House of Lords report asks for stamp duty reform

The House of Lords committee on intergenerational fairness has issued a wide-ranging report that, among other calls for actions, asks for the government to reform stamp duty.

In the report, the committee concludes that, “stamp duty has seriously distorted the housing market,” adding that, “the government should review the effect of stamp duty on the liquidity of the housing market and consider how stamp duty could be reformed to improve the housing choices and availability for young families.”

The evidence and opinion in the report was particularly scathing, with Centre for Economic Justice chief economist Carys Roberts saying that she had “never met an economist who thinks that stamp duty is a good tax,” and chair of the House of Lords economic affairs committee Lord Forsyth reporting that stamp duty in London has “brought some sections of the housing market to a complete dead stop.”

The Association of Accounting Technicians, which provided written evidence to the committee, has long suggested moving stamp duty liability from the buyer to the seller, which in a report published in September 2018, concluded would save the taxpayer £670m a year by 2021.

On the committee’s report, AAT head of public affairs and public policy Phil Hall says: “The HoL intergenerational fairness committee has published a thoughtful, well evidenced and rather hard-hitting report that ties in very neatly with many of the recommendations AAT has been making in recent years, not least around reforms to stamp duty and inheritance tax, and bringing pensioner benefits into line with the state pension age.

“Whilst many of the recommendations would deliver greater intergenerational fairness, they would deliver a range of other benefits too – from protecting taxpayers’ money, ensuring greater simplicity in the tax and benefits system and making sure that spending is better directed to those who really need it. Government should give very careful consideration to its recommendations.”

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