Quick summary of the latest rules

  1. If it’s your only property, no stamp duty to pay on the first £125,000.
  2. Above £125,000 you pay the relevant percentage on the amount that falls into each band.
  3. ‘Second homes’ over £40,000 incur an additional 3% stamp duty across the whole value.
  4. Your stamp duty liability will be itemised and requested as part of your conveyancer’s completion statement.
  5. Your conveyancer will file a SDLT return and forward monies to HMRC within 30 days of completion.

What is stamp duty (SDLT)?

  • Stamp duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a transfer tax paid to the government by the buyer of a home or land over £125,000 or a second home or land over £40,000 in England and Northern Ireland.
  • In Scotland, the equivalent tax is called Land and Buildings Transactions Tax (LBTT).
  • In Wales, the equivalent tax is called Land Transaction Tax (LTT).

Stamp duty calculators

There are many out there but it’s safest to use the official ones maintained by Government bodies.

England & N.Ireland



How much is stamp duty in England & N. Ireland?

  • There are several bands for stamp duty and you pay the relevant percentage on the amount that falls into each band.
  • Nothing is paid on the first £125,000 of a residential property, unless you already own (or part-own) a property.
  • Second homes – If you already own your own home but buy a property to rent, a holiday home, or a property to help a family member onto the ladder, the new property will be classed as a second home and a 3% surcharge will apply to the whole price if you pay over £40,000 for the property.
  • Non-residential property (e.g. land) – There is no stamp duty to pay on the first £150,000.
  • Leasehold property – When buying leasehold, you pay stamp duty on the price of the lease, usually at the same rates as if you were buying a freehold property.

The current SDLT rates

Introduced in December 2014 and still applicable today, the basic / standard stamp duty land tax rates for residential property are:

Stamp Duty Land Tax Rates

source: GOV.UK
Up to £125,000 0%
The portion from
The portion from
The portion from
The portion above

What if I already own a property?

  • If you already own or part-own a property, there is an additional 3% to pay on the whole price.
  • However, if you are selling your main residence and buying a new one, then once this transaction has been completed, you may be eligible for a refund.

Second Home Stamp Duty Land Tax Rates

£0-£40,000 0% 0%
£40,001-£125,000 0% 3%
£125,001-£250,000 2% 5%
£250,001-£925,000 5% 8%
£925,001-£1.5m 10% 13%
£1.5m+ 12% 15%

If you were purchasing a £250,000 house as your only property, you would pay:
0% on the first £125,000 = £0
2% on the amount between £125,001 and £250,000 = £2,500
Total: £2,500

But if you already own a property, it would be classed as a second home and incur an addition 3% stamp duty across the whole price. Therefore you would pay:
3% on the first £125,000 = £3,750
5% on the amount between £125,001 and £250,000 = £6,250
Total: £10,000

Do I have to pay stamp duty as a first time buyer?

  • Since 22 November 2017 first time buyers have been able to enjoy relief from stamp duty land tax (SDLT) on the purchases of residential property for £500,000 or less, provided the purchaser intends to occupy the property as their only or main residence.

First Time Buyer Stamp Duty Land Tax Relief Rates

Bottom Line

  • Understanding the rules on stamp duty, especially for second homes can be complex.
  • If you are not sure of your stamp duty liability, particularly as a second home owner, contact a legal or tax specialist to confirm how much you will need to pay.

More: SDLT rates & bands – GOV.UK

How much is stamp duty in Scotland?

  • Stamp duty in Scotland is called Land and Building Transaction Tax (LBTT).
  • It works in much the same way as SDLT but with different bands / price brackets.

Land & Building Transaction Tax Rates (LBTT)

What is land and building transaction tax (LBTT)?

  • Land and building transaction tax (LBTT) is the name for stamp duty land tax (SDLT) in Scotland. It works in the same way, but with different tax bands to those used in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

What is Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS)?

  • Additional dwelling supplement, which came into force in April 2016, is a 3% land and building transaction tax (LBTT) surcharge on land and building transaction tax for second homes in Scotland (such as buy to let properties or holiday homes) of £40,000 or more.
  • The additional 3% applies to the full purchase price of the property.

More: LBTT rates & bands – Revenues Scotland

How much is stamp duty in Wales?

  • Wales used to pay SDLT but since April 2018 it’s been devolved to Wales and given a name change.
  • Land Transaction Tax (LTT) is calculated in the same manner as SDLT just with slightly tweaked rates and price brackets.

Basic Land Transaction Tax Rates (LTT)

More: LTT rates & bands – WALES.GOV

How is stamp duty paid?

  • Most people will pay stamp duty through their solicitor or conveyancer.
  • Buying with a mortgage – Your solicitor or conveyancer will require you to pay them by the completion date so funds can be released, unless they have spare funds from the sale of your property.
  • Buying with cash – You can pay the stamp duty yourself direct to HMRC through online or telephone banking, via your bank, building society or post office, using a debit or credit card online (a fee applies for using a credit card) or by sending a cheque through the post.

Stamp Duty Land Tax Form (SDLT1)

  • A stamp duty land tax return form must be completed when a stamp duty payment is submitted to HMRC.
  • The form is called SDLT1, although additional forms may be required (SDLT2,3,4) for more complicated transactions.

Who submits the SDLT1 form?

  • In most cases, the solicitor or conveyancer will submit the form for you, although the responsibility lies with you to check this is done in time – usually 30 days after the completion of the property transaction.

How to check your conveyancer has filed & paid your stamp duty

  • It is not unheard of for conveyancer to fail to file (or make mistakes when filing) their client’s SDLT return and pay their bill.
  • This can land you in hot water with the HMRC so it’s wise to get peace of mind your payment has been submitted and received.
  • To do this, ask your conveyancer for the UTRN (Unique Transaction Reference Number) – an 11-digit reference code for your transaction.
  • Once you have this you can call the HMRC Stamp Duty Land Tax Helpline – 0300 200 3510 and confirm they have received payment.
  • If your conveyancer is not able to provide you with your UTRN code within 30 days of your transaction start the complaints procedure immediately.

Doing it yourself

  • You can submit the stamp duty return yourself but private individuals are not allowed to do it online so must be done using the paper form.
  • Paper SDLT1 forms can be ordered online or by phone on 0300 200 3511 Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-4pm. It can take two weeks to arrive, so do this in plenty of time.
  • Each form has its own Unique Transaction Reference Number (UTRN) which applies to that particular property, so photocopies are not acceptable.
  • The form includes a payment slip, so you can include the payment with the form, or indicate how you plan to pay, such as online or telephone banking, or via your bank, building society or post office.

Additional forms

For a straightforward transaction, you only need to complete and submit the SDLT1 form. For more complicated transactions, additional forms may also be required:

  • SDLT2 if there are more than two buyers or more than two sellers
  • SDLT3 if you purchase more than one property, or you cannot fit the whole address of your new property on the SDLT1 form
  • SDLT4 if there is a complicated lease, multiple grants of lease or a complex commercial transaction such as if you are purchasing through a company or the transaction is part of a business sale agreement.

Pro Tip

  • Your conveyancer will probably charge you £30-£60 to fill in and file the SDLT1 on your behalf.
  • You may begrudge this at first but know this – The paper SDLT1 form is mind-bendingly complicated – £30-£60 pounds well spent I say.

Helpful guides (.GOV)

Can you pay stamp duty in instalments?

  • No. Stamp duty needs to be paid, in full, within 30 days of the ‘effective’ completion date.

Can you pay stamp duty with a mortgage?

  • You cannot use your mortgage loan to pay the stamp duty but if you have a large deposit, you could hold some of that back for the stamp duty and borrow more. However, this will potentially result in a less competitive deal.
  • If you have a small deposit and therefore a high loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, this option is unlikely to be available to you.
  • The best course is to seek advice from your mortgage broker.

Can you use a credit card to pay stamp duty?

  • Yes. you may use a credit or debit card to pay your stamp duty, although a fee applies for credit card payments. In addition, you may only make a ‘reasonable’ number of credit and debit card payments to HMRC.
  • Usually, your legal company will pay the stamp duty on your behalf after you have paid them using one of their accepted methods.
  • It is, however, your responsibility to ensure the stamp duty has been paid and the return has been filed.

EXPLAINED: Stamp duty and second homes

  • If a property purchase (over £40,000) results in you owning (or part-owning) more than one property (an additional property), in most cases you’ll have to pay a 3% stamp duty surcharge on that purchase.
  • The surcharge is paid at the same time as the rest of the stamp duty, as part of the same bill.
  • It applies even if you own two properties for a short period, for instance if the sale of your existing home does not complete until after you have taken possession of the new property.
  • However, if you sell the original property (and this was your primary residence) within three years of buying the new home, you can apply for a refund of the higher rate portion of your stamp duty.

Second Home Stamp Duty Land Tax Rates

£0-£40,000 0% 0%
£40,001-£125,000 0% 3%
£125,001-£250,000 2% 5%
£250,001-£925,000 5% 8%
£925,001-£1.5m 10% 13%
£1.5m+ 12% 15%

If you were purchasing a £250,000 house as your only property, you would pay:
0% on the first £125,000 = £0
2% on the amount between £125,001 and £250,000 = £2,500
Total: £2,500

But if you already own a property, it would be classed as a second home and incur an addition 3% stamp duty across the whole price. Therefore you would pay:
3% on the first £125,000 = £3,750
5% on the amount between £125,001 and £250,000 = £6,250
Total: £10,000

When will you not be charged the 3% surcharge?

You won’t be charged the higher rate if:

  • The property you are purchasing costs less than £40,000
  • The property is a mobile home, caravan or house boat
  • The property is purpose-built student accommodation
  • The lease has more than 21 years to run and is held by somebody else
  • You purchase a lease with less than seven years to run
  • Your existing properties are leasehold and meet either of these criteria
  • Your existing property is worth less than £40,000 on the date of purchase of the new property

What counts as an additional property?

All of the following are classed as additional properties, as long as you already own a property on the date of purchase:

  • Buy to let properties
  • Holiday homes (but not caravans, mobile homes or house boats)
  • A property you purchase with your son or daughter to help them on the ladder
  • Your new main residence, if there is a delay in selling your previous home. Although if you sell the original main residence within 36 months, you may secure a refund.

Stamp duty surcharge refund procedure

  • If you purchase a new home as your main residence before you are able to sell your existing home, you will have to pay the 3% stamp duty surcharge which applies to second homes.
  • This is refundable if you sell the original property within three years (36 months).
  • To claim a refund, you can change the original stamp duty return or complete a request form.
  • To be successful, this must be done within three months of the sale of your previous home, or within 12 months of the filing date of the return, whichever comes later.
  • You may complete the form yourself or ask an agent/legal company to complete it on your behalf, with your written permission.

More: How to apply for a SDLT surcharge repayment (GOV.UK) 

Stamp duty on transfers between companies &/or individuals

Stamp duty is not only payable when you purchase a property, but it is also payable in some circumstances when property is transferred either between individuals or from an individual to a company, even if no money changes hands.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has guidance on transfers:

Stamp duty land tax reliefs & exemptions

You don’t need to pay stamp duty on your only property if you pay less than £125,000 – but you still need to submit a SDLT return, even if no tax is due.

Property or land transactions which do not require a return include:

  • If you buy a freehold property for less than £40,000.
  • You buy a new or assigned lease of seven years or more, as long as the premium is less than £40,000 and the annual rent lower than £1,000.
  • You buy a new or assigned lease of less than seven years, which falls below the relevant stamp duty threshold, ie £125,000 for residential property, or £150,000 for non-residential.
  • The property is given as a gift.
  • You purchase using alternative property finance, such as some Sharia law-compliant mortgages, where the lender officially owns the property until the mortgage is fully paid.

SDLT relief: First time buyers

If you, and anyone else you’re buying with, are first time buyers of a residential property you can claim relief on purchases where the purchase price is no more than £500,000.

First Time Buyer Stamp Duty Land Tax Relief Rates

SDLT relief: Purchase of multiple dwellings in a single transaction

In this case, stamp duty is calculated by taking the average price of each property, which is multiplied by the number of properties bought.

For example:

  • Purchase price for three properties = £750,000
  • Stamp duty payable on £750,000 = £50,000
  • Average property price = £250,000
  • Stamp duty payable on one £250,000 property = £10,000
  • Stamp duty liability multiplied by three = £30,000
  • Saving = £20,000

This example assumes you already own at least one property, so the 3% surcharge applies.

SDLT relief: Right to Buy properties

Where the buyer pays a discounted price to, for example, a housing authority but if they sell within a set period, usually five years, they must pay back any ‘profit’ they make.

Stamp duty is payable on the initial discounted price, but no further payment is required if the property is sold at a higher price within the initial period.

Relief for companies, organisations & charities

The other main reliefs are available for:

  • Companies buying property for their employees
  • Building firms buying your home in part-exchange for a new build
  • Local authorities compulsorily purchasing properties
  • Charities and registered social landlords

More: SDLT reliefs for land or property transactions (GOV.UK)

Stamp duty land tax avoidance schemes

  • There are companies that claim they know how to avoid paying stamp duty land tax because of ‘legal loopholes’.
  • According to HMRC these are typically inaccurate.
  • HMRC have successfully pursued a lot of people, claiming in one article for the Telegraph to have secured in excess of £200m from property owners taking part in an tax avoidance scheme.

The risk is great

The main problem with any tax avoidance schemes are that they can be pursued many years after they have happened.

At this point you will not only pay the stamp duty land tax you should have paid, but also interest and even penalties, all of which can quickly add up.

Read: Bogus stamp duty dodge meant we had to pay £54,000 more

How to avoid stamp duty on house purchase

Avoidance is not allowed, whereas tax mitigation is.

The only way to mitigate stamp duty payments on a house purchase is if it falls into one of the categories, which make it exempt.

Currently, this means you can only not pay SDLT if you purchase:

  • A residential property under £125,000, assuming you don’t already own another property
  • A second home under £40,000
  • A property using a Sharia-friendly mortgage, as long as it meets certain conditions

Do changes to stamp duty rules effect the property market?

There are two key peaks in the property market due to Stamp Duty changes.

  1. March 2012 was the last month that First time buyers were exempt from stamp duty.
  2. March 2016 was the last month you could buy a second home without the additional 3% stamp duty.

Both impacted on the market, raising transactions for specific groups of property buyers.

The ONS states:

“The largest peak in mortgage lending for March 2012 was to first-time buyers. However, in March 2016, buy-to-let mortgage completions had the largest peak – reflecting the target market of each of the stamp duty changes. In both cases home-movers’ mortgage completions also peaked, but to a lesser extent, which could simply reflect the larger number of first-time buyers (in 2012) and buy-to-let buyers (in 2016) who purchased property from home-movers.”

How did the old stamp duty rates affect the property market?

Under the old system, from March 2012 to December 2014, you paid a single rate over the whole property price, even if it was just over the threshold.

Stamp duty was charged in slabs:

  • 0% on a property under £125,000
  • 1% on properties between £125,000 and £250,000
  • 3% on properties between £250,000 and £500,000
  • 4% on properties between £500,000 and £1million
  • 5% on properties between £1million and £2million
  • 7% on properties over £2million

What was the problem with the slab system?

  • Before the December 2014 changes, some properties fell into stamp duty ‘dead zones’.
  • This meant properties were not always marketed at (or achieved) a price that truly reflected their value.
  • For instance, a seller of a property worth £255,000 may have marketed it at a lower price to put it into a lower stamp duty bracket (£2,499.50 would have been due on a £249,950 property versus £7,650 on a £255,000 property).

How are the new stamp duty rates affecting the property market?

In the months before April 2016, when the 3% surcharge for second properties was introduced, there was a spike in demand, as many buy to let landlords rushed to beat the hike.


As you can see in the chart above, since the introduction of the 3% SDLT surcharge, there has definitely been a slump in activity by second home buyers, specifically buy to let investors.

However, most people purchasing a home are better off under the new stamp duty rates, as the rates are banded, like income tax, so you only pay the higher percentages on the amount which falls into the higher bands.

There were winners and losers

Here are some examples of stamp duty bills before and after the changes made in December 2014:

£150,000 property

  • Before December 2014 = £1,500 (SDLT)
  • Current stamp duty rate = £500 (SDLT)

£200,000 property

  • Before December 2014 = £2,000 (SDLT)
  • Current stamp duty rate = £1,500 (SDLT)

£400,000 property

  • Before December 2014 = £12,000 (SDLT)
  • Current stamp duty rate £5,000 (SDLT)

£1,500,000 property

  • Before December 2014 = £75,000 (SDLT)
  • Current stamp duty rate = £93,750 (SDLT)

£2,500,000 property

  • Before December 2014 = £175,000 (SDLT)
  • Current stamp duty rate = £213,750 (SDLT)

What’s the future for stamp duty land tax?

Although there are regular calls for stamp duty to be changed or exemptions given to first time buyers, it is unlikely while we are in an age of austerity that stamp duty will be changed again.

Will the rules change again?

Over the years, stamp duty has changed on a regular basis, but it seems unlikely this will happen for sometime now due to the pressure on public finances.

For instance, from 1984 onwards, stamp duty was payable at 1% on all properties over £30,000, but the threshold was raised to £250,000 in 1991 to stimulate the market, then returned to £30,000 a year later as demand for homes grew.

As a response to the credit crunch in 2008, the government introduced a stamp duty ‘holiday’, with SDLT being waived on properties up to £175,000 until the previous rates resumed in January 2010. After this time, first time buyers were exempt from paying any stamp duty land tax, although this was stopped two years later in 2012.

Since this time, the last changes to stamp duty land tax were in December 2014 when it moved from a ‘slab’ tax system applied to the whole property’s value to one which is proportionate based on the actual price of the property.

Scotland has scrapped stamp duty in favour of their own system called ‘Land and Building Transaction Tax’ which applies its own rates to its own price bands.

In addition, since April 2016 there has been a 3% additional stamp duty charged to anyone buying a property for over £40,000 which is considered to be a second home, although there are some exemptions and the ability for refunds in some cases.

As property prices change and adjust in the future, as governments will, it is likely stamp duty may change again.

Will calls to abolish SDLT be heard?

There have been repeated calls to abolish the 3% surcharge on second homes, including from the TaxPayers’ Alliance, who have also called for stamp duty to be halved.

However changes have been called for, for many years and the most recent ones have been fairly dramatic and driven a fairer system of tax than we have had in recent years.

As such it is unlikely that changes to stamp duty will come anytime soon.

Frequently asked questions

Why do they call it stamp duty?

The name ‘stamp duty’ originates in the 17th century and refers to an official stamp attached or impressed on documents, as proof that they were legally binding.

It was introduced as a temporary measure to help finance the war against France but was so successful that it was extended.

Over the years, stamp duties have been applied to hats, medicines, newspapers, lottery tickets and much more. Stamp duty is the oldest tax still raised by HMRC, although a physical stamp is no longer required.

When was stamp duty introduced?

Stamp duty Land Tax (SDLT) in its current form was introduced on 1st December 2003. Before that, from 1986, Stamp Duty Reserve Tax (SDRT) was payable on property and land over £30,000.

What does stamp duty pay for?

Transferring ownership of land or property must be legally and officially registered by the HMRC and requires a Certificate of Land Ownership.

Stamp duty is designed to cover the costs of these legal documents for the transaction. The money raised goes into government funds.

When the higher rate stamp duty for purchasing second homes was introduced in April 2016, the government pledged to use some of the money raised in this way to boost affordable housing and help communities most impacted by the popularity of second homes.

Is stamp duty a direct tax or indirect tax?

Stamp duty is an indirect tax because it is charged on the value of a transaction and can be passed on to the consumer.

This is in contrast to a direct tax, which is charged on income, profit and gains and cannot be passed on to a third party.

However it is tax deductible if you are a property investor or landlord. So the 3% additional stamp duty you paid is tax deductible when you sell.

Who pays stamp duty the buyer or the seller?

It is the buyer’s responsibility pay the stamp duty when they purchase a property or land over £125,000, or over £40,000 if they already own – or part-own – a property.

Although you can ask your legal company to action the payment and paperwork for you, it is ultimately still your responsibility to check they have done this correctly.

Do you have to pay VAT on stamp duty?

No. As stamp duty is a tax in itself, you will not be required to pay VAT or any other further tax on it.

Does stamp duty apply to fixtures and fittings?

Stamp duty certainly applies to fixtures, as these are part of the property itself. For instance, a fitted kitchen or bathroom is a fixture so is part of the property and no deduction can be made to the stamp duty.

Free standing furniture and appliances, and even carpets and curtains, are classed as ‘chattels’ and if included in the property price, a deduction may be possible, although they may need to represent considerable value to be worthwhile under the current SDLT banded scheme.

Your legal representative will be keen to ensure any reduction in stamp duty cannot be considered to be tax evasion. You and the seller must agree on the price of any items included in the sale and your solicitor or conveyancer may ask for an independent valuation by a professional, too, to ensure it is realistic and reflects the age and condition of the items.

In many cases, the saving would be negligible and may even be negated by a valuation fee. For instance, on a single purchase of a £300,000 property (SDLT £5,000) chattels worth £2,500 would bring the stamp duty down to £4,875, representing a saving of just £125.

Will I have to pay a higher rate of SDLT?

You will have to pay a higher rate of stamp duty if, at the end of the day of purchase, you own – or part-own – more than one property worth £40,000 or more.

The higher rate applies whether you are buying to let, buying a holiday home or cannot sell your existing home before you move into a new one.

Is stamp duty payable on land?

Yes, stamp duty is payable on land which will be used for residential purposes in the same way a property would be.

So if you buy a plot of land for £100,000 and then build a home for £200,000 then you won’t pay any stamp duty.

However, if the land is for non-residential purposes the threshold is higher so it is only payable on land over £150,000:-

  • 0% on the first £150,000
  • 2% on the amount between £150,000 and £250,000
  • 5% on any amount over £250,000

When do you become liable for stamp duty?

Stamp duty is paid on ‘effective’ completion of the property transaction.

This is usually the completion date (or on ‘substantial’ completion, where at least 90% of the payment is made) but sometimes earlier, for example if you are entitled to take possession before completion, or the first rent payment is due before this date.

How long do you have to pay stamp duty?

Stamp duty must be paid no later than 30 days after the effective completion date.

Failure to do this may result in you having to pay a penalty and interest on the outstanding amount.

Conclusions & summary

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a tax paid to the government by property buyers in England and Northern Ireland.

In Scotland it’s called Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT).

In Wales it’s called Land Transaction Tax (LTT).

If the property is classed as a main residence it does not usually apply to residential properties:

  • Under £125,000 (England & N. Ireland)
  • Under £145,000 (Scotland)
  • Under £180,000 (Wales)

It’s like income tax in that a banding system means you only pay tax at the relevant percentage within each band.

Under the SDLT, LTT and LBTT systems, the percentage of tax charged ranges from 2% through to 12% depending on the property’s value.

If the property is a second home, an additional 3% surcharge is payable on the whole amount if the purchase results in you owning more than one property which costs more than £40,000.

Always check stamp duty liability

Before renting, buying, transferring or gifting property, always check whether stamp duty is applicable with a legal or tax expert before carrying out the transaction.