Suspension of stamp duty ‘won’t work’

Alistair Darling

Darling: backd into a corner

A stamp duty holiday will not work in boosting the property market, a leading
tax adviser has said.

According to Mike Warburton, Grant Thornton’s senior tax partner, the Tories’
suspension of stamp duty for nine months in 1991 failed in what it was designed
to achieve.

‘It [suspension of stamp duty] didn’t do any good then and it won’t do any
good now,’ he said.
Earlier this week, chancellor Alistair Darling rejected a third request for a
meeting with estate agents over proposals to lift the tax, refusing to be pushed
on the issue.

The uncertainty also continues for homebuyers, who are holding off purchasing
property until a decision has been reached.

The Treasury meanwhile had declined, at the time Accountancy Age
went to press, to clarify its intentions or explicitly disavow the mooted plans.

Warburton also believes continuing conjecture over the chancellor’s handling
of proposed stamp duty suspension is unwarranted. He said Darling had got
himself trapped into a corner when questioned about the state of the housing

‘I feel sorry for the chancellor because he was trapped. The same thing
happened with petrol duty. I think he should have said no comment. The comment
he made opened up the possibility…he should have said that this was something he
wasn’t in a position to comment on,’ he said.

Related reading

Life Belt with Computer Folders