Banner triangles

Modernising property taxes

The following article is a foreword to our ‘Modernising Property Taxes’ paper, which has been produced in partnership with think tank group, Radix, and can be downloaded for free below.

Following the Government’s commitment to ‘levelling up’, many would have expected 2020 to see the political football of the UK’s housing crisis tackled. Inevitably, however, the triple distractions of Brexit, the US election and most of all, COVID-19, have dominated the political agenda. We must instead return to the issue with renewed urgency in 2021.

The living sector has faced numerous challenges in recent years, from lack of stock to regional pricing imbalance to changing design needs and now the impact of a global pandemic. However, the sector is nothing if not resilient and innovative and, while these challenges remain very real, it is increasingly clear that the sector is in desperate need of tax reform. There have been constant tweaks to Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) – from “slab” to “slice” to new bands to surcharges – resulting in an unwieldy and distinctly unsatisfactory system. Council Tax, however, has been left well alone for 30 years but nevertheless feels outdated and unfair.

As lawyers, legitimacy and fairness are at the heart of the cases we study and the theory of law. In our day-to-day roles, we must argue both sides of a point, whether it reflects our personal beliefs or not.

When we were asked to partner with Radix to bring forward these essays, we jumped at the chance as we believe that facilitating broad views and ideas is important in helping the decision makers in government to effect much needed positive change for the benefit of those looking to get on, or off, the housing ladder, as well as encouraging economic growth, workforce mobility and dealing with the homelessness crisis.

The essays that follow contain a variety of views and proposals from contributors in their personal capacity on reform of our property tax system. While we do not necessarily endorse the views provided, we encourage and welcome a stimulating debate from a variety of different stakeholders. We hope that in coming together and working collaboratively, regardless of political persuasions, this will help us to consider a better, fairer way forward.


To read our ‘Modernising Property Taxes’ paper, produced in partnership with Radix, please click on the link to the right of this page.


This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2022.


Read the latest articles and commentary from Shoosmiths or you can explore our full insights library.