An industry-first Stamp Duty calculator that indemnifies conveyancers and in-house agency solicitors against giving inaccurate SDLT figures to property buyers has launched.
Called the SDLT Compass its creators say it is designed to protect firms from costly errors which can be investigated by HMRC up to four years down the line.
The company behind the service claims conveyancers and solicitors are being hit by a rising number of claims from buyers who receive significantly higher SDLT bills following a purchase then they were originally told they would, or are chased for under-payment.
Consequently, half of all insurance claims within the sector now involve either residential or commercial SDLT-based cases.
This, Compass says, is behind a 20-30% rise in PI insurance costs for conveyancers and solicitors dealing with property purchases, and that £2 billion is also overpaid to HMRC every year in SDLT.
The calculator provides the correct stamp duty bill which, HMRC says, is more accurate than its own but relatively simple ‘guideline’ calculator.
If a transaction is overly complicated, then it will be referred to an SDLT specialist to sort out.
This includes issues such as Multiple Dwellings Relief, mixed-use purchases and acquisitions of land for development.
There are now 49 different reliefs, many of which are little known, making it hard for property professionals to calculate the correct rate of SDLT.
Chris Ward, MD of Compass, says: “Our service will help ensure property purchasers pay the correct amount of SDLT utilising all available reliefs whilst taking full PI responsibly and at the same time ensuring CQS standards are fully complied with by the user firm.”
Read more about SDLT complications.