Stamp duty deadline and decision day for solar tax draw near

First-time buyers keen to save thousands of pounds need to get their skates on to benefit from the stamp duty holiday, which ends on March 24, while homeowners who want to cut fuel bills and go green with solar panels face an anxious wait for an Appeal Court ruling
Two key deadlines are looming: the end of the Government’s Stamp Duty tax break for first time buyers and an Appeal Court judgement over Government proposals to cut the payments made to people with solar technology.

First time buyers keen to save themselves thousands of pounds from the Government’s Stamp Duty Holiday need to complete their home buying transaction by March 24.

Estate agents predict a flood of interest in properties under £250,000 before the controversial reintroduction of one per cent Stamp Duty payments on homes priced between £125,000 and £250,000. Buyers can save up to £2,500 by acting fast.

Meanwhile the Government is committed to halving payments made under the feed-in tariff scheme for energy produced via solar panels and sold back to the national grid.

At present the scheme is highly-subsidised at 43 pence per kWh, helping people who decide to invest in sustainable technology recoup their costs. The Government hopes to reduce that payment to 21 pence – a decision that would affect all solar installation carried out after December 12.

However its plans have been derailed by a successful High Court appeal led by Friends of the Earth (FoE), which concluded that cutting payments before a full consultation had been carried out would be unlawful.

On Friday the case was taken to the Appeal Court by the Government which is expected to rule later this month on whether the cut can be made.

A spokeswoman for FoE said that if the appeal was quashed the 43p rate would stay while the Government carried out consultation on its proposals. She added that the FoE wanted the rate to come down to 21p – but in a legal and planned way. “There may be a window of opportunity for the higher rate, but at the moment we just don’t know.”

A spokesman for The Energy Saving Trust pointed out that either way the subsidy for microgeneration was substantial – at 43 pence a homeowner could earn £1,600 a year, and at 21 pence they will still earn around £800.

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