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Campaigners in Islington call for end of ‘unfair’ stamp duty

PUBLISHED: 19:04 13 August 2013 | UPDATED: 19:04 13 August 2013

Henry Zarb launched the anti-stamp duty campaign on Islington Green last week attracting scores of interest

Henry Zarb launched the anti-stamp duty campaign on Islington Green last week attracting scores of interest

Dieter Perry

Protesters have launched a borough-wide campaign calling for Stamp Duty to be axed while claiming would-be first-time Islington buyers are being priced out by the controversial tax.

The drive was launched last week after figures emerged showing Islington’s rocketing house prices mean 90 per cent of borough buyers are paying the 3 per cent – between £7,500 and £15,000 – rate for homes worth more than £250,000.

Local campaigners say this can make all the difference when it comes to young families achieving the dream of owning their own home in the borough and will drive in more overseas investors who don’t live here.

Henry Zarb, Islington coordinator for the Taxpayers’ Alliance (TA), which has launched the campaign, said soaring house values mean would-be first-time buyers are being landed with higher Stamp Duty bills.

The impact is increasingly being felt as thresholds for the amount of duty payable on a property rise sharply the more a property is worth.

Mr Zarb, 54, from Highbury, said: “It’s unfair for homebuyers here to be expected to pay this much because property prices have risen meaning people are paying more and more Stamp Duty, which is frankly stopping young people buying a home and starting a family.

“We’ll get into a position where the only people buying houses are overseas investors who don’t even live here half the time.

“If you have to find £20,000 on top of everything else it’s a huge chunk of cash and makes it very difficult for families who may want to move closer to work or schools here.

“With nine out of ten people buying a property in the borough paying an average of £23,000 in Stamp Duty, now is the time for families to be given a break and see a cut in this unfair tax.

“That’s what this campaign is all about. We’re asking for the system to be made fairer so people find it easier to buy homes and start a family.

“We’re not worried about the people buying for £1 million or more, it’s the £250,000 bracket which is usually the amount families might pay that we’re worried about. It’s really hitting people low down and the rising value in property prices hasn’t been taken into account.”

Figures show Islington homeowners paid £63 million in stamp duty last year – among the top 10 boroughs across London – on 2,723 homes.

The highest London borough was Westminster, which £295 million while Barking & Dagenham raised the least with £2.5 million. The figures also revealed homeowners across London pay half the Stamp Duty of the entire country - £1.8 billion in total.

Buyers currently pay 1 per cent Stamp Duty on home’s worth between £125,000 and £250,000, 3 per cent on those from £250,000 and £500,000, 4 per cent on £500,000 to £1 million, 5 per cent on £1 million to £2 million and 7 per cent on anything more than £2 million.

In June 1997 the then Labour Government originally introduced 1 and 2 per cent bands before creating a 3 per cent band a year later.

In 2011, now Chancellor George Osborne implemented the 4 and 5 per cent bands adding a 7 per cent bracket in 2012.

To join the Stamp Out Stamp Duty campaign contact Mr Zarb on henry.zarb@taxpayersalliance.com

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