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Wednesday 7 August 2013

TPA – Stamp Duty Silliness

This week has brought another “campaign” from the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), this time on the topic of stamp duty, which is levied on the purchase price of houses when this exceeds £125,000 (or £150,000 in what are defined as “disadvantaged areas”). To show that the TPA is serious about this issue, its humourless head man Matthew Sinclair has taken personal charge.
More bore from the second floor

Sinclair begins by asserting “More than a quarter of home-buyers are now getting hit with a Stamp Duty bill for £7,500 or more, paying the punitive 3 per cent rate” [my emphasis], before then claiming “Stamp Duty is a challenging obstacle in the way of first-time buyers who dream of owning their own home”, which tells you that this is aimed squarely at those in London and the South East.

That last will not do the TPA any favours elsewhere in the country: one scan of a site like Rightmove will show that there are plenty of properties here in Crewe on which no stamp duty would be payable, and remember folks, we’re an easy commute from Liverpool, Chester, Manchester and Birmingham. First time buyers will wonder what on earth Sinclair and his fellow non-job holders are on about.

Moreover, it does not serve the TPA well to have to cite their own “research”, in this case the so-called 2020 Tax Commission, when trying to justify their claim that stamp duty should be abolished. That particular “research” envisaged public spending at a level last seen in 1939, or to put it in more clearly, it meant abolishing the NHS and forcing individuals to buy their own health care.

This has clearly not deterred Sinclair, who has marshalled the usual TPA spreadsheet overload, going into needless – and endless – detail about the number of homes attracting the 3% stamp duty rate in every council area, then telling how much of the total stamp duty take comes from those properties. It’s the usual tactic: bombard the hacks with more than they’ll read, so they think it’s authoritative.

Sadly, as Full Fact has noted, the effect of stamp duty at the 1% and 3% levels (the latter kicking in when homes sell for £250,000 or more) on the number of houses being sold does not appear to be in any way conclusive. Sales of properties that do not attract any stamp duty at all have declined since 2006 more or less in line with those in the 1% and 3% bands.

No, this is another way of Sinclair being told by all those clever people who talk loudly in restaurants that they can’t get themselves a starter home for less than £250k within their preferred commuting distance of London, and what’s he and his so-called “think tank” going to do about it. Of course, he could just say that more affordable homes should be built, but that would not undermine the Government.

After all, that’s what Sinclair and his pals are really about.

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