Reports suggest that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is being inundated with queries about Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) – and is failing to reply to customers within an adequate timeframe.
According to research carried out by Telegraph Money, homebuyers are growing increasingly confused by Britain’s SDLT framework following important changes first introduced in April last year.
Since April 2016, those purchasing a ‘second home’ or additional property have been liable to pay an additional three per cent SDLT surcharge.
According to The Telegraph, the change has made “an already complicated regime even more difficult,” as evidenced by a sharp rise in queries being made to HMRC.
In the three months after the surcharge was introduced, HMRC’s customer service helpline reportedly received more than 5,000 enquiries about SDLT.
The number of queries has fallen in more recent times, but homebuyers are no less frustrated – with many claiming to have received “garbled and contradictory advice” from tax officials.
Telegraph Money’s research also suggests that frustrated homebuyers in the midst of stressful transactions are being forced to wait anywhere up to two months for HMRC to answer their queries.
The newspaper cites the example of a Mrs Jo De Serrano, a 45-year-old consultant who is currently in the middle of a messy divorce.
Mrs De Serrano and her husband have separated. However, as the couple have not yet officially divorced, she fears that she may still be liable to pay the three per cent SDLT surcharge when purchasing a new home for herself as, in HMRC’s view, the ‘married’ couple still jointly own the home they once shared together.
According to The Telegraph, Mrs De Serrano has called HMRC’s helpline twice and written to the tax authority to voice her concerns. Despite this, HMRC has responded to say it could be 40 days before she receives an answer to her dilemma.