OPEN LETTER: HMRC (Stamp Duty Land Tax)

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A number of shared owners have received incorrect advice on Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) from their solicitors, and have over-paid as a consequence. Existing HMRC guidance should be updated and refunds provided to all affected shared owners.

Date: 28 July 2023

To: Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC Director General for Customer Service

Dear Ms Lloyd,

I am writing to draw your attention to a new report published on 31 May 2023 – Shared Ownership: The Consumer Perspective. (I have previously emailed you in this regard on 2 June and 25 June 2023. I can only assume you have not received my emails so am now publishing this as an Open Letter on Shared Ownership Resources, and sending a copy by post).

The report makes a total of 18 recommendations addressed to the Government, Homes England, the Greater London Authority, the Regulator of Social Housing, the Law Commission, the Competition and Markets Authority, the Advertising Standards Authority, the Committees of Advertising Practice and HMRC. The 18 recommendations are summarised in the Executive Summary. The full report can be downloaded from the Shared Ownership Resources website here.

I would like to draw your attention to the following recommendation in particular: 

HMRC should update existing guidance on sub-relief of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on simultaneous sale and staircasing transactions as soon as possible, and publish widely a clear position on this matter outlining options for those who have overpaid as a consequence of incorrect advice. HMRC should consider extending the one-year deadline in such cases.

Incorrect professional advice from on Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on simultaneous sale and staircasing transactions can have a material impact on shared owners financially, potentially leaving many vulnerable households out of pocket. Clearly this is an unsatisfactory situation and more so given the status of shared ownership as social housing allocated to households who lack the financial means to purchase on the open market.

I would be happy to meet with you to discuss this matter, and look forward to your response.

One of the aims of the Shared Ownership Resources platform is to provide greater transparency on complex issues to assist first-time buyers and shared owners in making informed decisions. I will therefore publish your response as and when it is received.

Kind regards,

Sue Phillips

Founder, Shared Ownership Resources

The Shared Ownership Resources project was established in 2021 to champion the interests of shared owners and households considering shared ownership. It publishes case studies, collaborates with housing, legal and financial experts to offer specialist information and advice; and campaigns for improved transparency and better outcomes and against mis-selling and other poor practices in the sector.

Featured Image: Image: redgreystock, Freepik

Update 8 February 2024

HMRC response: “Your letter of 28 July has been forwarded to me to respond to. I apologise for the lengthy delay in sending this to you. Thank you for bringing the report to our attention and particularly the recommendation relating to our SDLT guidance on simultaneous sale and staircasing transactions. I can confirm that this guidance on both the pages and the SDLT manual is currently being reviewed and further examples will be included in the manual to explain more clearly how any SDLT is calculated in respect of the scenario(s) you mention.”

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