SDLT change for mixed use buildings

HMRC’s published guidance on the application of the 3% higher rate of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) has been updated. The higher rates of SDLT were introduced on 1 April 2016 and apply to purchases of additional residential property such as buy to let and second homes.

At the time the new higher rates were introduced, HMRC confirmed that where there was a purchase of mixed use buildings consisting of residential and non-residential properties that the 3% higher rate of SDLT applied to the dwelling element.

HMRC’s guidance on this issue was updated on 13 November 2020. The new guidance makes it clear that HMRC’s view has changed and that the 3% surcharge will not apply to the dwelling element. The guidance adds the caveat that the non-residential element of the transaction is neither negligible nor artificially contrived.

This change could allow affected purchasers to claim back any overpaid SDLT on mixed use, multiple dwelling transactions from HMRC within the legal time limits. HMRC’s guidance also suggests that purchasers can now make a non-statutory clearance application in the event of uncertainty over a transaction. 

Property nil-rate thresholds raised in Scotland and Wales

The Scottish and Welsh governments have both confirmed increases in their respective nil-rate thresholds for stamp duty purposes. This follows the announcement of an increase in the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) nil-rate band in England and Northern Ireland as part of the Chancellor’s Summer Economic update.

The Scottish government has confirmed that there will be an increase in its Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) nil-rate band for residential property valued up to £250,000 effective from 15 July 2020, to 31 March 2021.This means that the nil-rate band is temporarily extended from £145,000 to £250,000. The additional dwelling supplement of 4% will continue to apply. LBTT replaced SDLT in Scotland from 1 April 2015.

In Wales, the Land Transaction Tax (LTT) nil-rate will be increased to £250,000 from 27 July 2020, to 31 March 2021. This means that the nil-rate band will be temporarily extended from the current nil-rate band of £180,000. The higher residential tax rate of 3% will continue to apply. LTT replaced SDLT in Wales from 1 April 2018.

As a reminder, in England and Northern Ireland the amount on which no SDLT is payable on residential property purchases has been increased to £500,000 from 8 July 2020 until 31 March 2021. The change sees a substantial increase from the previous nil-rate band of £125,000. Purchasers buying a second residential property will still have to pay the 3% higher rate of SDLT.