New homeowners are being warned about cold calls from rogue tax repayment agents advising them to make speculative stamp duty land tax (SDLT) refund claims, which could leave them with large tax bills
The warning comes after a recent spate of stamp duty refund claims to HMRC failed to meet very specific criteria.
The agents have been known to call new property owners after finding them through Land Registry records and property search websites, promising money back on ‘unknowingly overpaid’ stamp duty.
In a recent example, a letter from a rogue agent suggested a homeowner may have overpaid £60,000 worth of stamp duty. The agent claimed the home could be designated as two properties, despite it clearly being one. This is not an isolated example – other cases include:
a claim that a bedroom could be a separate dwelling and in line for claiming ‘multiple dwellings relief’ because it had an en-suite and a built-in wardrobe which could be a kitchen if you added a microwave and a kettle;
an individual who claimed their house was not wholly residential because a paddock behind the garden was used occasionally to keep a neighbour’s horse. The agent advised that they were due lower stamp duty rates because the presence of the paddock made the transaction a mix of residential and non-residential property, which would incur a lower stamp duty payment; and
a new owner of a six-bedroom house claimed it was not a wholly residential property because a room above a detached garage was used as an office.
Recent analysis undertaken by HMRC suggests that up to a third of claims for multiple dwelling relief refunds were incorrect.
HMRC raises enquiries on these claims, but sometimes that is after the agent has taken their fee, leaving the homeowner to pick up the difference. Incorrect refund claims must be repaid with interest, with some potentially facing penalties as well.
HMRC collected £11.6bn in SDLT in 2019 to 2020 and this is set to rise as average UK house prices continue to soar after the pandemic. The average UK house price was £277,000 in February 2022, which is £27,000 higher than this time last year. This figure is £530,000 in London.
Nicole Newbury, HMRC director for wealthy and mid-sized business, said: ‘We are seeing obviously spurious refund claims that are never going to succeed; but will lead to an unnecessary bill for the customer.
‘So we are warning new homeowners not to get caught out by tax repayment agents promising easy money on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We want to help people get it right and avoid unnecessary tax bills, so treat promises of easy money with real caution.’
Anyone approached about a stamp duty refund claim should check with their original conveyancer, take independent professional advice and check HMRC’s guidance by searching ‘stamp duty land tax’ on gov.uk or contact the HMRC helpline on 0300 2003 510.
In a bid to tackle the cost of living crisis, the Chancellor has announced a £15bn package of support with one-off payments for pensioners and lowest income earners, and doubled the £200 energy bill support
The measures will see one-off payments of £650 for low income earners, £300 for pensioners and a further £150 for disabled people.
Stressing that the energy crisis was affecting the majority of people in the country, he also changed the £200 loan for electricity bills, doubling it to £400 and removing the requirement to pay it back.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: ‘To help with the cost of living we are going to provide significant targeted help to those with the lowest incomes, pensioners and the disabled. We will send directly to eight million of lowest income households a one-off payment of £650. The DWP will make the payment in two lump sums, in July and later in the year, and HMRC will make payments to those on tax credits.
‘There is no need for people to fill out complicated forms or bureaucracy – we will send the payment straight into their bank accounts.’
The package also includes support for pensioners and disabled people.
‘From the autumn, we will send over eight million pensioner households who receive the winter fuel payment – an extra, one-off pensioner cost of living payment of £300,’ the Chancellor said.
‘Disabled people also face extra costs in their day-to-day lives – like having energy-intensive equipment around the home or workplace.
‘So, to help the six million people who receive non-means tested disability benefits, we will send them, from September an extra, one-off disability cost of living payment, worth £150.
‘Many disabled people will also receive the payment of £650 I have already announced, taking their total cost of living payments to £800.
‘The most vulnerable will receive support of £1,250.’
The Chancellor also confirmed that benefit payments will rise in line with the September 2022 CPI figure for payments starting in April 2023. In addition, the triple lock will apply to state pensions.
Recognising the extent of the cost of living crisis, the £200 loan for electricity users becomes a grant, and the amount will be doubled to £400 from October.
‘The plan was to provide all households with £200 to help with bills, which was repayable. This support is now unambiguously a grant and the support will be doubled to £400 and not a penny to repay,’ he said.
Energy suppliers will deliver this support to households with a domestic electricity meter over six months from October. Direct debit and credit customers will have the money credited to their account, while customers with pre-payment meters will have the money applied to their meter or paid via a voucher.
This support will apply directly for households in England, Scotland, and Wales. It is GB-wide and there will be equivalent support for people in Northern Ireland.
‘We are raising emergency funds to help millions of the most vulnerable families who are struggling right now,’ the Chancellor said. ‘And all households will benefit from universal support for energy bills of £400 – with not a penny to repay.
‘In total, the measures I’ve announced today provide support worth £15bn.
‘Combined with the plans we’ve already announced…that means we are supporting families with the cost of living to the tune of £37bn or 1.5% of GDP. That’s higher or similar to countries like France, Germany, and Italy.’
Robert Pullen, a partner at Blick Rothenberg, said: ‘After weeks of denials, delay and dithering, the government finally announced a spate of cost-of-living support measures today, ranging from giveaways of £650 per household to converting the previously announced discount on energy bills from a loan to a grant.
‘The total cost of all the measures announced this year is now estimated by HM Treasury to be £37bn, which is equal to the total income tax paid through self-assessment tax returns for 2021/22.
‘Rishi also appears to have learnt from the calamitous administration problems created with previous measures, as we are told the process and paperwork will be far simpler.
‘However, the devil is in the detail and it is possible that many other individuals could miss out on support entirely or receive very little.
‘Whether Rishi will announce further support, or changes to the tax system more widely such as a speculated reduction in the income tax rate or increases to the long frozen basic rate band, which is being severely eroded by inflation, remains to be seen.’
Nigel Morris, employment tax director at MHA, said: ‘While the government has lived up to their promise of evolving their response to the cost of living crisis, as demonstrated by a windfall tax on energy companies and the UK’s energy bill grant doubling to £400, a more rapid rethink on taxes and businesses incentives is urgently required to prevent an impending recession.
‘Reducing the standard National Insurance contribution (NIC) rate back to 12% and lowering the income tax rate from 20% to 19%, even if only temporarily, would provide some much-needed relief for businesses and families across the UK. As demonstrated by the temporary VAT cut from 17.5% to 15% to tackle the 2008 financial crisis, short-term solutions can be highly effective to introduce vital relief and should be considered in the current climate.’
In the run-up to the 31 July renewals deadline for tax credits, HMRC has warned that fraudsters are targeting claimants with scam emails, fake websites, and text messages
The warning comes as in the 12 months to April 2022, HMRC dealt with nearly 277,000 referrals of suspicious contact received from the public.
However, this is significantly less than the 1,154,300 referrals that HMRC received in the lead up to April 2021 and was ‘likely due’ to the higher prevalence of the Covid-19 support schemes.
The tax authority expects around 2.1m tax credits users to renew their annual claims by 31 July 2022 and has issued the warning to remind people about the tactics used by criminals who mimic government messages to make them appear authentic.
The tax authority has also restated that it does not charge tax credits users to renew their annual claims and is urging users to be alert to misleading websites or adverts designed to make them pay for government services that should be free, often charging for a connection to HMRC phone helplines.
HMRC also reiterated that they will not call anyone ‘out of the blue’ as fraudsters use phone calls, text messages and emails to try and dupe individuals, often trying to rush them to make decisions.
The typical style that the scammers use to imitate HMRC includes making phone calls threatening arrest if people do not immediately pay a fictitious tax bill owed or claiming that the victim’s national insurance number has been used fraudulently.
Scammers will also use emails or texts to offer fake tax rebates or Covid-19 grants, they may also claim that a direct debit payment has failed.
HMRC’s cyber security operation team identifies and closes down scams every day. The department has pioneered the use in government of technical controls to stop its helpline numbers being spoofed, so that fraudsters can no longer make it appear that they are calling from those HMRC numbers.
Myrtle Lloyd, director general for customer services, HMRC said: ‘We are urging all of our customers to be really careful if they are contacted out of the blue by someone asking for money or bank details.
‘There are a lot of scams out there where fraudsters are calling, texting, or emailing customers claiming to be from HMRC. If you have any doubts, we suggest you do not reply directly, and contact us straight away. Search gov.uk for our ‘scams checklist’ and to find out how to report tax scams’.
With the cost of living crisis, businesses need to focus on retaining staff and factoring pay increases into overall profitability, explains Stuart Clark, managing director of accountancy firm Russell & Russell
These are hard times all round. Particularly for the generations who have never experienced the inflationary chaos late last century, when interest rates hit 17% and mortgage payments soaked up the bulk of salaries.
That said, it is bad enough now, despite median pay awards to January standing at 3%, their highest for a decade. Employees are being attacked on all fronts, with soaring home energy bills, skyrocketing petrol prices, and startling increases in food – up 13% on average over the past year – and public transport costs.
It is inevitable in this series of financial blows that many employees will turn to their employers to help them weather the storm. And employers who are keen to keep their teams intact will be asking themselves: how can I further increase rewards without damaging the business?
The answer, as in so many otherwise intractable business scenarios, is to know the numbers, analyse them and use them as a clearly signposted pathway towards well-informed decisions.
The first step in considering remuneration policy is to discern what percentage salaries are of the direct cost of sales, and what the effect on the business would be if that percentage were to go up.
Take, for example, a business with a £3m turnover, gross profit of 30% and a net profit of 10% (£300,000).
An across-the-board increase in direct costs of 6.25% – which may consist of increased wages (and the increased employer contributions on this increased salary) and the increased employer National Insurance contributions (NIC) (up 1.25% this year) as well as any other direct material increases – would mean that the firm would have to increase sales by over £500,000 (ie, over 17% to £3.5m) in order to maintain the same levels of net profit (£300,000).
Or it could increase prices by 4%.
On paper it’s a no-brainer. Yes, a hike in prices might lose some custom, but clients are much more accepting of small increases in the current climate – and, with an 8% increase the firm could even afford to lose some customers and still make the same, or more, net profit. More money for less work.
The trouble is that many companies and organisations don’t look at the situation in this light and assume that they can realistically cover the costs of wage increases by the simple expedient of going out and winning more business. That is an unnecessarily hard hill to climb.
Businesses with strong teams and productive individual workers will obviously want to strain every sinew to retain them. Apart from the disruption inherent in frequent staff turnover, the recruitment costs to replace them are significant, with research suggesting an average of £11,000 per employee.
But there are other ways to encourage loyalty and good staff retention rates, such as offering interest-free loans – up to £10,000 is permitted at the moment – to be offset against future wages. This can help employees with, for instance, expensive season travel ticket costs.
Employee Assistance Programmes can also help to make people feel valued and wanted by supporting them with advice on areas such as financial planning and debt management, and perhaps counselling for staff who are struggling to make ends meet. In these trying times, many firms are also offering mental health support.
Bonus schemes are a double-edged sword. While they may be initially welcomed by employees, experience suggests that some staff may quickly feel entitled to them and expect the extra payment simply for doing their job – and become disincentivised if the bonus is withdrawn.
The simplest solution to staff satisfaction is to strive wherever possible to pay the market rate and, if practicable, something over and above.
And, while remaining sensitive to the inflation-fuelled trials that employees face, as well as the 1.25% increase in employers’ NICs, it is not unreasonable for employers to make the case in the workplace that they, too, are under the cosh from unprecedented increases in materials costs, business rates, living wage demands, premises and transport costs, and other margin-eroding pressures.
Responsible employees will take this into account and may be persuaded to exercise restraint if offered a more structured and advanced personal development plan, or a healthier work-life balance. A 2018 study said that 92% of employees felt benefits have a positive impact on overall job satisfaction.
None of these issues are going away anytime soon. UK inflation is at a 30-year high of 9% and may yet go higher.
But employers who are asking themselves if they can afford to lend a helping hand through wage increases should perhaps, more pertinently, be asking themselves if they can afford not to.
n a speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) the Chancellor has promised tax cuts for businesses in the Autumn Budget
The promise, made at the CBI’s annual dinner, was made with the aim to boost investment ahead of the increase in corporation tax from 19% to 25% from April 2023 for company profits over £250,000.
Speaking at The Brewery in Central London the Chancellor stated that in order to get the tax cuts, businesses needed to ‘invest more, train more and innovate more’ as these were areas which Sunak highlighted as the UK’s ‘weaknesses. He added that this was ‘at the centre’ of his economic outlook.
The Chancellor said: ‘In the Autumn Budget we will cut your taxes to encourage you to do all those things. That is the path to higher productivity, higher living standards, and a more prosperous and secure future.’
Sunak mentioned the temporary 50% cut to business rates during the pandemic however added that ‘of course, there’s more to do’. The Chancellor used the speech to thank the CBI for their support during the Covid-19 pandemic and to reassure the CBI of the government’s pro-business history, stating ‘never, ever doubt we are on your side’.
In the Budget last year Sunak said he would increase the UK’s corporation tax from 19% to 25%, which aims to raise around £17bn annually. Small companies will continue to pay the lower 19% rate.
At the same time, the Chancellor also introduced a temporary ‘super-deduction’ for two years which offered a 130% relief on the purchase of equipment which is equivalent to 25p off a company’s tax bill. The move was done to encourage businesses to invest sooner.
The CBI has previously warned about the impact of ending the scheme, stating that capital investment will fall in 2023 as corporation tax rises at the same time. It stated that this will ‘likely send business investment as a share of gross domestic product to the lowest level in the G7’.
In response to the Chancellor’s speech, CBI president Lord Karan Bilimoria also spoke and urged the government to ‘act immediately’ on the cost of living crisis, stating that he is worried by the current trajectory as it will bring businesses ‘the highest tax burden in 70 years’ and ‘will stifle our recovery and growth’.
Bilimoria also urged the Chancellor to help companies to invest by introducing a permanent successor scheme to the super deduction, which he described as a ‘stroke of genius by the Chancellor’ and ‘of the utmost importance’.
He also called on the government to extend a recovery loan scheme to help businesses access finance and eventually create a long-term replacement, and bring forward a UK digital strategy.
The Chancellor closed his speech by stating that the government’s ‘firm plan is to reduce and reform’ business taxes but that businesses needed to their bit too.
Sunak said: ‘I believe our most exciting companies are still to be founded, our most talented people are still to be taught, and our best ideas are still to be discovered.’
The UK’s consumer prices index (CPI) shows inflation reached 9%, up from 7% in March 2022
The rate is the highest level seen in the last 40 years with the consumer prices index rising by 9.0% in the 12 months to April 2022. The recent 2% rise was also the sharpest monthly increase since 1980.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) stated that the 54% increase in the energy price cap in April, which took the average annual gas and electricity bill close to £2,000, was the main reason for the jump in the consumer prices index.
Higher fuel and food prices, driven by the Ukraine war, also pushed up the cost of living up, with inflation expected to continue to rise this year. The ONS also noted that the end of the temporary cut in VAT for hospitality venues, from 12.5% back to the original 20%, has also contributed to the rise.
In his official response to the figures, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: ‘Countries around the world are dealing with rising inflation. Today’s inflation numbers are driven by the energy price cap rise in April, which in turn is driven by higher global energy prices.
‘We cannot protect people completely from these global challenges but are providing significant support where we can and stand ready to take further action.
‘We’re saving the average worker £330 a year through reducing National Insurance contributions (NIC), changing Universal Credit to save over a million families around £1,000 a year, and providing millions of families with £350 each this year to help with their energy bills.’
There has been increased criticism of the government over their ‘lack of action’ to combat the rise of inflation as those who will be hit hardest are lower to middle-income households.
Analysis from the Resolution Foundation found that inflation actually sits at around 10.2% for the poorest tenth of households with the richest tenth having an inflation rate of around 8.7%.
The foundation stated that this is since lower-income households spend a greater share of their family budgets on energy bills where prices are rising sharply.
Azets stated that the current level of inflation is to hit businesses hard as reduced discretionary spending is likely to increase intensely as finances are squeezed.
Donald Boyd, head of growth, Azets, said: ‘My message to businesses is to be brave and have upfront conversations with customers to increase prices to absorb rising costs however, any price rise is far less forgiving in the B2C sector, where retail and hospitality in particular will be first impacted.
‘Whilst it is of little comfort to SMEs and the public, much of the inflationary pressures are resulting from higher household energy prices and fuel costs rather than anything fundamentally unsound in the economy. It may be a case of holding our nerve until inflation peaks at around 10% or above before starting to fall next year.’
The Bank of England (BoE) warned earlier this month that inflation is to leave the UK on the ‘brink of recession’ with expectations that it will peak at over 10% later this year with the further expected rise in the Ofgem’s energy tariff in October.
In a Treasury Committee meeting on Monday, the Bank of England’s chief Andrew Bailey said that the bank was ‘helpless’ when it came to rising inflation as 80% of it was caused by factors that it could not control.
In the UK, inflation spiked from 9.2% in September 1973 to 12.9% in March 1974. Inflation peaked at 24.2% in 1975 and unemployment also climbed sharply.
The knock-on effects of this included the government being forced to ration electricity, frequent power cuts, and an enforced three-day working week.
HMRC has halted the payment of research and development (R&D) tax credits while it investigates irregularities in claims for the relief
HMRC contacted accountancy firms on Monday informing them of the decision to pause the payment of research and development tax credits as it investigates what it refers to as ‘irregular claims’ for the tax credit payments.
In a message to firms, HMRC stated that the move may cause delays to its processing times for other R&D tax credit claims, the tax authority said this will ‘ensure they prevent abuse of the relief’.
The tax authority stated that the majority of R&D tax credit claims are ‘genuine and will not be affected’.
HMRC has also requested that claimants do not contact the R&D helpline/mailbox to chase their claims. Instead, it has asked agents and companies to review their online account for updates on the status of claims.
HMRC confirmed that it will continue to issue the regular Monday agent email to update claimants on the processing times but ‘hopes to share more information’ with agents next week.
In order to process payments more quickly, HMRC has asked people to ‘ensure’ that they have completed all entries on the R&D section of the corporation tax return (CT600 form) adding that ‘submitting additional information to support any claim, such as an R&D report, will also help HMRC to process claims quicker’.
The tax authority also issued the reminder that if a claim that is incorrect, inflated, or fraudulent is submitted then a penalty could be issued.
A HMRC spokesperson said: ‘We have paused some research & development tax credit (RDTC) payments while we investigate some irregular claims.
‘The majority of R&D relief claims are unaffected but there will be some delays to our usual processing times. This is to ensure we prevent abuse of the relief.’
In December, accountancy firm Azets issued a warning to SMEs about rogue R&D advisers who were targeting small businesses and making inappropriate claims.
The firm’s analysis of HMRC’s most recent annual report found that the monetary value of fraudulent R&D claims in 2021 was £303m, which was up from £271m in the previous year.
The firm stated that it expected HMRC to tighten its controls on the relief after the Chancellor announced reforms of the R&D tax credits announced in the Autumn Budget 2021 which are to come into effect in April 2023.
The announced reforms aimed to support modern research methods by expanding qualifying expenditure to include data and cloud costs, refocus support towards innovation in the UK and a raft of measures to target abuse and improve compliance.
Bank of England (BoE) chief Andrew Bailey defended his performance before MPs, stating that there was nothing else the Bank could have done to prevent inflation from rising to double digits
In a Treasury Committee meeting yesterday, when asked whether there was anything the Bank could have done to have shaped monetary policy differently over the last year, Bailey responded saying, ‘I don’t think we could’.
Defending Threadneedle Street before an announcement tomorrow of the sharpest annual increase in interest rates for four decades, Bailey told the Committee that while he was unhappy about the level of price rises, 80% of the inflation target overshoot was caused by factors outside the Bank’s control.
The war in Ukraine, Brexit, and the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular China’s zero-Covid policy, were the three main issues highlighted by the Bank as being the cause of the spiralling rise in inflation rates with the Ukraine war being described as the ‘big one’ due to the cutting off of energy supplies from Russia.
Bailey raised his concerns about food prices stating, ‘What I’m going to sound, I guess, rather apocalyptic about is food’ adding that Ukraine’s inability to export its crops was a ‘major worry for this country’ with Ukraine being one of the biggest producers of grains including wheat, and sunflower oil.
Bailey said: ‘A sequence of shocks like this, which have come really one after another with no gaps between them, is almost unprecedented. I do see comments based on hindsight, but we have to take [monetary policy] decisions based on the facts and evidence at the time.’
The panel did clarify that monetary policy ‘can have an effect’ but there is ‘nothing policy can do about external factors’, adding that ‘interest rates can help to ensure inflation does not become embedded once these initial shocks fade’.
Bailey said: ‘It is a very, very difficult place to be. To forecast 10% inflation and to say there is not a lot we can do about it is an extremely difficult place to be. This is a bad situation to be in.’
Sir Dave Ramsden, deputy governor of the Bank of England added that Brexit was not the only thing fuelling inflation as the EU, UK and the US are all experiencing similar levels, stating that ‘it was hard to disentangle the effect of global supply constraints and Brexit on inflation’.
However, Bailey added that the Bank had not changed its view that Brexit ‘would have a negative effect on trade’ and that ‘it would take a long time for the economy to adjust that, although it eventually would’.
Member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) Michael Saunders added that Brexit has become ‘less of a source of uncertainty’ since the Covid-19 pandemic which is why the Bank focused more on Covid-19 recently.
Bailey also acknowledged that the Monetary Policy Committee had changed its view about the UK labour market stating that it now believes it is ‘very tight’ which is something that it could not predict until after the government’s Covid-19 furlough scheme ended.
When asked whether rates should have been put up last year at times of labour shortages after the furlough scheme ended, Bailey added that it ‘had been a key question at the time’, however it was ‘unclear what the impact of the end of the furlough scheme would have been’ and ‘whether the people who used it would have been reabsorbed in the jobs market’.
Saunders then added that ‘even if the Bank had raised rates more aggressively last year, it’s unlikely that would have brought inflation back down to the target of 2%’.
Bailey’s appearance at the Treasury Committee has come following the aftermath of growing criticism of the Bank’s performance.
However, Bailey stated that no government minister had approached him over monetary policy or the Bank’s independence amidst all the briefings and media coverage over recent weeks.
Bailey stated that ‘the most important thing we can do is to get inflation back to target without unnecessary disruption to the economy’ and implied that the Bank would not shy away from generating a recession to do that if it was necessary.
Bailey added: ‘This is the biggest test of the monetary policy framework in 25 years. There is no question about that, we have to get [inflation] back to target and that is clear.’
The Bank of England has raised the interest rate by 0.25% to 1%, marking the highest rate for 13 years
The rate has gone up by 0.25% from the current 0.75%, and is likely to continue to rise over the next 12 months. The Bank expects the base rate to increase to 2.5% by mid 2023, falling to 2% at the end of 2024.
The current 7% rate of inflation is creating an intensifying cost of living crisis with soaring electricity and gas prices. CPI inflation is expected to rise further over the remainder of the year, to just over 9% in 2022 Q2 and averaging slightly over 10% at its peak in 2022 Q4. However, the Bank then expects inflation to drop back to 2% in 2024.
‘Global inflationary pressures have intensified sharply following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This has led to a material deterioration in the outlook for world and UK growth,’ the Bank said.
These developments have exacerbated the combination of adverse supply shocks that the UK and other countries continue to face. Concerns about further supply chain disruption have also risen, both due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and to Covid-19 developments in China.
Martin Beck, chief economic adviser, EY Item Club said: ‘There is a bit of difference of view in our forecast and what banks are expecting. We do not think there will be a further rise this year, but banks expect 2% rate. What is currently an inflationary problem may prove to be deflationary in time.
‘There are plenty of examples of central banks tightening too fast in the past. We think they will take a more cautionary approach. The Bank can vary the interest rate but could also print money – quantitative easing. But when interest rate reaches 1% the Bank said it would start selling bonds back to the market, but quantitative tightening is not something the Bank has done before so they will want to take a cautious approach.’
Alpesh Paleja, CBI lead economist, said: ‘Another rise in interest rates is warranted, given the persistence of high inflation. However, the Monetary Policy Committee are walking an increasingly fine line.
‘Further action to curb price pressures needs to be weighed against the increasing need to protect growth, particularly in light of a historic cost-of-living crunch. Households are feeling it and so are businesses, with cost pressures across the board.
‘While monetary policy is the appropriate first line of defence in tackling inflation, government needs to take further action to shore up the broader resilience of the UK economy. In the near-term, higher inflation will hit poorer households hardest, so support measures for this group will need to be kept under review. Over the longer-term, securing greener energy supply and a relentless focus on raising potential growth will bolster our ability to withstand shocks and further price pressures.’
Paul Clifford, regional CEO at Azets, said: ‘This is the first time in 13 years that the UK base rate has been at 1% – many businesses and the 1m-plus householders on variable mortgage rates aren’t used to seeing a continuous rise in borrowing costs and the impact that has on budgets.
‘This is also the fourth rise in half a year, from 0.25% in December.
‘The interest rate rise, whilst still historically low, will now place additional repayment burdens on borrowers and have a knock-on impact on businesses as spending is reined in, with SMEs likely to be hit hardest.’
Over 1.2m homes have moved above the basic stamp duty threshold which will bring the Exchequer at least an extra £3bn a year
According to Zoopla’s latest house price index, 1.2m properties in the UK have moved above the initial £125,000 stamp duty threshold as house prices have risen around £29,000, or 13%, since March 2020 with an 8.3% rise in the last year alone.
As buyers pay 2% of stamp duty between £125,000 to £250,000, the Treasury looks set to see a minimum increase of at least £3bn if those 1.2m houses are sold at the entry rate of £125,001.
Since the average house price in the UK sits at a record level of £292,000, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in January 2022, the Treasury will almost certainly see that extra £3bn in its coffers.
The latest HMRC stamp duty data revealed that in the first quarter of 2022, residential property transactions were 13% lower than they were in Q4 2021, and of the 244,200 residential homes bought, only 43,700 received first time buyer relief, while 27,300 were below the tax threshold altogether.
According to HMRC, 70% of residential transactions were liable for stamp duty land tax, compared to just 36% in Q1 2021 due to covid exemptions, with the average stamp duty bill for residential property in Q1 being £15,000, according to analysis from Coventry Building Society.
The data also showed that the 2% surcharge on the purchase of residential properties by non-residents up to the end of Q1 2022 raked in £111m for government coffers on just 10,400 transactions.
Last week’s tax receipts data from HMRC showed that the Treasury gained more than £14bn in stamp duty, including non-residential property in 2021-22 and comes despite the stamp duty holiday, which ended in September. Of that, £9.9bn of stamp duty receipts last year came from residential properties.
The overall receipts for stamp duty land tax, and annual tax on enveloped dwellings, for 2021-22 sat at £18.6bn, which is £6.1bn higher that the same period last year.
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) predicts that stamp land tax duty alone will net the Treasury £17.1bn in the year to March 2023, a figure that is set to surge even higher to £20.8bn by 2027.
Tom Bill, head of UK residential research, Knight Frank, said: ‘Stamp duty has always been a pretty imperfect tax and can have a distorting effect on the market.
‘Reforming it could be problematic for the government, which may not have much bandwidth to do it before the next election.
‘With the social care crisis, however, you could see the rationale for offering stamp duty relief to people who want to downsize rather than wholesale changes, because having to pay that large bill can deter people from moving.’
There has been a lot of attention on the levels of stamp duty collected by the Treasury over the last two years due to rapidly rising prices however, Karen Noye, a mortgage expert at wealth management company Quilter said that rising house prices could possibly be a ‘thing of the past’.
Noye said: ‘Across the whole market, there has been a fall in transactions in the last three quarters and total SDLT receipts in Q1 2022 were 19% lower than in Q4 2021.
‘The heat is finally coming out of the UK property market, and this may have an impact on house prices. With interest rates likely to go up and lots of other factors squeezing people’s finances a gradual drop in house prices is highly likely’.