There’s a first for everything…

…well at least since King John of Magna Carta fame was strutting his stuff attempting to control those pesky barons (think Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party). As the ‘First Welsh Tax for 800 years’ headlines have been screaming at us over the past week, come April 2018, it will be all change. Er, right. The Welsh Assembly will gain royal assent for a replacement for the current SDLT (Stamp Duty Land Tax) for the far punchier, straight-out of-the traps ‘Land Transaction Tax and Anti-avoidance of Devolved Taxes Bill’. OK. Try that one after three Bacardis or a pot of Tetley for that matter. Just one slight crib with the title; in 30 years I have yet to be privy to any way of ‘avoiding’ stamp duty or the like, without incurring the wrath of the powers that be and/or a substantial fine and time at one of HM’s hostelries. Anyway, who am I to question the wisdom of our National Assembly? What I can ask, is why is this happening exactly? According to Mark Drakeford, the Welsh Government Finance Secretary, the tax will “broadly mirror” stamp duty, providing “consistency and stability” for business and a “smooth transaction” for those involved in the property market. Er, right. So what is it abut the current stamp duty that doesn’t allow all these things to happen, particularly as the incoming tax is planned to be very similar?

As no-one has yet explained why the change and why the need for the change, how about the cost? In true obfuscation and wishy-washy, we don’t actually have the answer to that one, the Assembly have said that they will publish the rates and bands for the proposed tax closer to the Spring of 2018 (i.e they are still arguing over what they will be) and the “economic conditions at the time” will be taken into account (cue lots of hand-wringing and anyone who is anti-socialist and has worked hard to be able to buy a large house will get screwed).

Until the actual tax rates are announced we will know very little about how this will impact on buyers. Is it possible that sellers will also feel the weight of taxation on their shoulder? There’s a thought. What is noteworthy, is that there is no clear mention of whether the new tax will ‘broadly mirror’ the current tax for owners of more than one property. All the Assembly have offered is that higher rates are “under consideration”. My second career as a Jesuit priest/lion tamer/porn star/Olympic gymnast is also “under consideration”…

Again, there was a paucity of straight forward, unequivocal answers to the question of where will the money earned from the new tax be spent? Ummmm. Answers on a postcard please. If they are looking for a project (always very favorable and earns brownie points in the ‘doing something for the community’category),  The Chesh Retirement Home for Fallen Women would be a worthy recipient. I will be starting interviews for potential residents next week. Dress code for the interview is optional…