Stamp Duty: getting an opinion about a payment or penalty

Find out from HMRC how much Stamp Duty, penalties or interest you need to pay on transfers of land or shares.


When you submit land or share transfer documents to HMRC to be stamped, you must also send the correct amount of Stamp Duty payment and any late payment penalties or interest that may be due.

If you’re unsure of how much to pay or of whether you can claim Stamp Duty relief or an exemption, you can ask HMRC to clarify matters for you. This is called requesting an ‘informal opinion’.

What HMRC can tell you

If you request an informal opinion about the amount of Stamp Duty in relation to your transfer of shares or land, HMRC can tell you, for example:

  • how much Stamp Duty is chargeable on a specific transfer
  • whether any penalties are due in relation to the transfer
  • how much interest is due in cases of late payment of Stamp Duty
  • whether you can apply for Stamp Duty relief
  • whether your transfer is exempt from Stamp Duty

There may be other questions that you want HMRC to answer relating to the Stamp Duty that applies to your transfer of shares or land. The transfer doesn’t have to have taken place for you to request an informal opinion about it.

How to request an informal opinion

To request an informal opinion in writing, send a letter to Birmingham Stamp Office stating clearly what you want HMRC to give its view on, quoting any reference that you have. Mark your letter ‘Stamp Duty’.

To help HMRC to deal with your request as quickly as possible, include photocopies of any relevant documents, such as stock transfer forms or documents connected with the sale or lease of land.

Receiving a response

If the informal opinion relates to the amount you must pay

Send the transfer document and the payment indicated in the informal opinion to HMRC if the transfer has already taken place (ie the transfer document has already been executed).

If the transfer hasn’t taken place yet, ie there’s no executed document, you don’t need to do anything until the transfer takes place. At that point you should send HMRC both the transfer document and the payment indicated in the informal opinion.

If the informal opinion relates to Stamp Duty relief or exemption

If the informal opinion that you receive from HMRC says that you can claim relief, send the original transfer document to HMRC so that it can be stamped.

If the informal tells you that the transfer is exempt from Stamp Duty, you don’t need to send the transfer document or any payment to HMRC. In this case, the document doesn’t need to be stamped.

If you can’t claim relief and your transfer isn’t exempt from Stamp Duty, you must send your documents and accompanying Stamp Duty payment to the Birmingham Stamp Office.

If you disagree with HMRC

Most queries about Stamp Duty are resolved by an informal opinion.

However, if you have strong grounds for disagreeing with HMRC’s informal opinion, you can request that your query is reconsidered. In this case, HMRC will issue a formal written opinion.

HMRC will only issue a formal opinion in rare cases of ongoing disagreement. You must make sure that you have solid reasons for disagreeing with the informal opinion before requesting a formal one.

To request a formal opinion, write to HMRC, explaining why you disagree. Your request must be accompanied by any relevant documents.

If you want to discuss your concerns with HMRC before requesting a formal opinion, contact the Stamp Taxes Helpline.

Published 12 July 2014