This report describes trends in Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and Scottish Landfill Tax (SLfT) declared due during the first six years of devolved tax collection in Scotland, from April 2015 to March 2021.1 The impact of COVID-19 on numbers of transactions and revenue is evident within these statistics and more detail is provided below and in the relevant sections of the publication.
Land and Buildings Transaction Tax
- £526 million in LBTT revenues were declared due during 2020/21, including £127 million net Annual Dwelling Supplement (ADS) payments, some portion of which may later be reclaimed.
- April 2020 saw an unprecedented drop in the number of LBTT returns of all types submitted during the initial COVID-19 lockdown, before steadily recovering from July 2020 onwards.
- In 2020/21, residential conveyances accounted for around 73 per cent (£382 million) of total LBTT declared due, non-residential conveyances accounted for 24 per cent (£126 million) and leases accounted for 4 per cent (£19 million).
- LBTT revenues from residential conveyances increased every year from 2015/16 to 2019/20 before falling in 2020/21, along with a drop in the number of residential returns received related to COVID-19 restrictions, and a reduction in tax due for the majority of returns due to a temporary change in the nil rate band.
- Residential LBTT revenue excluding ADS is dominated by transactions in the £325,000 to £750,000 band, which in 2020/21 contributed 64 per cent of revenue while making up 12 per cent of returns. 41 per cent of residential returns received in 2020/21 fell into the £0 to £145,000 tax band, down from 53 per cent in 2015/16.
Additional Dwelling Supplement
- £154 million gross ADS was declared due in 2020/21, a 6 per cent decrease on the previous year. Gross ADS declared due increased every year from 2016/17 to 2019/20 before falling in 2020/21, reflecting a drop in the number of LBTT returns received.
- ADS was declared due for 21 per cent of all residential conveyances in 2020/21. Among ADS returns submitted up to and including 2019/20, 27 per cent of gross ADS declared due has since been reclaimed, relating to 18 per cent of all ADS returns in that period.
- Taxpayers state their intention to reclaim an ADS payment on the tax return. For 80 per cent of ADS returns submitted in 2020/21, the taxpayer did not intend to reclaim the ADS declared due. Transactions where the taxpayer has declared ADS but does not intend to reclaim the ADS are more likely to be lower in value compared to transactions where the taxpayer intends to reclaim ADS.
- The majority of ADS reclaims (85 per cent) are made within one year of the original transaction.
- £126 million LBTT was declared due for 5,940 non-residential conveyances in 2020/21. This is a significant (-27 per cent) drop from the average annual revenue of £173 million for the previous five years.
- LBTT revenues from non-residential conveyances and leases are volatile due to fluctuations in small numbers of very high value transactions. Each year so far the largest 5 per cent of transactions have contributed 71 to 75 per cent of total LBTT revenues from non-residential conveyances, with a similar distribution for leases (63 per cent to 74 per cent).
- Leases contributed £19 million LBTT revenue in 2020/21, the lowest annual total so far.
- Three-yearly lease reviews and lease assignation reviews together resulted in net LBTT declared due of £0.5 million in 2020/21. This value was completely offset by lease terminations leading to a net neutral position for all reviews of leases.
- 2,900 LBTT returns for reviews of a lease were received in 2020/21, a decrease of 37 per cent from 2019/20. 73 per cent declared no change in LBTT due from the original lease, 15 per cent declared additional LBTT due and 11 per cent resulted in a claim for repayment of LBTT. Three year lease reviews accounted for 78 per cent of reviews of a lease.
- The City of Edinburgh accounted for £86 million in residential LBTT revenues (excluding ADS) in 2020/21, 33 per cent of the total. The second largest contributor, Glasgow City, accounted for £20 million (8 per cent), although there were similar numbers of residential conveyances in both local authorities (around 10,500).
- In 2020/21, the proportion of residential conveyance returns in which the taxpayer declared ADS due but did not intend to reclaim it ranged from 9 to 27 per cent, highest in Na-h-Eileanan Siar (27 per cent), Argyle and Bute (25 per cent) and Dundee City (24%) and lowest in Midlothian (9%) and East Dunbartonshire (10%)
- £104 million potential LBTT revenues were foregone to reliefs in 2020/21, with around 3,030 returns receiving relief. From 2019/20 to 2020/21 there was a five-fold decrease (-80 per cent) in the number of returns claiming relief. This is predominantly due to the temporary change to the upper threshold for the nil rate band of tax (from £145,000 to £250,000 from 15 July 2020 to 31 March 2021) which essentially rendered First-Time Buyer relief temporarily redundant. The value of revenue foregone to reliefs was less affected with only a 7% drop observed.
- Non-residential transactions account for the majority (87 per cent) of revenue forgone to reliefs over the past 6 years, primarily group relief (66 per cent of all relief).
Scottish Landfill Tax
- Scottish Landfill Tax has fallen from £149 million in 2015/16 to £106 million in 2020/21.
- £106 million SLfT declared due in 2020/21 represents a decrease of 10 per cent on the previous year, continuing the year on year downward trend, driven by decreases in the disposal of standard rate waste to landfill (1.17 million tonnes in 2020/21, down 13 per cent from the previous year).
- SLfT declared due for the first quarter of 2021 was unusually low (40 per cent lower than the previous year) due to the disruption of the initial COVID-19 restrictions; whereas revenues during quarters 2 to 4 were very similar to those reported for the same quarters in the previous year.
1 Information on taxes declared due after March 2021 can be found in the monthly LBTT statistics publication and quarterly SLfT statistics publication: https://www.revenue.scot/about-us/publications/statistics