A reduction in the time limit to file a Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) return and pay any tax due after the acquisition of land or property in England is set to be introduced from 1 March 2019, shortening the time limit from the current 30 days after completion, to 14 days. This change, although not having any change on the SDLT liabilities of purchasers, is intended to improve the efficiency of the SDLT system.
SDLT is the tax payable on certain land transactions which most commonly include, but are not limited to, the purchase of a new lease or the transfer of a lease or the freehold of a property and which the value of the transaction is over a certain threshold. Under the current rules in England, SDLT must be paid and a land transaction return filed within 30 days of an “effective date” of a transaction. This will typically mean 30 days from the day that the parties complete the sale or transfer of the property. If the return and SDLT are not paid within the 30 day time limit, the purchaser will be liable for penalties and interest charged by HMRC.
In Autumn 2017 the Government confirmed that the time limit for filing land transaction returns and paying any SDLT would be reduced from 30 days to 14 days for transactions with an effective date on or after 1 March 2019. At the time of writing, these measures are currently only set to apply in England.
There are very specific instances when the 30 day time limit to pay and submit a return remains in place under the reforms, such as:
- when an uncertain event at completion subsequently becomes notifiable; or
- a future linked transaction completes; or
- a lease continuing after a deemed fixed term becomes chargeable;
and in most transactions, these circumstances will not apply.
Alongside the reduced time limits, the Government is intending to make improvements to the online submission system for SDLT returns, as a means by which to improve the process for purchasers and those submitting returns on their behalf. Further details of these improvements are awaited at the time of writing.
To make compliance as simple as possible, Fox Williams’ Real Estate team is on hand to oversee the process of filing online returns and administering payment of SDLT on behalf of our clients. We also advise clients of any SDLT reliefs for which they may qualify, such as in the case of first-time buyers.