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BOOK REVIEW - Stamp Duty Land Tax
29/06/2015, by Mark McLaughlin CTA (Fellow) ATT TEP, Tax Articles - Stamp Duty, Stamp Duty Land Tax, SDLT
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Stamp Duty Land Tax (First Edition)

By Christopher Cox & Richard Woolich

Published by Sweet & Maxwell

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) can be very difficult and complex; the rules on SDLT for partnerships (FA 2003 Sch 15) are a good illustration of this. It is therefore a compliment to the authors of this book that they have covered the subject in such a practical, easy-to-read style and format.

‘Stamp Duty Land Tax’ is not very long by the normal standards of technical books. It comprises 325 pages, divided into 20 manageable, readable chapters. The order of chapters forms a logical structure. The commentary is set out in relatively short, concise paragraphs, with plenty of examples to illustrate the points being made. The examples tend to blend into the commentary, although there is perhaps a case for giving the examples a little more prominence.

A very likeable feature of this book is that the commentary is very easy to read and understand. The authors have chosen a difficult subject to cover, but explain it very clearly.

Some chapters will be of more interest to readers than others. I was particularly interested to read the commentary in Chapter 11 (‘Group and reconstruction reliefs’) and Chapter 12 (‘Partnerships’). As mentioned above, the latter is a very difficult area, but the authors have used their explanatory style to good effect in providing a helpful overview of the rules.

There is a tendency for some tax technical books to slavishly follow the wording of the legislation. However, this book does not follow that pattern in my view. Instead, it provides a very useful overview of the SDLT legislation. There are undoubtedly other SDLT publications which are more detailed and technical. But it depends what you are looking for. In practice, I would probably be inclined to use this book as a starting point in my technical research.

‘Stamp Duty Land Tax’ would be particularly useful to practitioners who are not specialists in this area, but wish to grasp the key concepts quickly and efficiently. However, this book has wider appeal, and in my view it would be a good addition to any practitioner’s library.

Other books on the market cover stamp taxes in general. This book is focused on SDLT. It is certainly a topical and important subject, enough to justify a book in its own right. At the time of writing this review, the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement 2014 announced a radical reform of the way in which SDLT is calculated in respect of residential property. For that reason alone, the authors of this book will have plenty to write about in the second edition!

In the meantime, an Autumn Statement 2014 Bulletin has been published to accompany purchases of this edition of the book. The Bulletin can be read alongside the main book text and all purchasers (including those who have already bought the book) will receive the Bulletin free of charge.

Further information and ordering details are included on the Sweet and Maxwell website.

About The Author

Mark McLaughlin is TaxationWeb's Co-Founder, Director and Technical Editor. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation and a member of the Association of Taxation Technicians and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. He lectures on tax subjects, is co-author of Tottel's IHT Annual and Ray & McLaughlin's IHT Planning, and Editor of Tottel's Tax Planning and Annual series. Mark's work has also been published in Taxation, Tax Adviser, Tolley's Practical Tax, Tax Journal and Simon's Weekly Tax Intelligence.

Since January 1998, Mark has been a consultant in his own tax practice, Mark McLaughlin Associates, which provides tax consultancy and support services to professional firms. He publishes a regular 'Tax Update' e-Newsletter for clients and other professional firms. To receive future copies, contact Mark via his website.

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