All we want for Christmas…

There has been an impressive groundswell of support for Mortgage Strategy\'s Step Up Stamp Duty Campaign, which is lobbying the Treasury to raise the lowest level of the tax from its current, absurdly low, level of 60,000 to a more realistic 150,000.

We have been overwhelmed by the thousands of responses we have received, via post and email, from across the industry, as well as support from the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

Stamp Duty is a grossly unfair tax. But it would seem that the only person who doesn’t agree is chancellor Gordon Brown, who made no mention of Stamp Duty in his pre-Budget report. There was widespread criticism of the omission, which so far appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

There is one powerful reason for this – Stamp Duty is a reliable and generous source of revenue for the Treasury. The Council of Mortgage Lenders says the take from the tax has risen from 830m in 1997/98 to 3,590m in 2002/03, a massive 433% rise. Getting rid of Stamp Duty altogether is probably a lost cause.

But the need to move the lowest threshold has never been more apparent. The thresholds were originally designed to avoid taxing struggling first-time buyers. But the 60,000 level was set 11 years ago – a long time in the housing market, if not in politics. Since that time, house prices have risen dramatically, meaning this draconian tax hits first-time buyers where it hurts.

So Mortgage Strategy is asking Brown for just one thing this Christmas – the raising of the threshold. Turn to page 34 to read our Christmas wish to Gordon where you will also find details of how to join our campaign.

Finally, this is our last issue of 2004 but we’ll be back on January 10 with a detailed appraisal of the incoming ICOB rules and a look at what’s in store for the year ahead.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2005.