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Stamp Duty: the basics
Stamp Duty is a tax that used to apply to all purchases of property or shares. However when you buy property now you almost always pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). When you buy shares you usually pay Stamp Duty Reserve Tax, unless it's a paper transaction in which case you pay Stamp Duty.
Stamp Duty on property
Stamp Duty was payable on land and property transactions above a certain value up until December 2003. After 1 December 2003 it was replaced with Stamp Duty Land Tax. You can find out how much Stamp Duty Land Tax you have to pay in the guide Tax on buying property.
Stamp Duty is still payable if you're buying a property where the contract was drawn up before 10 July 2003 and the transfer documents haven't yet been 'stamped'. If this applies to you, you can find out more, including how to get documents stamped and the time limits for paying Stamp Duty, in the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) guide below.
Stamp Duty when buying shares
When you buy shares you pay Stamp Duty if it's a paper transaction or Stamp Duty Reserve Tax if it's an electronic, paperless transaction.
Most share transfers are made through a stockbroker using the electronic method, so in most cases you pay Stamp Duty Reserve Tax. The tax is automatically deducted at the time the transaction goes through.
If you buy shares using a stock transfer form it counts as a paper transaction and Stamp Duty is payable. Note that you only pay Stamp Duty when shares are transferred - you don't have to pay it when shares are first issued.