition of ‘consideration’ extends to more than just money – it also includes taking over a debt, the release of a debt and the provision of goods, works and services. So, while there may be no transfer of money when a couple put a property in joint names, if they also put the mortgage in joint names, depending on the amount of the mortgage taken on, they may trigger an SDLT charge.

Case study 1

Following their marriage, Lily moves into Karl’s house. They decide to put the property in joint names as well as the mortgage of £200,000. There is no transfer of money, but Lily assumes responsibility for half the mortgage. Lily is a first-time buyer having previously rented.

The valuable consideration is the share of the mortgage taken on by Lily, i.e. £100,000. As this is less than the first-time buyer threshold of £300,000, there is no SDLT to pay.

Case study 2

Anna has several investment properties in her sole name. She is planning on selling a property and expects to realise a chargeable gain of £30,000. As her wife Petra has not used her annual exempt amount, she transfers 50% of the property into Petra’s name to make use of this. There is a £50,000 mortgage on the property, which remains in Anna’s sole name.

There is no valuable consideration and no SDLT to pay.

Case study 3

Following their marriage, Helen moves into her new husband Michael’s home. The property is worth £700,000 and has a mortgage of £400,000. Helen gives Michael £100,000 from the sale of her previous home, which he uses to reduce the mortgage. They then transfer the remaining mortgage of £300,000 into joint name,

Helen had assumed that there would be no SDLT to pay as the £100,000 she had given Michael is less than the SDLT threshold of £125,000. However, the consideration also includes the share of the mortgage taken on of £150,000, so the total consideration is £250,000. As a result, SDLT of £2,500 (on the slice from £125,000 to £250,000 at 2%) is payable.

The whole picture

It is important to look at the whole picture when putting property in joint names – sharing the mortgage may trigger an unexpected SDLT bill.

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