Millions more to be hit by stamp duty

Peter Williams, deputy director general at the CML, said: "Home-owners are making a growing contribution to government revenue because of the failure to increase tax allowances. Since 1997, the number of homes that would be liable for stamp duty has grown by millions. At the same time, Government support for home-owners has diminished – MIRAS has been abolished and people have to wait longer for income support, which is also now less likely to cover their interest payments.

"The forthcoming Budget provides an important opportunity for the government to reform the way stamp duty is levied, in order to lessen its impact on the housing market. The Government should also look at ways of reforming state support so that home-owners are treated on an even footing with tenants. Home-owners are not entitled to Housing Benefit which means that they receive just eight per cent of the personal subsidies given for housing."

The CML figures show that more than 60 per cent of first-time buyers paid stamp duty in the final quarter of 2001, up from 23 per cent in the second quarter of 1997. In order to have risen in-line with house price inflation since May 1997, the stamp duty threshold, which has remained unchanged at £60,000, should have risen to £85,400.

In addition, the threshold for inheritance tax, which has risen to £242,000 from £215,000, should have moved up to £306,000. And, the cap on state support for mortgage interest payments, which has remained unchanged at £100,000, should have increased to £142,300.

The research has been confirmed by the Halifax, which has conducted its own research and has found that the increase in those paying stamp duty has been largely driven by first-time buyers.

Halifax has claimed that the average first-time buyer in six of the UK's 12 economic regions now pays stamp duty compared to only one – London – in 1993.

Gary Styles, head of group economics at the Halifax, said: "First-time buyers are paying the price of successive governments' failure since 1993 to increase the stamp duty threshold. This has resulted in more first-time buyers from more regions of the UK now paying more tax to buy their home."