April provided the government with the highest Stamp Duty Land Tax (‘SDLT’) revenue ever recorded for a single month, according to new data released by HMRC.
The statistics reveal that the government generated almost £1.2bn of SDLT in April from a total of 173,430 property transactions in March, fuelled largely by high activity in the buy-to-let sector.
Nimesh Shah, partner at London based chartered accountants Blick Rothenberg, said it was “inevitable” that April would be a bumper month for SDLT revenue as buy-to-let investors scrambled to beat the new additional 3% SDLT surcharge.
“Changes in the tax system lead to behavioural change, and the advance warning by the government that SDLT would increase for second purchases from 1 April 2016, is certainly evidence of opportunistic buyers wanting to beat the tax rise,” said Shah.
But while transactions for the month of March soared, significantly fewer homes changed hands in April.
The data shows that there was a drop of more than 100,000 residential property transactions in April to 70,690 from March’s bumper figure of 173,430. This is the lowest number of residential property transactions since February 2013 and the lowest recorded transactions for the month of April since April 2012.
Paul Haywood-Schiefer, assistant manager at Blick Rothenberg, commented: “With the rush to get these transactions completed in April, it is inevitable there will be a slowdown in the market in the months ahead. Following this major upheaval in the tax, it will be interesting to see how property transactions and SDLT receipts fare over the next few months as the housing market relaxes itself. Those looking to purchase an additional property will be contemplating the increased SDLT costs, while those with two properties may not want to sell, knowing they will have additional SDLT to fund on replacing the second property.”
He added: “For now, the overall effect on the Treasury is positive, as SDLT receipts for the previous 12 months, which hit £11bn, have totalled almost as much as capital gains tax and inheritance tax put together, at £11.7bn, and further demonstrates how the tax on property has boosted the Treasury revenues. It has also addressed an area in which the government had expected to lose out.”