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Stamp Duty Land Tax (Stamp duty) is a tax targeted at buyers of land, property and rights over property (like leases). You pay Stamp duty when you purchase property, or a piece of land. Not all purchases attract Stamp duty. The rules over when you have to pay Stamp duty and how much you must pay are extremely complicated. Generally, the following 6 factors will effect whether and how much you have to pay:

• Whether the land/property is used residentially or non-residentially;

• How much you paid for the land;

• Who you are: an individual, a company, a partnership

• Where you live: if you are a UK resident or non-resident;

• Why you brought the land/property;

• Whether you have bought anything else in a related transaction.

You normally have to pay Stamp duty within 30 days of when your property or land transaction completes. However, if you pay some money before completion or use a non-traditional agreement of purchasing land, you may have to pay stamp duty in multiple parts. To pay, you need to fill out a land transaction return on specific forms and send it to HMRC. Sometimes you will also need to send a letter explaining matters not covered on the forms. Your solicitor normally handles this for you at the same time as they manage the transaction. Typically, they will then make the payment to HMRC on your behalf.

In 2003 the government reformed the way it taxed purchases of land and created a new tax called Stamp Duty Land Tax which only applied to the buyer of land/property. There were a number of reasons for this but the main two where:

1. Stamp duty was too easy to avoid – stamp duty land tax is much more difficult to legally avoid paying.

2. Stamp duty was complex, was not always fair and sometimes did not make much sense. Stamp Duty Land Tax is still complicated and is, when people are not overpaying in the billions, perhaps a little fairer.

There are certain ways to reduce Stamp duty liability – by applying for reliefs or taking advantage of exemptions. Your advisor (typically your conveyancing solicitor) should deal with this. But in the main, where a transaction attracts Stamp duty, you must pay it.

HMRC estimate that over £ 2 billion in Stamp duty is overpaid each year. These overpayments often arise because professionals have made mistakes when filing a return on your behalf. The Criteria for paying stamp duty is complex and mistakes can be made when entering the data relating to the purchase of a property into the HMRC calculator. If it can be proved that an overpayment of Stamp Duty has been made, then a claim for repayment can be instigated.

Yes there is. To reclaim an overpayment from HMRC the deadline is usually 12 months and 14 days from when you paid the stamp duty. In extremely limited circumstances that deadline can be extended up to 4 years and 14 days. If you are too late to claim the repayment from HMRC (which is usually a quicker and more certain process) you can bring a court claim against a professional advisor if their advice or work was negligent and it caused you to overpay. In either scenario, we can help!