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Tax per property transaction rises over a third in Scotland in last three years

The tax paid by residential property owners in Scotland has risen by more than a third over the last three years compared to the same pre-pandemic period according to a leading property firm. DJ Alexander Ltd, part of the Lomond Group which is the largest lettings and estate agency in Scotland, said that the amount of land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT) collected has increased by 36.3% over the last year compared with the same period in 2019-20.

The 12 months from April 2021 to March 2022 saw LBTT (the Scottish equivalent of stamp duty) raise £577.6m on the sale of 110,160 properties which equates to £5,243 per transaction. The comparable period (April 2019-March 2020) prior to the pandemic saw £404.5m raised from 105,160 transactions equivalent to £3,846 per property. For the period April 2020 to March 2021 there were 96,900 transactions generating £367.4m in tax equivalent to £3,760 per property.

David Alexander, the chief executive officer of DJ Alexander Scotland, commented: “These figures highlight the enormous increases in property values in Scotland over the last three years. An average tax of £5,243 per transaction is a sign both that the property market has been booming but also that the more onerous taxation in Scotland is starting to pay dividends for the Scottish government.”

“With a higher tax rate for first time buyers north of the Border (there is no charge for properties up to £300,000 in England and Wales but they begin at £145,001 in Scotland) and substantially higher levels of property tax for more expensive properties in Scotland it would appear that these charges are beginning to bite. Anyone buying a property worth more than £325,001 in Scotland pays double the rate on the surplus that they would in England.”

David continued: “For those living in Edinburgh, where the latest data shows that average prices are £315,070, this potentially puts a disproportionate tax burden on a single city market. Of course, many people may question why anyone should feel sympathy for someone who can afford a more expensive property and that they should be made to pay more. The problem is that this is not the cultural or financial elite buying these homes. These are ordinary people. A couple with a joint income of £60,000 and a reasonable deposit would be able to buy properties incurring the higher level of tax so that includes large sections of the public sector including teachers, nurses, police, social workers, and many others. There is a balancing act in all tax policy where you want to maximise income without limiting activity and we may be at the tipping point where the Scottish property tax take is too high compared to the rest of the UK and is acting as a disincentive.”

“While these figures show a lively and buoyant market, they also reveal that landlords, property investors and second homeowners continue to contribute a substantial percentage of the Scottish government’s property-based income. Just under a third of all transactions in March 2022 were by investors, landlords and second homeowners and this accounted for £147m of revenue.”

David concluded: “More than ever we need to ensure that Scotland is a welcoming environment for the brightest and the best. We want to attract the best educated and most capable individuals with the ability to contribute enormously to the financial and economic growth of Edinburgh and Scotland as a whole. Putting financial barriers in place to attracting the most capable in society will do little to progress the future of Scotland. We must have a level playing field so that Scotland has a property market which is taxed and priced to attract the best if we are to create a country of opportunity and ability.”