Stamp Duty Land Tax avoidance schemes were heavily marketed following the introduction of SDLT in 2003 until around 2015. They have received plenty of HMRC attention, and some firms continue to market SDLT avoidance schemes to this day. 

There have been many changes to the SDLT legislation to combat these SDLT savings opportunities. HMRC is now routinely investigating users of Stamp Duty mitigation schemes, and some types of scheme have been defeated.

Double SDLT Charge

HMRC has claimed a double SDLT charge on some types of schemes, so that the taxpayer was at risk of paying double the amount that they were seeking to avoid in the first place. 

Following the notification of appeals in these cases to the tax tribunal, HMRC relented and withdrew the second SDLT charge in those cases that had been notified to the tribunal. 

Mis-sold a SDLT Savings Scheme? 

Some of these SDLT mitigation schemes were based on forged legal opinions. The Solicitors Regulation Authority has been actively pursuing solicitors who have undertaken the conveyancing for mitigation schemes, although not always successfully.

Patrick Cannon is advising clients who were sold aggressive SDLT savings schemes by unscrupulous tax scheme providers or their solicitors that such schemes might be attacked by HMRC in the years to come, and receive judicial and press scrutiny.

Patrick can help you to settle your SDLT avoidance scheme case with HMRC, and help defend you against unfair double charges. He can also act for you on claims for damages for negligent tax advice, and against the advisers and introducers involved.

Many SDLT avoidance scheme advisers claim that compensation is not available, because the client would otherwise have paid the SDLT and has therefore suffered no loss. But this is not true. In cases where HMRC is seeking charges on different steps in the scheme implementation, clients are at risk of suffering a double charge. 

In addition, most people will have incurred scheme fees of up to 50% (plus VAT) of the promised SDLT saving, plus additional costs of implementation over and above the usual conveyancing charges. 

They were usually misled and not told that HMRC could, and likely would, pursue them using discovery assessments – even after the 9 month SDLT enquiry window had closed – and that these amounts are in principle recoverable.

In some cases, counsels’ opinions were forged to suggest that counsel endorsed the scheme and/or the scheme provider fraudulently claimed that the scheme had HMRC “approval”. 

Victims of these schemes are facing huge tax bills as a result of the failure of the SDLT planning and in some cases face the loss of their business and/or their homes to settle their tax bill.

Have you been sold aggressive SDLT savings schemes? Get in touch with Patrick Cannon for advice and guidance.

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