Could sellers soon be paying stamp duty instead of buyers? What we know so far...

We've trawled through the newspapers so you don't have to

'Will sellers pay stamp duty' has been the question on everyone’s lips in recent days. Rumours have been circulating that the UK chancellor was planning a major stamp duty reform following an interview on Friday.

Related: The cost of moving house – and how you can make savings

With speculation going through the roof over the last few days, we’ve trawled through the news cuttings to get to the bottom of what’s going on so you don’t have to.

The 'sellers pay stamp duty' rumour – how it started

The speculation kicked off after the UK chancellor Sajid Javid announced in an interview with The Times that he was looking to create a more efficient tax system. He didn’t deny he was considering major reform to stamp duty, telling The Times: ‘I’m looking at various options. I’m a low-tax guy. I want to see simpler taxes.’

house exterior with white windows and door

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

The Times reported that the chancellor was ‘looking at various options when asked about stamp duty reforms, including reversing liability from those buying property to those selling.’ So the rumours started to run riot about Mr Javid’s plans for the Budget that will be revealed in the autumn.

What is stamp duty?

Currently, stamp duty is a purchase tax that applies to properties in England and Northern Ireland worth more than £125,000. It currently falls on the buyer to pay the tax.

white living room with sofa and white cupboard

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

However, if the tax was switched to sellers it would make house purchases cheaper for anyone buying a first home or climbing the property ladder.

However, on the flip side, it would make it more expensive for owners looking to downsize. 'The move would hit older people seeking to downsize in particular,' says Paula Higgins, chief executive of the property advice website HomeOwners Alliance.

'It would have been bad news for downsizers, who would have to pay a lump sum at the point of sale when many are hoping to free up equity to pay for retirement or help their children and grandchildren move on and up the property ladder,' Paula adds. 'It would have been an even bigger barrier to freeing up larger, under-occupied family homes.'

So will sellers pay stamp duty?

According to Sajid Javid, the stamp duty speculation, is just that, speculation. In a tweet, he claimed that shifting the burden from buyer to seller is NOT being looked at.

‘More speculation about stamp duty this morning. To be clear, I never said to @thetimes I was planning to put it on sellers, and I wouldn’t support that. I know from @mhclg that we need bold measures on housing – but this isn’t one of them.’

So, it seems the rumours were a false alarm. However, we’ll be eagerly awaiting to see what the chancellor's ‘bold measures on housing’ will be.

Related: There's a way for first-time buyers to get a house without a mortgage – but would you do it?

The chancellor says he hasn’t decided whether to hold the budget before the UK is expected to leave the EU. Until then all we can do is wait.

Rebecca Knight
Deputy Editor, Digital

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.