To discuss your residential property requirements, including requesting a conveyancing quote, please contact our Property Team by email or call them on 01225 462871. You can also request a conveyancing quote online.
Stamp Duty, or Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) to give its full name, is a tax payable when you buy houses, flats and other land and buildings over a certain price in the UK. Currently, Stamp Duty is uppermost in the minds of many people seeking to move home. The Chancellor’s announcement on 8th July of a Stamp Duty holiday until 31st March 2021, has the potential to save you thousands of pounds if your purchase is up to £500,000.
But in recent years, Stamp Duty has begun to attract more negative attention.
With various surcharges, exemptions and other idiosyncrasies, calculating the amount of Stamp Duty you have to pay is often complex. Even the government’s own online Stamp Duty Calculator recommends you should first “check the guidance if you are uncertain about how SDLT applies to your purchase or if you believe it may qualify for a relief.”
In addition, on 1st March 2019, with the stated aim of “improving the efficiency of the SDLT system”, the government reduced the amount of time available for filing an SDLT return and paying Stamp Duty, from 30 days to 14 days after the effective date of the transaction. The “effective date” is usually, but not always, the date of completion.
Complexity and increased pressure of time are unhappy bedfellows and the number of miscalculations by conveyancing firms has increased significantly. In some cases, purchasers have overpaid Stamp Duty by tens of thousands of pounds.
Many purchasers remain unaware of an overpayment until contacted by one of the growing number of SDLT claims sharks. As information about every transaction is freely available on the Land Registry website, these sharp operators trawl through thousands of transactions attempting to identify people who may have overpaid Stamp Duty. Once identified, they contact the unsuspecting purchaser, bringing increasing pressure upon them to use their services to claim a refund, typically citing complexity. Of course, they don’t do this with charitable intent, usually demanding a substantial proportion of any refund – very similar to PPI.
What should you do?
If you believe that you may have paid too much Stamp Duty, the first thing to do is to check the government guidance, which for most transactions is relatively easy to follow. If you are still concerned, speak to your conveyancing solicitor as soon as possible. They should be able to clarify the position very quickly, and if you have overpaid, not only will they be keen to assist you in claiming a refund, unlike the claims sharks, they will not demand a proportion.
If the matter is more complex, your solicitor can call upon the services of one of a number of firms who specialise in the calculation of Stamp Duty. The fees charged by these firms are very modest, usually under £100 – a small price to pay for certainty.