Estate agents have been warned to watch out for dodgy stamp duty refunds ‘specialists’ who are preying on buyers, claiming to be able to win tax refunds for them.
Conveyancing platform Index West Midlands Property Information says its seen a rise in the number of ‘ambulance chaser’ firms offering to help home buyers after completion after suggesting they have been over charged stamp duty and therefore are eligible to claim a refunds.
“These firms are in my view predators who are capitalising on the buoyant property market triggered by the SDLT holiday period, and exploiting the improved knowledge of SDLT in its wake,” says its MD Kate Bould (main picture).
“Information about every commercial and residential property transaction is published and available on the Land Registry website, and being used by this new breed of companies as a source of potential work.”
She says these firms’ unsolicited approaches are “pretty much always too good to be true and homebuyers should be told to act with caution and check independently whether a refund is due”.
To date, there has been 49 releases of tax considerations relevant to stamp duty, and Bould believes conveyancers shouldn’t rely on the online SDLT calculator: “As well as the homebuyers, solicitors [and agent] are exposing themselves to risks if a property is mis-classified and the SDLT payable to HMRC miscalculated.
“Outsourcing SDLT checks and calculations to a registered SDLT specialist is a personal choice, but SDLT is complicated and sometimes reliefs are overlooked, so using an independent is strongly recommended.”