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"Confusing" Stamp Duty advice to be updated

Monday 19 February 2018

The Government is set to update its guidance on the higher rate of Stamp Duty, which has been branded so confusing that solicitors and estate agents have been caught out.

Since the additional 3 per cent surcharge was first levied on second homes in April 2016, more than 15,700 individuals have wrongly paid the duty and are now eligible for a refund, according to HMRC figures.

A spokesman for HMRC said: “We keep all guidance under constant review, including taking legal developments into account.

“HMRC is working to update its guidance on the higher rates of stamp duty land tax.”

The news comes after the Law Society criticised a “lack of clarity” in the guidance.

Sarah Dwight, a member of the Law Society’s conveyancing and land law committee, said: “It is a very complex area and the guidance does not give conveyancing lawyers much clarity.

“HMRC seems to have thought the guidance it issued was going to be sufficient, but there are so many different types of scenarios that arise when people are seeking to buy and sell a property, that not everyone fitted into HMRC’s boxes.”

Last year homebuyers paid a record £9.5bn in stamp duty land tax, of which one-fifth was generated by a stamp duty surcharge on buy-to-let and second homes.

Takings from the surcharge rose 16 per cent in 2017, according to figures from HM Revenue & Customs, suggesting a significant number of buyers were not deterred by the tax changes.

Last month, a letting agent in Teesside who bought a property with his wife was told that because his wife owned two buy-to-let properties, they would have to pay an extra £14,160. But after paying almost £28,000 in Stamp Duty their protests were eventually proved right.
 

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