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Scottish Conservatives set out stamp duty cut for all

18 Dec 2014

The Scottish Conservatives have unveiled their plan for a fully-funded tax cut for all low and middle-income homebuyers in Scotland.

Ahead of negotiations on the Scottish budget, the party will call for an extra 3000 families to be taken out the tax associated with buying a property.

The Scottish Conservatives back a starting rate of tax at £140,000 – higher than the SNP’s proposed stating rate of £135,000. That would mean 46 per cent of house purchases would be tax free.

In addition, the plans will also involve a tax cut for those trying to climb the property ladder.

The “eye-watering” tax on homes between £250,000 and £500,000 would be halved from 10 per cent to five per cent.

Taken together, this means 100 per cent of households would be better off, or the same, compared to the Scottish Government’s proposals.

And compared to the UK system, the Scottish Conservative plan would mean 97 per cent of transactions, including all those below £500,000, will leave house-buyers better off.

The tax cut – worth around £90 million to Scottish taxpayers – is fully costed.

It is affordable thanks to the changes to the Scottish Government’s funding as a result of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement.

The proposals follow the SNP’s plan to introduce a new Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) on property from April, which will replace stamp duty.

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Gavin Brown said:

“We are about helping people who want to get on in life.

“This is a tax cut for families and first-time buyers who want to get on the property ladder.

“And it’s also a tax cut for people wanting to move up the property ladder.

“The SNP has to act now. Scottish families are in danger of having to pay a heavy tax on home-buying purely because this left-wing SNP government thinks it knows best about how to spend our money.

“We cannot have a situation where ordinary families are paying higher tax rates than the rest of the UK for no good reason.

“This is affordable, it’s fair and John Swinney now needs to change his ill-judged plans for a tax on aspiration.

“He needs to join us in helping low and middle-income people who dream of owning their own home, or of getting a bigger house for their families.”

Notes to editors:
Our plans mean someone buying a house worth £140,000 will pay no tax at all on the purchase of that house.
Someone buying a £295k house would pay £2,350 less (£4,450 vs. £6,800) than the SNP’s proposals. Someone buying a £350k house would pay £5,100 less (£7,200 vs. £12,300).
Also, compared to the UK system, anyone buying a house under £506,000 would be better off under our plans – 97% of all transactions.
The raised threshold costs £4.7m. The extra band costs £86.9m. Combined cost is £91.6m.
The tax cut is possible thanks to the Chancellor’s stamp duty cut, which will see the block grant reduced by a much lower amount – meaning the Scottish Government does not have to collect as much.
In addition, the Scottish Government received substantial Barnett Consequentials following the autumn statement, some of which can also be used to fund a tax cut.
Below are more details on LBTT transactions:
The stamp duty/Land and Buildings Transaction tax bands are as follows.
New bands as announced at the Autumn Statement
£125,000 no tax
up to £250,000 – 2%
up to £925,000 – 5%
up to £1.5m – 10%
Above – 12%
New bands proposed by the SNP Government, to go live in April 2015
£135,000 no tax
up to £250,000 – 2%
up to £1m – 10%
Above – 12%
Scottish Conservative proposals
£140,000 no tax
up to £250,000 – 2%
up to £500,000 – 5%
up to £1m – 10%
Above £1m – 12%
The Scottish Government’s proposal for a 10% marginal tax rate on properties over £250,000 has caused concern across many parts of Scotland.
After the Autumn Statement, though, the case for changing the proposed LBTT rates becomes even stronger, because it is now entirely affordable.
The size of the tax being devolved is smaller. The block grant will be reduced by a lower amount which means the Scottish Government does not need to collect as much.
“The associated reduction in the Scottish Government’s block grant will be around £80 million smaller in 2015-16 as a result of changes in SDLT.”  Autumn Statement 2014, page 69
So if the Scottish Government’s own principle of fiscal neutrality is adhered to, a reduction of around £80 million should be enacted.