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What is Stamp Duty?

Owain Banfield
Written by Owain Banfield
6th November 2018 (Last updated on Wednesday 5th December 2018)

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a duty paid when purchasing a home worth more than £125,000 in England and Northern Ireland. The cost of Stamp Duty is relative to the price of the house, with different rates for each proportion of a home’s cost. Homebuyers in Wales and Scotland must pay taxes similar to Stamp Duty, though with slightly different rates and bands.

Stamp Duty was replaced by the Land Transaction Tax in Wales from 1st April 2018. The Land and Buildings Transaction Tax replaces Stamp Duty in Scotland from 1st April 2015. All of these different taxes follow a similar blueprint, with a set rate between each price band.

In this guide Compare My Move explain all you need to know about Stamp Duty, including the cost, how to pay it yourself, when your property conveyancer will pay it, and how it differs in each country across the UK. Read on for advice about relief for first time buyers, and additional costs of second home owners.

This article will cover the following points

How Much is Stamp Duty in 2018? Stamp Duty for Second Homes How to Get a Stamp Duty Refund Stamp Duty Costs in Wales Stamp Duty in Scotland When Do You Pay Stamp Duty? Who Doesn't Pay Stamp Duty? Save on Your Conveyancing Costs

How Much is Stamp Duty in 2018?

The amount of Stamp Duty Land Tax you’ll have to pay is relative to your house price. It’s based on a series of tax bands on different portions of your total house price. 

As an example, we’ll imagine you’re a homeowner purchasing a property for £300,000. The first £125,000 of this house has a 0% rate, meaning you pay no Stamp Duty on that first portion. The next tax band is 2% between £125,001 and £250,000, meaning you pay £2,500 on this portion of the total house price. The next tax band is 5% between £250,001 and £925,000, so you’ll pay £2,500 on the final £50,000 of your total house price.

So, when purchasing a £300,000 house, a homebuyer will pay £5,000 in Stamp Duty.

Let’s take a look at the cost different Stamp Duty Tax Rates below.

Stamp Duty Tax Rates

Portion of House PriceStamp Duty Rate
Up to £125,000 0%
£125,001 to £250,0002%
£250,001 to £925,0005%
£925,001 to £1.5 million10%
£1.5 million+12%

For a quick way to work out your Stamp Duty, use our Cost of Moving House Calculator to figure out the amount of Stamp Duty you will need to pay.

Stamp Duty for Second Homes

As of April 1st 2016 home buyers pay an extra 3% on any second homes or buy-to-let properties above £40,000. This additional tax does not apply to caravans, mobile homes or houseboats.

This higher rate is calculated by adding 3% to every band of the normal Stamp Duty rates. For example if you purchased a £300,000 second home you'd pay £14,000 in Stamp Duty.

As an additional property, the first £125,000 of this house now has a 3% rate, meaning you'll pay £3,750 on that first portion. The next tax band is now 5% between £125,001 and £250,000, meaning you pay £6,250 on this portion of the total house price. The next tax band is now 8% between £250,001 and £925,000, so you’ll pay £4,000 on the final £50,000 of your total house price. So in total, a £14,000 Stamp Duty bill.

Find the Stamp Duty rates for your second home below.

Second Home Stamp Duty Rates

Portion of House PriceHigher Stamp Duty Rate
Up to £125,000 3%
£125,001 to £250,0005%
£250,001 to £925,0008%
£925,001 to £1.5 million13%
£1.5 million+15%

Currently, this 3% surcharge for second homes is also added to house purchases in Wales and Scotland in their devolved Stamp Duty systems.

How to Get a Stamp Duty Refund

The 3% Stamp Duty surcharge for additional properties may apply when you buy a new home but the sale of your current home is delayed. This technically means you will now own two properties, causing you to pay the 3% extra for owning a second home.

Luckily, you'll be able to apply for a refund of this higher rate of Stamp Duty if you sell your previous main property within three years. You'll need to file for your refund within three months of selling this previous main property, or within a year of filling out your self assessment tax return. 

To apply for the refund, you'll need:

  • Details of the property.
  • The date of purchase.
  • The reference number for the Stamp Duty transaction.
  • The amount of Stamp Duty tax you paid, and an amount for repayment.

You can get more information and download the request form here, and apply for a refund online or via post.

Stamp Duty Costs in Wales

Stamp Duty was replaced in Wales by the Land Transaction Tax on 1st April 2018, though this new duty follows a similar process of different taxation rates for different portions of house price. Much like Stamp Duty, 3% is added to each bracket for second home owners or buy to let. The main difference is the 0% rate applies to houses up to £180,000 in Wales, compared to the £125,000 0% for Stamp Duty.

Through our calculations, the average homebuyer in Wales is better off by £560 from the changes. The bill for Land Transaction Tax is either less or equivalent to Stamp Duty costs up until £402,000, at what point Wales' Land Transaction Tax becomes the more expensive duty. For a full rundown for what this change means, and a comparison between Wales' Land Transaction Tax and Stamp Duty, read our guide to the Wales Land Transaction Tax.

Check out the different rates below.

Land Transaction Tax Rates

Portion of House PriceLand Transaction Tax RateAdditional Property Rate
Up to £180,0000%3%
£180,001 to £250,0003.5%6.5%
£250,001 to £250,0005%8%
£400,001 to £750,0007.5%10.5%
£750,001 to £1.5 million10%13%
£1.5 million+12%15%

Home buyers in Wales can use our cost of moving house calculator to get a rundown of the Land Transaction Tax costs for their move.

Stamp Duty in Scotland

Stamp Duty was replaced by the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) from 1st April 2015. This duty follows a similar blueprint to Stamp Duty, with different taxation rates for different brackets of house price. Like Stamp Duty, second home owners will be charged an extra 3% on every band.

First time buyers in Scotland won't enjoy the same £300,000 Stamp Duty relief as in England, but will likely dodge LBTT thanks to recent changes. For first time buyers in Scotland, the threshold for LBTT rates have been increased from £145,000 to £175,000. This means that any first time buyer in Scotland will pay no duty on houses up to £175,000. This relief was introduced in June 2018.

For a full rundown of LBTT rates, see the table below.

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax Rates

Portion of House PriceLBTT RateLBTT Additional Property Rate
Up to £145,0000%3%
£145,001 to £250,0002%5%
£250,001 to £325,0005%8%
£325,001 to £750,00010%13%
£750,001+12%15%

Movers in Scotland can use our cost of moving house calculator to get full LBTT costs on their house purchase.

When Do You Pay Stamp Duty?

Your solicitor will most likely deal with the Stamp Duty return and payment for you, although it is still something you can do yourself. Either way, it is your responsibility to ensure Stamp Duty is paid on time.

You may be subject to penalties and added interest if you do not pay your SDLT within 30 days of buying your new property.

All forms that need to be filled out can be done so online or over the phone if required. To find out more about completing Stamp Duty Land Tax forms, visit the GOV.UK website.

Who Doesn't Pay Stamp Duty?

You won't have to pay any Stamp Duty if your property costs less than the threshold of £125,000. However, the good news is that there are situations where you'll be exempt from paying Stamp Duty.

Exemptions include:

  • If you're transferring the ownership of a property and no payment is made.
  • If a property is left to you in a will.
  • If the property is transferred as a result of a divorce or the dissolving of a civil partnership.

Save on Your Conveyancing Costs

We hope this guide has helped you understand all you need to know about Stamp Duty, Wales' Land Transaction Tax, and Scotland's LBTT. Whether you're a first time buyer or previous homeowner, use our cost of moving house calculator to help budget all your moving costs, including Stamp Duty and other fees.

When you're ready to move to your dream house, use Compare My Move to find professional, regulated conveyancers and property solicitors. Our network of regulated conveyancers will take care of all legal aspects of your home purchase, including Stamp Duty. Just fill in one simple form and get connected with up to 4 trusted conveyancers and see what you can save.