Station Road, Sidcup

How can we help?

Please fill in this form and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Please enter your name
Please enter your email address
Please enter your telephone number
Please enter a question
Please let us know how you heard about us
Please enter the verification code

We’ll only use this information to handle your enquiry and we won’t share it with any third parties. For more details see our Privacy Policy

Stamp Duty Land Tax: Beginner's Guide

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a self-assessed tax. The onus is on the taxpayer to make the necessary land transaction return, calculate the tax and pay it across. This is a fundamental change. The old Stamp Duty regime taxed documents, so it was possible to delay paying the duty in many cases simply by not executing the document. Transactions not bearing stamps were not enforceable in the courts and in practice that meant that Stamp Duty was often not paid until the document had to be relied upon. One of the prime reasons for the introduction of SDLT was to prevent the use of these 'resting on contract' arrangements, which are no longer be possible.

Under self-assessment, failure to pay the duty chargeable is be subject to a tough regime of penalties. Self-assessment has been the Revenue's best friend since it was first introduced seven years ago. It turns the taxpayer into a tax inspector and tax calculator and makes them responsible for any error in the calculation or payment. It is primarily the purchaser of the asset concerned who will be responsible for paying the tax. The transaction must be reported and the tax paid within 30 days, with interest and penalties applying for transgressions of the deadline. The Inland Revenue operated a 'soft touch' approach in the early months of the tax, even to the extent of attempting to fix incomplete or incorrect returns, but this has now ceased.

SDLT applies to transactions involving any estate, interest or right over land, which includes transactions involving covenants and variations of leases.

There are exemptions for acquisitions of property in specified disadvantaged areas.

There are some interesting technicalities in SDLT. The definition of a 'chargeable interest' excludes licences but not leases, which makes the definition between the two even more important than it is has been in the past.

Options involving land are also caught by the SDLT rules, which also impact on some transactions between companies and 'related persons'. There are a number of complexities in the transitional arrangements which can also trap the unwary.

Current rates of SDLT for different types of transaction can be seen on the HM Revenue and Customs website.