Each time that there is a hike in SDLT rates buyers have the ‘option’ to apply the lower rates which were in force at the time when any uncompleted contract exchanged. This is a point that conveyancers do not always consider and so purchasers may have unwittingly paid too much SDLT. It is possible, however, to make a reclaim of the excess SDLT provided this is done within the strict time limit of one year and 14 days.
The main increase in SDLT rates took place on 4 December 2014. This introduced a banded approach to residential SDLT rates as follows:
These rates took over from the old rates which applied a single rate to the whole transaction as follows:
In October 2014 John exchanged contracts to buy an off-plan apartment in London for £2M. This transaction completed on 10 January 2019 and John was advised to pay SDLT at current SDLT rates (including the 3% surcharge). Therefore he paid £213,750. Under transitional rules this should have been £100,000 (at 5%). Therefore John has until 24 January 2020 to submit an amended return and reclaim £113,750.
How many ill advised clients are out there who have missed out on the opportunity to pay less SDLT afforded by the transitional rules? Given that there is only one year and 14 days available to amend the return many of these reclaim opportunities will be ‘dead’ but many will have imminent deadlines. Also, similar principles apply to the 3% surcharge which was introduced in 2016……….
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