Property Transaction Taxes and the Housing Market: Evidence from Notches and Housing Stimulus in the UK

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 29.01.2013, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Henrik Jacobsen Kleven (London School of Economics)


We provide evidence on the e ffect of property transaction taxes (stamp duty) on house prices, the timing of house transactions, and the volume of house transactions. To address these questions, we exploit administrative data covering the universe of stamp duty tax returns in the United Kingdom from 2005-2011 along with compelling sources of identifying variation. First, discontinuous jumps in the stamp duty at threshold property prices|notches|allow us to estimate the e ffect of the tax on house prices. Second, anticipated and unanticipated changes in the tax schedule allow us to estimate the dynamics of price responses and timing e ffects on house transactions. Third, a temporary exemption of some properties from the tax|a stamp duty holiday|aimed at stimulating the housing market during recession allows us to provide micro evidence on macro stimulus policy. We fi nd that the eff ect of transaction taxes on house prices is large (often larger than the tax itself) and that dynamic adjustment to changes in transaction taxes is very fast. We also find that the timing of house transactions responds sharply to anticipated tax increases. Finally, temporary cuts in transaction taxes successfully stimulate housing market activity in the short run|a 1% cut in the tax achieves a stimulus e ffect of 10% additional transactions at its peak|but the temporary boost in activity is followed by a slump in activity after the policy is withdrawn. The cumulative effect of a 16-month stimulus program was fully neutralized only 10 months after the end of the program.

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