Stamp duty on second homes is set to rise on 1 April 2016.
The increase was announced by the government last year and will be a surcharge of 3% of stamp duty land tax on purchases of additional homes. The measure is aimed at curbing the rapid growth of private landlord buy-to-lets, but it affects all second-homes purchasers.
People buying a second home will have to pay the 3% stamp duty surcharge in addition to the stamp duty ordinarily payable, even if the property is under the stamp duty threshold. This will add £7,500 to the cost of a home worth £250,000, making a total bill of £10,000.
Lawyers have queried how those liable for the new surcharge will be identified. Concerns have been voiced that solicitors will be expected to police the tax. Critics say conveyancers must not be held responsible for determining when a purchaser already owns a main residence; this is something for the purchasers themselves to identify.
The Law Society has also said that the policy could penalise individuals who already own an investment property but are looking to purchase a main residence.
The legal community is awaiting further details of the tax changes to be announced in the budget in March.