The latest announcement from Labour is that first-time buyers will be given a ‚Äòholiday’ on stamp duty for homes purchased under £300,000. With the average house price in London standing at over £460,000 it is clear this policy will only be applicable outside of the capital.
A few weeks ago, the London Borough of Newham revealed that 13,000 local landlords had failed to declare their rental income, prompting estimates that £200m of tax was being evaded in London alone.
Today, Parliament has published an answer from the Treasury Minister Mel Stride to Frank Field, who asked what assessment the government had made of this. The Minister directed him (and us) to this information on tax gaps (pp54-5).
With a new Prime Minister and a new Chancellor heavily modifying their predecessors’ policies on the deficit, “affordable” housing and schools, the property industry is hopeful that the government will pursue similar revisionism on its landlord tax policy.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors this week called on the government to scrap the stamp duty surcharge on buy-to-let and second homes, while landlords have been in the High Court to challenge the withdrawal of mortgage interest tax relief for landlords paying higher rate income tax.
We’ve just learned that there will not be a judicial review of the government’s policy.
Having won the election, George Osborne used his first Budget of the parliament to rifle through the pockets of his vanquished political rivals. He abolished non-dom status for permanent UK residents and announced an increase in the minimum wage, dubbing it the Living Wage in the process – both more or less Labour election policies.
And he nicked a Green Party policy by cutting tax relief for landlords.
The buy-to-let ‚Äòboom’ that has occurred over the last twenty years, coinciding with the huge growth of the private rented sector more generally, has meant this kind of mortgage has been normalised within the British psyche, but without perhaps enough analysis of what it means for the economy and wider society.
It’s great that Labour is looking at cutting tax breaks for bad private sector landlords, but they should be targeting them all.