Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a tax that you pay when you buy a property in the UK.  The amount of SDLT you pay depends on the value of the property and whether you own more than one property.

The current headline levels of SDLT payable on residential property purchases are based on the following computational bands:

  • The first £250,000 – 0% SDLT if your only property. 3% if you own other residential property.
  • The next £675,000 (between £250,001 and £925,000) – 5% SDLT if only property.  8% if you own other residential property. 
  • The next £575,000 (between £925,001 and £1.5m) – 10% SDLT if only property.  13% if you own other residential property.
  • Remainder over £1.5m – 12% SDLT if only property.  15% if you own other residential property.

Whilst being married can be beneficial in other tax arenas, that is not seemingly the case with SDLT.     

Firstly, for the purposes of considering additional properties (and the extra 3% SDLT at each of the above bands), a married couple (or civil partnership) are treated as one person.  So, if either spouse owns another property, the extra charge will kick in.  This is not the case for unmarried couples (whether co-habiting or not), who (with simple planning) could benefit from one property each before suffering the extra 3% rate. 

You might think there would be some beneficial SDLT treatment on the transfer of properties between spouses or civil partners (in a similar way as there are for capital gains tax).  That is not the case – SDLT treats transfers between spouses and civil partners identically to transfers between unmarried (or even unconnected)  persons.  The transfer by way of gift a property that is subject to a mortgage can give rise to a charge to SDLT, even where the transfer is between spouses or civil partners. 

Ironically, the one time that being married may be beneficial for SDLT, is through a divorce!  There is a specific exemption from SDLT if you transfer an interest in a property as part of a divorce, dissolution of civil partnership or permanent separation.  Care is needed around the timing and reporting, but the separating married couple may be in a better SDLT position than separating unmarried co-owners.     

So, in on the face of it, the SDLT system could be seen as anti-marriage, but pro-divorce!

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Our private client tax team can talk all things SDLT.  If you have an issue, marriage related or not, feel free to get in touch. 

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