SDLT Relief and Misclassification Scenarios

(Inaccurate SDLT Assessments)

Scenario: Country Estate Purchase with a Self-contained Cottage

(Inaccurate SDLT Assessments>SDLT Relief and Misclassification Scenarios)

➤ By correctly applying for Multiple Dwellings Relief on a country estate with a main house and a rented cottage, the buyer reduces SDLT from £27,500 to £8,000, highlighting the importance of understanding SDLT reliefs.

Multiple Dwellings Relief (MDR) ceased on June 1, 2024; however, if your property was bought before this date, you have until April 30, 2025, to submit a claim, provided it’s within one year of purchase.

Reason for Confusion: A buyer purchases a country estate for £800,000, which includes a main house and a self-contained cottage on the grounds. The cottage is rented out, making it a separate dwelling. The buyer, unaware of the specifics of SDLT reliefs, believes SDLT should be paid on the entire estate value as a single residential property transaction, thereby overlooking the financial benefits available through Multiple Dwellings Relief (MDR).

Incorrect Assessment:

  • Assumption: The entire estate is assessed as one residential property.
  • Calculation: Using residential rates, for a purchase price of £800,000:
    • £0 for the first £250,000
    • 5% on the next £550,000 (£27,500)
    • Total SDLT: £27,500

Correct Assessment:

  • Understanding MDR: The buyer should have considered the estate as two dwellings and applied for MDR.
  • Calculation with MDR:
    • Divide £800,000 by 2 dwellings = £400,000 per dwelling.
    • Assess £400,000 using the residential rates (as if each dwelling was a separate transaction):
      • £0 for the first £250,000
      • 5% on the next £150,000 (£7,500)
    • Multiply the SDLT calculated for one dwelling by the number of dwellings to get the total SDLT due: £7,500 x 2 = £15,000.
    • However, the minimum rate under MDR is 1%, so the total SDLT payable is: £800,000 x 1% = £8,000.

Conclusion:

The scenario clearly demonstrates the importance of understanding and applying for SDLT reliefs where applicable. In this case, by recognising the estate as comprising multiple dwellings and applying for MDR, the buyer could significantly reduce their SDLT liability from £27,500 (incorrect assessment) to £8,000 (correct assessment). 

Scenario: Purchase of a Mixed-Use Portfolio

(Inaccurate SDLT Assessments>SDLT Relief and Misclassification Scenarios)

➤ Investors often face confusion with tax reliefs and reclassifications, leading to higher SDLT liabilities when dealing with mixed-use property portfolios.

Investors often face confusion regarding the appropriate reliefs, exemptions, or re-classifications they should utilise when dealing with property portfolios. This uncertainty can lead to incorrect assessments and potentially higher tax liabilities.

Reason for Confusion:

Investors sometimes lack clarity on which reliefs, exemptions, or re-classifications apply to their property transactions. This is especially prevalent when dealing with a mix of residential and non-residential properties within a single portfolio. The complexity of tax regulations and the specifics of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) can make it challenging to determine the most advantageous approach.

Incorrect Assessment:

A common misconception among investors is that residential properties within their portfolio should all be subject to residential rates for SDLT, while non-residential properties should be subject to non-residential SDLT rates. This simplistic view overlooks the nuances of SDLT regulations and can lead to incorrect tax calculations.

Correct Assessment:

In reality, when dealing with a portfolio of properties that includes both residential and non-residential elements, the transaction is classified as a linked transaction for SDLT purposes. This means that the presence of any residential property within the portfolio can reclassify the entire transaction. Specifically, all properties within such a transaction are treated as non-residential for SDLT purposes. This reclassification is beneficial because non-residential SDLT rates are generally lower than residential rates, leading to a reduced overall SDLT liability for the investor.

 

Scenario: Divorce and Subsequent Property Purchases

(Inaccurate SDLT Assessments>SDLT Relief and Misclassification Scenarios)

➤ Divorced individuals buying new properties with proceeds from their marital home sale must pay SDLT on these purchases, despite the divorce-related division of assets being exempt.

A married couple undergoing a divorce decides to sell their marital home valued at £800,000. They agree to equally divide the proceeds from the sale and each purchase a new property with their share.

Incorrect Assessment

Both the former husband and wife assume that their new property purchases are exempt from Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) because they are using the proceeds from the sale of their marital home. They believe this transaction is exempt from SDLT due to the circumstances of their divorce.

Correct Assessment

While the division of the marital property between the two parties as part of the divorce settlement is exempt from SDLT, the subsequent purchase of new properties by each individual is considered a separate transaction and is subject to SDLT. The exemption for the division of assets in a divorce does not extend to the purchase of new properties with the proceeds.

Calculations

For simplicity, let’s assume each party uses their £400,000 share to purchase a new property and that these properties will be their only residential properties, exempting them from the 3% surcharge for additional properties.

Former Husband’s New Property Purchase:

  • Total SDLT Due: £7,500

Former Wife’s New Property Purchase:

  • Total SDLT Due: £7,500

Conclusion

Each party in this scenario is liable for SDLT on their new property purchase, based on the standard rates for single property ownership, amounting to £7,500 each. 

 

Scenario: Inheritance and Transfer to a Limited Company for Buy to Let

(Inaccurate SDLT Assessments>SDLT Relief and Misclassification Scenarios)

➤ Transferring an inherited property to a limited company for buy-to-let incurs SDLT, including a 3% surcharge, costing £13,500, despite the initial belief of exemption.

An individual inherits a house valued at £325,000 from a will and plans to use it for a buy-to-let business. For tax purposes and to obtain a buy-to-let mortgage, the beneficiary decides to transfer the property to a limited company they own.

Incorrect Assessment

The beneficiary assumes that since the property is inherited, it is exempt from Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), and this exemption extends to transferring the property to their limited company, considering it part of the inheritance process without any financial transaction involved.

Correct Assessment

Transferring a property from personal ownership to a limited company is viewed as a sale to a separate legal entity, attracting SDLT based on the property’s market value. This transaction is subject to residential SDLT rates, including the 3% surcharge applicable to additional properties, as the limited company is considered a separate legal entity.

Property Value: £325,000

Residential Rates Plus 3% Surcharge. Total SDLT Due:

  • Standard SDLT: £3,750
  • 3% Surcharge: £9,750
  • Overall SDLT: £3,750 + £9,750 = £13,500

This calculation demonstrates that, contrary to the beneficiary’s initial belief, transferring the inherited property to a limited company for use in a buy-to-let business incurs a significant SDLT liability, mainly due to the 3% surcharge on top of the standard residential rate. The transaction’s nature as a transfer to a separate legal entity mandates the payment of SDLT, regardless of the inheritance origin.


Scenario: Property Swap Between Family Members

(Inaccurate SDLT Assessments>SDLT Relief and Misclassification Scenarios)

➤ Swapping properties between family members without cash exchange is still subject to SDLT, costing each party £30,000, based on the value of the swapped properties.

Person A decides to swap their central London apartment, valued at £850,000, with a family member who owns a four-bedroom semi-detached house in the suburbs, also valued at £850,000. No cash payment is involved in the exchange.

Incorrect Assessment

The cousins assume that since the properties are exchanged between family members without any cash exchange, no Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is applicable to this transaction.

Correct Assessment

The relationship between the parties and the absence of monetary exchange do not exempt the transaction from SDLT. SDLT is concerned with the exchange of “consideration,” which, in this case, is the value of each property. Therefore, both properties are subject to SDLT at residential rates as each property represents consideration for the other.

Calculations

Given that both properties are valued at £850,000, and assuming neither owner is acquiring an additional property (no 3% surcharge for owning multiple properties), the SDLT for each property exchange is calculated at residential rates as follows:

  • SDLT Due for Each Property: £30,000

Since both properties are of equal value and the same SDLT rates apply, each party in the swap would be liable to pay SDLT of £30,000 on the transaction. 

Conclusion: In property swap transactions, SDLT is calculated based on the value of the properties exchanged, irrespective of the parties involved or whether money is exchanged. It’s essential to understand that the exchange of properties constitutes consideration, making such transactions subject to SDLT at the relevant residential rates.

 

Scenario: Gifting a Residential Property with a Small Mortgage

(Inaccurate SDLT Assessments>SDLT Relief and Misclassification Scenarios)

➤ Taking over a small mortgage on a gifted property triggers SDLT due to debt assumption, costing £27,500 with a 3% surcharge for planning to rent it out and owning multiple homes.

Incorrect Assessment

The parent believes that because the property is gifted without a monetary exchange, and despite the beneficiary agreeing to pay off the remaining small mortgage balance of £5,000, no Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is applicable.

Correct Assessment

The transaction is indeed subject to SDLT due to the assumption of the mortgage debt by the beneficiary. Moreover, since the beneficiary plans to rent out the property and will own more than one home, the transaction attracts the standard residential rates plus a 3% surcharge for additional properties.

Calculations

Total SDLT Due: £27,500

Key Point: If the beneficiary had cleared the £5,000 mortgage before the transfer, the property transaction would have involved no consideration (as there’s no debt assumption), exempting it from SDLT. However, with the mortgage assumption, the transaction is considered to have consideration, thus incurring SDLT.

Conclusion: The assumption of mortgage debt in property gifting scenarios can trigger SDLT liability, contrary to common belief. Beneficiaries planning to rent out a gifted property, thereby owning multiple homes, face additional SDLT charges due to the 3% surcharge. 

Scenario: SDLT Assessment on Agricultural Land with a Derelict Farmhouse

(Inaccurate SDLT Assessments>SDLT Relief and Misclassification Scenarios)

➤ Buying an agricultural estate with a derelict farmhouse incurs lower SDLT when correctly assessed as non-residential, costing £27,000 instead of the mistakenly higher £47,500.

Reason for Confusion: A buyer acquires an agricultural estate for £750,000, consisting of 20 acres of land rented to a local farmer and a derelict farmhouse. Believing the farmhouse subjects the entire estate to residential SDLT and viewing the land as an extension of the residential domain, the purchaser pays residential rates on the whole transaction. They overlook the condition of the farmhouse, which is too derelict to qualify as a dwelling for SDLT purposes, making the correct assessment non-residential.

Incorrect Assessment:

Assumption: The entire estate is treated as a residential property for SDLT purposes.

Calculation (Assuming as an additional property with 3% surcharge):

  • £0 for the first £250,000
  • 5% on the next £500,000 (£25,000)
  • 3% surcharge on the full £750,000 (£22,500)
  • Total SDLT: £47,500

Correct Assessment:

Understanding Non-Residential Classification:

  • The farmhouse, due to its derelict state, cannot be considered a dwelling. Therefore, the estate should be classified under non-residential rates, including the agricultural land and the non-dwelling farmhouse.

Calculation with Non-Residential Rates:

  • £150,000 at 0% = £0
  • £100,000 at 2% = £2,000
  • The remaining £500,000 at 5% = £25,000
  • Total SDLT for Non-Residential = £27,000

Conclusion:

The buyer’s initial mistake of applying residential rates to the entire estate, driven by a misunderstanding of the farmhouse’s status and the agricultural land’s classification, resulted in an overpayment of SDLT.

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This Article Written By Nick Garner
Founder Stamp Duty Advice Bureau
Author of Stamp Duty Land Tax Guide
For Property Investors.