Stamp Duty Cut for Scottish Homebuyers Introduced

Most homebuyers in Scotland don't need to pay transaction tax on the first £250,000 of a property's purchase price, under temporary measures announced in July 2020 by the devolved administrations in the wake of the stamp duty cut in England and Northern Ireland.

Normally, buyers in Scotland pay Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) - equivalent to stamp duty in England and Northern Ireland - on properties costing over £145,000.

Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes announced that this threshold would be raised to £250,000 for buyers in Scotland, with the new threshold in force from 15th July 2020 in Scotland and remaining in place until 31 March 2021.

The news followed Chancellor Rishi Sunak's announcement that the stamp duty threshold would be raised to £500,000 in England and Northern Ireland, also until 31 March.

What is Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and how much does it cost?

This kind of tax is referred to by different names depending on where you are - stamp duty in England and Northern Ireland, land transaction tax in Wales and land and buildings transaction tax in Scotland. But the basic principle is the same - it's a lump-sum tax that you pay when buying a property that's worth more than a certain amount.

Since 15 July in Scotland you'll pay nothing on properties purchased for up to £250,000.

For properties costing more than £250,000, the rates beyond this will remain unchanged - though you'll still make a saving if you buy a more expensive property due to the higher thresholds. So for example, if you currently buy a property for £300,000 in Scotland, you'd pay £2,500 in land and buildings transaction tax (5% of the £50,000 above the threshold) - whereas before the changes, you'd pay £4,600.

How much will buyers save?

The total amount a buyer in Scotland can save under the temporary measures will depend on how much the property costs – as a general rule, the more expensive the property, the more you'll save (up to the maximum of £250,000).

The maximum you could save is £2,100 in Scotland for properties costing £250,000.

But even on less expensive properties the savings may be significant. For example, if you're not a first-time buyer and you buy a property for £200,000 as your main home, you would usually pay £1,100 in Scotland. But with the temporary tax cut in effect, you'll pay nothing.

What if I'm buying a second home?

If you already own a home and you're buying an additional property - such as a second home or a buy-to-let property - worth more than £40,000, you'll have to pay an extra levy. The extra amount you'll pay is 3% of the total purchase price in Wales, England and Northern Ireland, and 4% in Scotland.

However when it comes to the temporary tax cut, Scotland and Wales are taking different approaches on second homes:

In Scotland, if you buy an additional property at the moment, you'll still need to pay the extra 4% but will still benefit from the raised threshold for standard land and buildings transaction tax. So for example, if you buy a second home worth £200,000, you'd pay £8,000 rather than £9,100 in total.

For any questions you have relating to buying a new home and arranging your mortgage, it may help you to seek specialist advice. Our mortgage adviser, Graeme Nichols can provide you with advice on all aspects of mortgages and remortgaging your home.  To find out more please browse some of our information here or contact us today by phone or email for a no-obligation chat.

Source: Naomi Schraer - July 2020 - moneysavingexpert.com