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What is Stamp Duty and when is it charged?

Stamp duty is a tax payable on transactions involving land. This is the common name for what is now Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) in England and Land Transaction Tax in Wales. The two taxes are broadly similar although rates differ. This page will refer to the position in England only unless otherwise stated.

It is termed ‘stamp duty’ as originally a stamp would be impressed on the deed to show the amount of tax that had been paid.   Now the tax is payable on the ‘transaction’, and is charged to the whole of the money paid for the land or property concerned, whether this is evidenced in a deed or not.

This tax regime has become extremely complex with different regimes for England and Wales, different rates for residential and non-residential property, for individuals and companies, plus a surcharge or higher rate payable on the purchase of second or additional properties. There are various reliefs including First Time Buyer Relief, Multiple Dwellings  Relief, and the ‘main residence exemption’ which applies to the surcharge. Special rules also apply to ‘linked’ transactions and where there are ‘connected’ parties, amongst others.

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