Q Please can you advise me whether my partner and I should wait until we marry to buy a new home together or not. I own three rental properties and would probably need to sell my current home to buy with my partner. I am unsure if we would be liable for the extra stamp duty on the purchase if we marry before buying, or if I alone would pay on 50% of the purchase if we are tenants in common. VF

A How you jointly own property – whether as tenants in common or joint tenants – makes no difference to how stamp duty is charged. Both the standard and higher rates of stamp duty are charged on the full purchase price of the property. There was a fairly technical – and untested – tax loophole around the legal definition of what constituted a “major interest” in a property, which meant that married couples could, in theory, get out of paying the higher rate of stamp duty by being tenants in common rather than joint tenants. But this loophole was closed last November, so how you own property no longer makes a difference.

If you sell your current home and buy another one to live in with your partner/spouse, the standard – rather than higher – rate of stamp duty will apply because you would be selling a main residence and replacing it with another. However, if your partner already owns property and doesn’t plan to sell it to buy with you, the higher rates will apply whether you are married or not. But if they were to sell their old home within three years of buying another with you, you would be able to get a rebate of the extra 3% added to the standard stamp duty rate.

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