Payment and Liability

(Common SDLT Misconceptions and Misunderstandings)

Misconception. The Buyer Always Pays SDLT 

(Common SDLT Misconceptions and Misunderstandings>Payment and Liability)

➤ In property transactions, while buyers typically pay SDLT, tenants in lease agreements and parties assuming debt or involved in property swaps can also be liable for SDLT under certain conditions.


A common belief is that the responsibility for paying Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) falls solely on the buyer in a property transaction. This assumption leads many to overlook potential SDLT obligations in different types of transactions.


While it’s standard for buyers to pay SDLT in most property transactions, there are specific scenarios, particularly in lease transactions, where the tenant or other parties might bear the SDLT liability.

How It Works

  • Lease Transactions: In the case of lease agreements, SDLT is calculated not just on the purchase price but can also include the rental payments made over the term of the lease. Here, the tenant, rather than the property’s buyer, is responsible for SDLT.
  • Assumption of Debt: If a property transfer involves the assumption of debt or mortgage by the transferee, SDLT may be calculated based on the value of the debt assumed, making the transferee liable for SDLT.
  • Unique Circumstances: Other unique circumstances might include property swaps or transfers where consideration is non-monetary. In these cases, both parties involved in the swap could be liable for SDLT based on the market value of the properties exchanged.

Key Points

  • SDLT liability can extend beyond the buyer to include tenants and other transferees in certain transactions.
  • Lease agreements can incur SDLT based on the present value of all future rent payments over the lease term.
  • The assumption of debt or mortgage as part of a property transfer can trigger SDLT liabilities for the party assuming the debt.
  • Property swaps or exchanges involve SDLT considerations for both parties based on the respective property values.

Misconception. Corporate Entities are Exempt from SDLT

(Common SDLT Misconceptions and Misunderstandings>Payment and Liability)

➤ Corporate entities are subject to SDLT on property purchases with specific conditions and rates, and might qualify for certain reliefs, but are not exempt from this tax.

There’s a common misunderstanding that businesses or corporate entities are exempt from Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) when purchasing property. This belief may stem from the various tax structures and reliefs available to corporations, suggesting a potential exemption from such taxes.

The Reality: Subject to SDLT with Specific Conditions

In truth, corporate entities are indeed subject to SDLT on property purchases, just like individual buyers. The rates and reliefs applicable can vary, with some specific conditions and exemptions tailored to corporate transactions, but no blanket exemption exists for corporations.

How Corporate SDLT Differs

  • Different Rates: Corporate entities might face different SDLT rates, especially for high-value residential properties, which can attract a higher SDLT rate under certain conditions.
  • Reliefs and Exemptions: Corporations can access specific reliefs not available to individuals, such as relief for property developers or companies buying properties for their business use.
  • Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED): Additionally, corporate entities holding residential properties may be subject to ATED, which comes with its own relief and exemption criteria that can affect SDLT liability.

Key Points

  • No Exemption: Corporate entities are not exempt from SDLT but are subject to it under different conditions and rates.
  • Specific Reliefs: Access to certain reliefs tailored for corporate transactions can significantly impact the overall SDLT liability.
  • ATED Considerations: Owning residential property through a corporate entity may trigger additional tax considerations like ATED.

Misconception. Overseas Buyers Pay the Same SDLT as UK Residents

(Common SDLT Misconceptions and Misunderstandings>Payment and Liability)

Non-UK residents may face higher SDLT rates due to an additional surcharge, aiming to cool off the property market and ensure fairness among domestic buyers.

Many people believe that Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) rates are uniform, regardless of the buyer’s residency status. This assumption leads to the misconception that overseas buyers are subject to the same SDLT rates as UK residents when purchasing residential properties in England and Northern Ireland.


Non-UK Residents May Face Higher SDLT Rates. In truth, non-UK residents are potentially subject to higher SDLT rates on residential properties due to additional surcharges. This measure aims to cool off the property market and ensure fairness among domestic buyers.

How the Surcharge Works

The surcharge is applied on top of existing SDLT rates for residential properties. It’s designed to add an extra layer of tax for buyers not residing within the UK, thus making it more expensive for overseas investors to purchase residential real estate in England and Northern Ireland.

Key Points

  • Surcharge Rate: The additional SDLT surcharge for non-UK residents is set at 2% above the standard rates for residential properties.
  • Residency Criteria: The determination of residency status for SDLT purposes follows specific criteria, not merely the buyer’s current living situation or citizenship.
  • Scope of Application: This surcharge applies to all types of residential property transactions, including purchases made by individuals and certain types of entities controlled by non-UK residents.
  • Objective: The primary goal is to moderate the housing market, making it more accessible for UK residents by discouraging speculative buying by overseas investors.

* indicates required

Intuit Mailchimp

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