Belfast Telegraph

Housing experts in plea for changes to stamp duty

By Claire McNeilly

Calls have been mounting for an urgent reform of stamp duty ahead of today's Budget.

Housing market experts in Northern Ireland said it was time to fix the threshold and described the current system as "an archaic tax structure that distorts the housing market".

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Northern Ireland director Ben Collins has called for Chancellor George Osborne to review the existing 'slab' stamp duty system which taxes a percentage of a home's purchase price according to the value bracket it happens to fall into.

"A major area of concern in the property sector, at present, is the current stamp duty system which is both out-of-date and distorts the market by taxing buyers disproportionately high amounts should they go just one pound over the pre-set thresholds," he said.

"A more intelligent, modern way of taxing property sales is needed," he said.

The huge jumps in the current bands are blamed for warping the market.

For instance, a buyer buying a property for under £250,000 would pay 1% of the price in tax, or £2,500. At 1p over the threshold, however, the levy rises to 3%, with a payment of £7,500.

According to RICS, that means many buyers are financially unable to venture above the threshold and vendors may have to price their home below what they may otherwise have sold it for.

Mr Collins is urging the government to consider a fairer, marginal rate.

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