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The Penalty For Living in London–it’s called Stamp Duty

Stamp duty VidhurFirst and second quarter figures for Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) receipts were released last week, showing that – overall – transactions that triggered SDLT on residential properties increased from Q1 to Q2 this year, having picked up in every category with the exception of transactions of £2 million and over.

With that in mind, independent lettings and sales agent Benham and Reeves looked into regional Stamp Duty data from 2008-2018 and the result is a revealing and rather stark contrast between that paid by Londoners and everywhere else.

For example, while the total number of transactions on residential property in London (125,000) accounted for 11.3% of the overall total (1,106,000), SDLT receipts in the capital at £3.6 billion made up a disproportionate 39.2% of all SDLT receipts for residential property (£9.2 billion). And although the estimated residential property value of properties sold in the capital (£73.1 billion) represented 23.2% of the residential total for all regions (£315 billion), the receipts were again disproportionate relative to other regions’ sold value. A mismatch. An imbalance.

In the South East, the total number of transactions (178,000) accounted for 16.1% of the overall total and Stamp Duty receipts (£1.9 billion) made up 21.5% of all such receipts on residential properties. The estimated residential property value (£64.1 billion) was 20.3% of the residential total for all regions; the figures were much more balanced across the board than in London.

There was also a skew when comparing statistics for London from 2018 to those from 2008; the number of transactions on residential properties dropped from 186,000 to 125,000 – a change of -32.8% – but receipts increased from £1.9 billion to £3.6 billion, which is a rise of 86.4%.

Finance Director of Benham and Reeves, Vidhur Mehra, commented:

“Stamp Duty is a tax penalty disproportionately aimed at London. Despite representing approximately just 1.3% of England’s landmass, the capital is responsible for one third of all property taxes by way of Stamp Duty!

And this is not just because London is a more expensive part of the country, but also because at higher values the levy is now designed to penalise that sector harder in relative terms.

It’s also a tax on aspiration, choking the upwardly mobile who happen to live where many of the UK’s jobs and transport infrastructure are provided.”

Stamp Duty Land Tax data for Residential Property

Year→ 2007-08 2017-18
Location / regions ↓ Number of transactions (thousands) Estimated property value (£million) Receipts (£ million) Number of transactions (thousands) Estimated property value (£million) Receipts (£ million)
All 1,532 330,465 6,680 1,106 315,060 9,275
England 1,289 288,960 6,040 1,023 301,440 9,070
North East 64 9,095 100 44 7,125 105
North West 169 26,615 370 136 25,465 455
Yorkshire and The Humber 126 19,830 260 100 18,465 310
East Midlands 110 18,325 265 96 19,280 330
West Midlands 119 20,685 315 103 22,065 400
East of England 150 33,950 680 120 38,340 1,025
London 186 68,460 1,950 125 73,100 3,635
South East 225 60,470 1,445 178 64,095 1,995
South West 138 31,530 655 121 33,500 815
Wales 65 10,390 135 56 9,845 160
Scotland 145 23,495 350 x x x
Northern Ireland 33 7,620 155 27 3,775 45
Total – Eng, Wales, N Ireland 1,387 306,970 6,330 1,106 315,060 9,275

Stamp Duty data collected from


About the Author

Vidhur studied Management Sciences at Manchester University, focusing on accountancy, before going on to qualify as a chartered accountant. He began his career working in investment banking but after several years decided to join Benham and Reeves in 2003. Since then he has expanded the finance department, introducing a broader range of services to encompass all financial aspects of property investment, from collecting rent through to completing tax returns (or ATED returns for overseas companies). Read more about Vidhur Mehra here - Read full profile