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Agents say ‘distressed’ Simplify clients being chased twice for stamp duty

Payments to Simplify to settle their stamp duty bills are the latest casualty of the conveyancing giant's IT meltdown.

Nigel Lewis

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Agents have been in contact with The Neg to reveal that clients of theirs who bought homes using conveyancing services via the Simplify group are now being chased by HMRC for payment of Stamp Duty despite having already paid it.

One Midlands agent, who wishes to remain anonymous, says he’s had multiple clients on the phone last week in tears after receiving letters from HMRC demanding payment of the SDLT due on their purchase after completing ‘weeks ago’.

Property purchasers must notify HMRC and pay the relevant stamp duty within 14 days of the ‘effective date’ of a transaction, which is usually the completion date.

But the agents we have spoken to say that although the buyers have paid the money to Simplify – chiefly through Premier Property Layers but also DC Law and JS Law – these payments have not been reaching HMRC either at all or on time.

This development is the latest consequence of the criminal IT hack that Simplify says has been affecting its conveyancing operations for almost seven weeks now.

Simpify response

We put these concerns to Simplify, which says: “In the early stages of the incident there were some delays on payments and transactions as we found solutions to restore our systems safely and enable clients to move.

“The delay included some SDLT payments but there would be no need for clients to pay the SDLT twice.

“All money held by Simplify is in an entirely separate system, with multiple protections, that was unaffected by the incident, and so no payments were at risk.

“Many colleagues are continuing to work additional hours in order to work through any backlogs of activity on their cases.

“SDLT payments are now being processed as normal, but if any of our clients has received a query from HMRC regarding SDLT payment, they should contact us immediately and we will assist in clarifying the position as quickly as we can.”

But, although Simplify’s reassurances, the agents have told The Neg that many are unable to reach Simplify.

HMRC statement

An HMRC spokesperson told The Neg: “Where Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is unpaid, reminders are sent to the purchaser and their agent to let them know.

“Purchasers should initially liaise with their agent to see when payment will be made and contact HMRC to provide an update and any further information. HMRC will then liaise with the taxpayer on a case by case basis to ensure that the matter is resolved and, where relevant, will take into consideration the impact that an incident affecting their payment of SDLT will have had on them.”

December 20, 2021

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