TIME TO STAND UP TO STAMP DUTY?

16.01.17

It's not hard to take on board the possibility that the stamp duty increases introduced by George Osborne have been primarily politically motivated. Many consider that the present government is concerned that by reducing this punitive tax, particularly for more expensive properties, the powers that be will be criticised for pandering to their nearest and dearest rich friends.

Successful businesses often make business decisions on the basis that they have limited opposition. Perhaps the time has finally come to show some backbone.

A short sharp message often has more impact than a long-winded one. Steve Norris's recent comments are a case in point: “The current system fails the market on so many levels,” he remarked. “It has immobilized middle-class Londoners.” For them, extra stamp duty is like “throwing money down the drain”. “It comes out of your equity and it’s gone, worthless to you and of no interest to your lender. At that rate I don’t know why anybody bothers moving - and the fact is that many don’t.”

If politicians actually took the time to speak to their constituencies, they would appreciate how much revenue they are losing. They need to consider their credibility. It's hard to talk about an aspirational nation and tax alcohol, tobacco and fizzy drinks because they are bad for you, then set draconian rates of tax on the property market which is seen as a soft touch.

People have been warning the Exchequer for years that they should be generating more revenue from stamp duty. And now, if the figures are genuinely coming down (which is no surprise to any of us), is that not tantamount to being guilty of a dereliction of duty?

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