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The incidence of transaction taxes: Evidence from a stamp duty holiday


  • Besley, Timothy
  • Meads, Neil
  • Surico, Paolo


This paper exploits the 2008–09 stamp duty holiday in the United Kingdom to estimate the incidence of a transaction tax on housing. The average reduction in the after-tax sale price is found to be around £900 against the backdrop of an average tax reduction of about £1500. While we estimate an increase in transactions of properties affected by the tax holiday around 8%, most of this effect appears to have reversed rapidly after the policy was withdrawn, suggesting mostly a short-term retiming of transactions. The findings are calibrated to a simple bargaining model to show they imply that about sixty percent of the surplus generated by the holiday accrued to buyers.

Suggested Citation

  • Besley, Timothy & Meads, Neil & Surico, Paolo, 2014. "The incidence of transaction taxes: Evidence from a stamp duty holiday," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 61-70.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:119:y:2014:i:c:p:61-70
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2014.07.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wojciech Kopczuk & David Munroe, 2015. "Mansion Tax: The Effect of Transfer Taxes on the Residential Real Estate Market," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 214-257, May.
    2. Raj Chetty, 2009. "Sufficient Statistics for Welfare Analysis: A Bridge Between Structural and Reduced-Form Methods," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 451-488, May.
    3. Ben Dachis & Gilles Duranton & Matthew A. Turner, 2012. "The effects of land transfer taxes on real estate markets: evidence from a natural experiment in Toronto," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(2), pages 327-354, March.
    4. Jos Van Ommeren & Michiel Van Leuvensteijn, 2005. "New Evidence of the Effect of Transaction Costs on Residential Mobility," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(4), pages 681-702, November.
    5. Christoph Engel, 2011. "Dictator games: a meta study," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(4), pages 583-610, November.
    6. Kotlikoff, Laurence J. & Summers, Lawrence H., 1987. "Tax incidence," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 16, pages 1043-1092, Elsevier.
    7. Merlo, Antonio & Ortalo-Magne, Francois, 2004. "Bargaining over residential real estate: evidence from England," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 192-216, September.
    8. Hessel Oosterbeek & Randolph Sloof & Gijs van de Kuilen, 2004. "Cultural Differences in Ultimatum Game Experiments: Evidence from a Meta-Analysis," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 7(2), pages 171-188, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hilber, Christian A.L. & Lyytikäinen, Teemu, 2017. "Transfer taxes and household mobility: Distortion on the housing or labor market?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 57-73.
    2. Dominika Langenmayr, 2017. "Voluntary Disclosure of Evaded Taxes - Increasing Revenue, or Increasing Incentives to Evade?," NBER Chapters, in: Personal Income Taxation and Household Behavior (TAPES), National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Hilber, Christian A. L. & Schöni, Olivier, 2016. "Housing policies in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the United States: lessons learned," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 72818, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Essi Eerola & Oskari Harjunen & Teemu Lyytikäinen & Tuukka Saarimaa, 2019. "Effects of Housing Transfer Taxes on Household Mobility," CESifo Working Paper Series 7750, CESifo.
    5. Christian A. L. Hilber & Teemu Lyytikäinen, 2012. "The Effect of the UK Stamp Duty Land Tax on Household Mobility," SERC Discussion Papers 0115, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    6. Clemens Fuest & Mathias Dolls & Carla Krolage & Florian Neumeier, 2019. "Who Bears the Burden of Real Estate Transfer Taxes? Evidence from the German Housing Market," ifo Working Paper Series 308, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    7. Braakmann, Nils & McDonald, Stephen, 2020. "Housing subsidies and property prices: Evidence from England," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(C).
    8. Thiess Büttner, 2017. "Welfare Cost of the Real Estate Transfer Tax," CESifo Working Paper Series 6321, CESifo.
    9. Fritzsche, Carolin & Vandrei, Lars, 2019. "The German real estate transfer tax: Evidence for single-family home transactions," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 131-143.
    10. Slemrod, Joel & Weber, Caroline & Shan, Hui, 2017. "The behavioral response to housing transfer taxes: Evidence from a notched change in D.C. policy," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 137-153.
    11. Langenmayr, Dominika, 2017. "Voluntary disclosure of evaded taxes — Increasing revenue, or increasing incentives to evade?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 151(C), pages 110-125.
    12. Elinder, Mikael & Persson, Lovisa, 2017. "House price responses to a national property tax reform," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 18-39.
    13. Daniel Borbely, 2018. "Limiting the distortionary impacts of transaction taxes: Scottish stamp duty after the Mirrlees Review," Working Papers 1817, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
    14. Kunka Petkova & Alfons J. Weichenrieder & Alfons Weichenrieder, 2017. "Price and Quantity Effects of the German Real Estate Transfer Tax," CESifo Working Paper Series 6538, CESifo.
    15. Divya Singh, 2020. "Do Property Tax Incentives for New Construction Spur Gentrification? Evidence from New York City," 2020 Papers psi856, Job Market Papers.
    16. Chu, Shiou-Yen, 2018. "Macroeconomic policies and housing market in Taiwan," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 404-421.

    More about this item


    Tax holiday; Surplus incidence; Surveyor's evaluation;

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • R32 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Other Spatial Production and Pricing Analysis


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