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Stamp Duty refund fraud

HMRC have noticed an increase in claims for Stamp Duty refunds that are incorrect

In fact, new homeowners are being warned about cold calls from rogue tax repayment agents advising them to make speculative Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) refund claims, which could leave them with large tax bills.

Claims are failing HMRC checks

The warning comes after a recent spate of Stamp Duty refund claims to HMRC failed to meet specific criteria.

The agents have been known to call new property owners after finding them through Land Registry records and property search websites, promising money back on ‘unknowingly overpaid’ Stamp Duty.

Recent analysis undertaken by HMRC suggests that up to a third of claims for ‘multiple dwelling relief’ refunds were incorrect.

Homeowners’ risk

HMRC raise enquiries on these claims, but sometimes this is after the agent has taken their fee, leaving the homeowner to pick up the difference. Incorrect refund claims must be repaid with interest, with some claimants facing potential penalties.

What to do if you are approached

Anyone approached about a Stamp Duty refund claim should check with their original conveyancer, take independent professional advice and check HMRC’s guidance by searching ‘Stamp Duty Land Tax’ on GOV.UK. You can also contact the HMRC helpline on 0300 2003 510.

Examples of recent claims

In a recent example, a letter from a rogue agent suggested a homeowner may have overpaid £60,000 worth of Stamp Duty. The agent claimed the home could be designated as two properties, despite it clearly being one. This is not an isolated example - other cases include:

  • a claim that a bedroom could be a separate dwelling and in line for claiming ‘multiple dwellings relief’ because it had an en-suite and a built-in wardrobe which could be a kitchen if you added a microwave and a kettle,
  • an individual who claimed their house was not wholly residential because a paddock behind the garden was used occasionally to keep a neighbour’s horse - the agent advised that they were due lower stamp duty rates because the presence of the paddock made the transaction a mix of residential and non-residential property, which would incur a lower Stamp Duty payment
  • a new owner of a six-bedroom house claimed it was not a wholly residential property because a room above a detached garage was used as an office

 

HMRC are watching

HMRC has nine months to enquire into a claim and would look to recover the full tax, with interest, and penalties charged where appropriate from those found to be incorrect.