Can the 3% Stamp Duty surcharge be legally avoided?

Friday 27 November 2015  / Ruth Montia

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The 3% stamp duty surcharge has obviously caused debate throughout the industry and some estate agents and accountants are beginning to investigate whether there are legal ways of avoiding the surcharge.

Maskells Estate Agents, Charles Curran of says “We will need to see the detail from HM Revenue and Customs before making our final analysis but our initial thoughts are for second homes, if you’re in a civil partnership or married, it is easy enough to buy a second property in the spouse or partner’s name.  For example, if you spend the week in London and your spouse in the country, each property could be argued as being your primary residence.”

An agent called Henry Pryor has brought to attention through tweeting that 63,000 people in London live at two addresses, sharing their time between homes in different boroughs. Using Census information from 2011 records, he says around 229,803 people have a second home in the capital, and 39,827 homes are used by workers with their main residences somewhere else.

A partner at the London chartered accountancy firm Blick Rothenberg LLP, Frank Nash, has brought to attention that “It is going to be challenging to police the SLDT surcharge for second homes – a purchaser could easily declare the new home as their main residence immediately.”

Another point has been made by tax manager, at Blick Rothenberg LLP Robert Pullen suggesting “This is likely to cause initial spike in house prices as investors rush to buy, but the long term impacts are not known. It could result in even larger rent costs as landlords seek to recover the new tax.”