Estate agent are to face a significant rise in the supervision fees they pay HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
From May 1 this year all estate agencies with a turnover of more than £5,000 must pay £300 a year to be registered for money laundering supervision, while those with a turnover under £5,000 must pay £180 a year.
The current annual fee is £130. HMRC says the rise is needed to fund more staff to track down agents who are not compliant with the UK’s money laundering regulations, and to increase the level of education and training.
“While we welcome the increased resources from HMRC to tackle the issues around anti-money laundering, we are somewhat surprised at the significant uplift in fees in the region of 250%, particularly at a time when the industry is beleaguered by additional legislation,” says Mark Hayward, Chief Executive, NAEA Propertymark.
“However, we look forward to seeing more enforcement activity as a result of the increase.”
The fee increases, which apply to all businesses required to register under money laundering regulations including estate agents, accountants and banks, are on top of several other charges levied by HMRC.
This includes a £40 fee per employee to check them for any relevant criminal convictions.
As well as the HMRC, the Home Office is currently conducting an aggressive campaign to remind agents to submit Suspicious Activity Reports via its ‘Flag it Up’ campaign. Of the nearly 500,000 SARs filed last year, most were provided by banks and only a small percentage offered up by estate agents.
For information about money laundering and your obligations, click here.