Property Tax Shock Awaits Returning British Expats

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Expats looking to move back to the UK could face unexpected property tax bills.

Everyone buying a home in England must pay stamp duty on property purchases of more than £125,000, while Scotland and Wales have their own rules.

But many expats do not realise they could fall outside of the normal stamp duty rules if they buy a home ready to move but delay coming back to the UK.

Even if they do not have a main home in the UK, buying a property can send expats into the additional home stamp duty bracket.

This means paying a stamp duty surcharge of 3% on top of the current rates for each tax band.

Unclear policy

And things could become worse if Prime Minister Theresa May manages to guide a new policy adding another stamp duty surcharge for foreign residents buying homes in the UK.

The surcharge is on top of the current additional rate and the policy announcement was unclear if the aim was to include British expats as non-resident buyers.

Downing Street is reticent about the details, only commenting a consultation with more information was on the way, outlining the money raised would go towards helping the homeless.

May said: “Currently foreign buyers can purchase homes in the UK as easily as people who live here but there is evidence this is inflating house prices.

The British dream

“At the Conservative conference last year, I said I would dedicate my premiership to restoring the British dream, that life should be better for each new generation, and that means fixing our broken housing market.

“Britain will always be open to people who want to live, work and build a life here.

“However it cannot be right that it is as easy for individuals who don’t live in the UK, as well as foreign-based companies, to buy homes as hard working British residents.”

UK stamp duty rates

Minimum purchase price Maximum purchase price Stamp Duty rate (Applies to the part of the property price falling within each band)
Standard home purchase Additional rate
£0 £40,000 0% 0%
£40,001 £125,000 0% 3%
£125,001 £250,000 2% 5%
£250,001 £925,000 5% 8%
£925,001 £1.5 million 10% 13%
Over £1.5 million 12% 15%

Source: HMRC

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