In 2013, we were the first campaign to push the hated Stamp Duty Land Tax up the political and media agenda. We launched our dedicated “Stamp Out Stamp Duty” campaign which quickly gathered momentum and received widespread media coverage.
Before 3 December 2014, people in the UK paid a slab rate Stamp Duty Land Tax (normally known as “Stamp Duty”) when they bought a house worth more than £125,000, at a rate of 1, 3, 4, 5 or 7 per cent on the total purchase price, depending on the price band of the property. If you bought a £250,000 property you paid 1 per cent, or £2,500. But if you bought one for £250,001, you paid 3 per cent, or £7,500. We thought this was arbitrary and unfair; that it inhibited people from moving when they needed to;and the slab rate meant that it gummed up the market around the thresholds.
Our campaign called on the government to do one of three things, with the long-term view of abolishing Stamp Duty completely: halve the rates; double the thresholds; or scrap the slab rate.
We released three research notes on Stamp Duty, which you can read here:
We liaised with two of the UK’s largest estate agents, as well as the National Association of Estate Agents and local agencies, to promote the campaign. We also held action days on high streets across the UK and spoke with politicians and policymakers about how Stamp Duty was impacting hard-working taxpayers and how it could be reformed.
We were delighted when in late 2014 then Chancellor George Osborne announced major reforms and abolished the slab rate a little over a year after we began campaigning on the issue.
The changes didn’t reach our ultimate goal, though, so we have kept up the pressure on this issue. Since 2014, we have consistently called for the tax to be abolished completely. In 2017, we released new research on Stamp Duty and put together a list of prominent voices who support its abolition.
In 2019, we released more research in support of raising the threshold, and in 2020 we renewed our call for the threshold to be raised to £1 million.
As part of the pandemic recovery programme, Chancellor Rishi Sunak temporarily raised the threshold to £500,000 in July 2020. Our rapid response research - released within 24 hours of the announcement - revealed that this change had the potential to unlock 216,000 house moves, equivalent to the total housing stock of Wiltshire, Bradford or the city of Manchester.
But that wasn’t enough. We piled on the pressure for the government to extend the deadline from 31 March 2021. Our online petition gathered thousands of signatures, which we presented to the Treasury. The Chancellor heeded our call for an extension and pushed it back for another three months.
Although Stamp Out Stamp Duty is listed as a “past” campaign, we still regularly comment on the issue in the media and will continue to push the government to abolish the unfair tax completely.