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Make sellers pay stamp duty, not buyers, says major lender

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Stamp duty should be paid by sellers, rather than buyers, to help struggling wannabe homeowners, according to one of the UK’s biggest mortgage lenders.

Yorkshire Building Society said reforming the stamp duty rules would remove the tax burden entirely for 225,000 people getting on the housing ladder every year.

It would save first time buyers in the UK, excluding Scotland where stamp duty is no longer paid, an average of £3,791, with Londoners saving the most at an average of £13,171.

The unpopular tax is currently paid by people buying a house. The amount paid depends on the property’s purchase price. The starting threshold is £125,000 – below that amount no tax is due.

A total of 225,200 first-time buyers paid stamp duty in the 12 months to June 2016, having purchased a property above £125,000, representing 75% of all first time buyers.

Andrew McPhillips, chief economist at Yorkshire Building Society, said: “The benefits would not only be felt by those looking to get on the property ladder as anyone moving up it would be better off too.

“The Prime Minister has pledged to make intergenerational support a key measure of her Government’s housing agenda and this measure could achieve exactly that.

“This will not solve every cause of the housing crisis but reforming stamp duty could ease its effects by making homes more affordable.”

The lender said the reform would lead to an additional 16,000 property sales in the first year, including 6,000 by first time buyers.

Stamp duty generated £7.8bn for the exchequer between June 2015 and June 2016.

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