Government closes stamp duty loophole for divorcing couples

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Divorcing partners who were forced to pay the higher rate of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) when buying a new house may have been given a pass in the Chancellor’s latest financial update, according to a report in the Telegraph.

The higher rate of SDLT was introduced in April 2016, charging an additional three per cent on the purchase of additional residential properties, such as buy-to-let and second homes.

Unfortunately, the net was cast much too far, meaning couples going through a divorce but still legally living in the same property were unable to purchase a new home without occurring the higher rate of stamp duty. This would often cost the couple tens of thousands of pounds more.

But new legislation included in this year’s Autumn Budget may have offered divorcing couples an escape clause.

According to the report, couples who have yet to be granted a decree nisi can now seek a court order to be exempted from the additional rate of stamp duty.

It is important to note that the Budget wording specifically refers to a court order, meaning couples cannot agree to move out of the matrimonial home between themselves.

For more information, do not hesitate in contacting a member of our expert family law resolution team.

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