Law Society of Scotland calls for close monitoring of second home tax

Law SocietyThe Law Society of Scotland has said the effects of an additional tax on second homes should be monitored closely to ensure that people who are simply trying to move house are not caught out by the proposed new charge.

The lawyers’ body intervened ahead of the stage 3 debate on the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill today.

The proposed law would apply a 3 per cent tax supplement to the purchase price of an additional residential property purchase above £40,000.

Isobel d’Inverno, convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s Tax Committee, said: “We understand the Scottish Government’s policy intent behind the new tax on second homes. However we want to be sure that the tax is fairly applied and will not penalise people unnecessarily.

“The Bill has been amended to provide some protection for people who are simply moving from one home to another but experience a delay in concluding the sale of their previous home.

“However we have concerns that the proposed grace period may not be enough, resulting in purchasers who do not intend to own a second home and do so only because of an unanticipated delay in the sale of their former home still having to pay the additional 3 per cent.

“They would be able to apply to claim it back once the sale has concluded, but this creates an additional administrative burden for both the purchaser and Revenue Scotland as well as presenting funding issues for the purchaser.

“This is a particular concern for the purchase of homes below £145,000, where the supplement would be payable even though no LBTT was due.

“Given rules around determining the main residence on the basis of facts, we also have concerns that separated or divorced partners might end up with a jointly owned property for a lengthy period, an ex-partner unable to buy out the other ex-partner. We believe consideration should be given to offering relief in such cases.

“The Land and Building Transaction Tax is one of the first new taxes to be devolved to Scotland. It’s important that the additional dwellings supplement work as well as possible from the outset.”

The Law Society of Scotland response is available to read on its website.

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