Stamp duty is a form of tax that is levied on documents.
In Australia, stamp duty is levied by the States on various instruments (i.e. written documents) and transactions. The rates of taxation vary from State to State as do the nature of the instruments or transactions subject to duty.
Major forms of duty include the transfer duty on the sale of land, businesses, shares and other forms of dutiable property; mortgage duty; lease duty and duty on the hire of goods.
Here is an online calculator for stamp duty on house purchases.
Rebates or exemptions are available from transfer duty and mortgage duty for those purchasing their first home.
On 20 April 2005 it was announced by the Treasurers of various States or Territories that they will phase out a number of duties over the course of the next 5 years. However duty on the sale of land will remain.
In the United Kingdom, stamp duty is a form of tax charged on instruments (that is, written documents), and requires a physical stamp to be attached to or impressed upon the instrument in question.
The scope of stamp duty has been reduced dramatically in recent years. Apart from transfers of shares and securities, the issue of bearer instruments and certain transactions involving partnerships, stamp duty was largely abolished in the UK from December 1, 2003 and replaced by two new transfer taxes derived from stamp duty, stamp duty reserve tax (SDRT) and stamp duty land tax (SDLT).
History of UK stamp duties
Stamp duty was first introduced in the UK in 1694, during the reign of William and Mary under "An act for granting to Their Majesties several duties on Vellum, Parchment and Paper for 4 years, towards carrying on the war against France". Similar duties had been levied in the Netherlands.
Stamp duty was so successful that it continues to this day through a series of Stamp Acts.
During the 18th and early 19th centuries, stamp duties were extended to cover newspapers, pamphlets, lottery tickets, apprentices' indentures, advertisements, playing cards, dice, hats, gloves, patent medicines, perfumes, insurance policies, gold and silver plate, hair powder and armorial bearings.
The attempted enforcement of the Stamp Act 1765 in the English colonies in America led to the outcry of no taxation without representation and the Boston Tea Party. In some ways, stamp duty led to the American War of Independence.
Historically, stamp taxes were administered by the Board of Stamps. This merged with the Board of Taxes in 1833/1834, and the Board of Inland Revenue was created under the Inland Revenue Board Act 1849 by merger of the Board of Excise and Board of Stamps and Taxes. Stamp taxes are now administered by the Inland Revenue Stamp Taxes business stream (formerly the Stamp Office).
The Stamp Duties Management Act 1891 and the Stamp Act 1891 still contain much of the operative law on stamp duties, although there have been significant amendments subsequently and a partial consolidation was made in Finance Act 1999. The Stamp Act 1891 was the inspiration for many of the older Australian stamp duty Acts.
Stamp duty reserve tax
Stamp duty reserve tax (SDRT) was introduced under Finance Act 1986 to ensure that a form of tax equivalent to stamp duty would continue to be payable on the transfer of uncertificated shares. At that time, it was expected that the TAURUS share trading system of would come into operation. In the event, SDRT was adapted for the charge to trading in uncertificated shares in CREST, and is charged on agreements to transfer shares and other securities. SDRT is not a stamp tax, but a self-assessed transfer tax which is usually collected automatically by stock market participants (such as brokers) when a transaction takes place.
Stamp duty remains in force for shares and securities that are held in certificated form which can only be transferred by using a physical stock transfer form, and runs in parallel to SDRT on agreements to transfer shares. Both are charged at a rate of 0.5% of the consideration for the transfer of shares (in the case of stamp duty, rounded up to the nearest £5). The same transcation may include an agreement to transfer shares which may trigger a liability to SDRT, and the agreement may later be completed by a transfer of the shares which is liable to stamp duty. Provided that the transfer is stamped within 6 years, the charge to SDRT is cancelled to avoid a double charge.
Stamp duty land tax
Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) is a new tax that was introduced by Finance Act 2003 with effect from December 1, 2003. SDLT is not a stamp duty, but a form of self-assessed transfer tax. SDLT is charged on "land transactions" and for typical transactions in land, such as the buying and selling of a residential houses, there is little change from stamp duty, except that a tax return is required to be made to the Inland Revenue and documents will no longer need to be given a physical stamp. Like any other self-assessed tax, but unlike stamp duty, the Inland Revenue is able to enquire into an SDLT return and raise assessments to recover unpaid SDLT.
For residential house purchases, the current rates in the UK are as follows:
|< £120,000 || 0%
| £120,001–£250,000 || 1%
| £250,001–£500,000 || 3%
| > £500,001 || 4%
SDLT is not a progressive tax, but rather works on a "slab" basis, so the above percentages apply to the whole of the purchase price. For example, a house priced at £250,000 would attract a SDLT of £2,500, but one of £250,001 would be liable to SDLT of £7,500. Some areas have been designated as disadvantaged areas and have relief from SDLT on residential transactions below a certain level.
In previous years, there had been a high level of house price inflation in the UK but no change in these thresholds, leading to a substantial increase in the revenue from SDLT through fiscal drag. In 2000-01, the Inland Revenue received £2.145bn from residential stamp duty. In 2002-03, it received £3.59bn .
In 2005, the threshold for paying SDLT was raised from £60,000 to £120,000.
In addition to SDLT on the purchase price for land, SDLT is also charged when a lease is granted. Any premium for the grant is charged to SDLT at the same rates as for the purchase price for a sale of land; SDLT is also charged on the rent payable under the lease, at the rate of 1% of the (discounted) net present value of rent passing under the whole term of the lease. Previously, stamp duty was charged at rate of up to 24% of the annual rent. The amount of SDLT due on the grant of a typical commerical lease generally amounts to a substantial increase from the amount of stamp duty that would have been due previously.
SDLT is also charged on certain transactions involving the transfer of land involving partnerships (transfers of land from or to the partners, or changes in the partners' partnership interests where the partnership owns land).
Although the federal government formerly imposed various documentary stamp taxes on deeds, notes and other transactional documents, in modern times such taxes are only imposed by states. Typically when real estate is transferred or sold, a real estate transfer tax will be collected at the time of registration of the deed in the public records. In addition, many states impose a tax on mortgages or other instruments securing loans against real property. This tax, known variously as a mortgage tax, intangibles tax, or documentary stamp tax, is also usually collected at the time of registration of the mortgage or deed of trust with the recording authority.