Find out when and who must send a Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) return, penalties for late filing and how to amend a return.
SDLT no longer applies in Scotland. Instead you pay Land and Buildings Transaction Tax when you buy a property.
You must tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) about most UK land and property transactions on an SDLT return. This must be within 30 days of the ‘effective date’ of the transaction, even if you don’t owe any tax. The payment deadline is the same as for the return. You can pay any SDLT as soon as you’ve submitted your return.
The effective date
The effective date is usually the date the transfer is completed. But it can be the date the contract is ‘substantially performed’ if this is before completion. ‘Substantial performance’ is when one of the following happens:
- most of the buying price is paid - normally 90% and payment can be in cash or something else of economic value
- the buyer is entitled to possession of the property
- the first payment of rent is made
You’ll pay a fixed penalty if you file your return late.
Who must send a return
You must tell HMRC about land and property transactions on an SDLT return. Some land and property transactions are exempt from SDLT and don’t need to be put on an SDLT return. These include:
- transactions where no money or other payment changes hands
- property left to you in a will
- property transferred because of divorce or civil partnership dissolution
You must tell HMRC about all other land and property transactions on an SDLT return.
Most people use a solicitor or legal conveyancer to act for them, but it’s the buyer’s responsibility to tell HMRC and pay any SDLT you owe.
If you’re acting on the buyer’s behalf, you can submit your return online and pay any tax due once you:
- have their authority on record
- know the effective date of the transaction
If you need to send HMRC a paper return, for example, because you’re not represented by a solicitor or an agent, you must use the SDLT1 paper return form.
Send HMRC your return online
Log in to your online account to send your SDLT return to HMRC.
You can go back to a return you’ve already started.
Use the user ID and password you got when you registered for Stamp Taxes Online or when you set up your online account.
When you submit your return, you’ll get an SDLT5 certificate which will have a Unique Transaction Reference Number (UTRN). Print this and post it to the Land Registry with your application for registration.
You can use the HMRC free service or there’s a range of commercial software providers you can choose from.
If you use the HMRC Stamp Taxes Online service, you must fill in and file the SDLT return electronically. HMRC reject returns that are filled in electronically but printed and posted, or printed and filled in by hand.
Add extra details to an electronic SDLT certificate
The electronic SDLT5 certificate will show details of the first property address for any transaction. If there are multiple addresses, or more than one seller or buyer, from the ‘View, print and store’ section of the online SDLT return, print a PDF version of forms:
Send these to the Land Registry by post together with a copy of the electronic SDLT5.
Save a copy of the return and the certificate and keep a record of the UTRN for every transaction.
Transactions with large numbers of properties, sellers or buyers
If you’re dealing with a transaction that has a large number of properties or there are multiple sellers or buyers, you can still file your return online.
You can enter a maximum of 99 entries (any combination of buyers, sellers or properties). When the system tells you that you can’t add any more, give the additional details separately on a schedule with details relating to each additional property, seller or buyer - include the UTRN number. Send your schedule to the Stamp Duty Land Tax Office.
Penalties if you file or pay late
If you don’t file your SDLT return by the filing date, you’ll pay an automatic fixed penalty. The amount of the penalty depends on how late you file your return.
If you file it:
- within 3 months after the filing date the fixed penalty is £100
- more than 3 months after the filing date the fixed penalty is £200
If you don’t file your SDLT return within 12 months after the filing date you’ll pay a tax-based penalty as well as the fixed penalty. The tax-based penalty can be up to the full amount of the tax due on the return.
Appeal against a penalty
Appeal against a penalty if you couldn’t file your SDLT return by the deadline because of an unusual event that was either unforeseeable or beyond your control. HMRC will only accept that you had a reasonable excuse for not meeting the deadline if this event prevented you from either:
- filing the return yourself
- making arrangements for someone else to file it
You must pay any SDLT due within 30 days after the effective date of the transaction. If you pay the tax late, you’ll pay interest from the day after you should have paid it until the date when you actually pay it.
If you don’t pay the tax due on the transaction by the deadline, HMRC will send you a letter telling you about your underpayment. They send this to both the buyer and their agent and it tells you how much tax you’ve underpaid and how much interest you’ve been charged so far.
You should pay the tax and the interest as soon as possible.
HMRC uses the official rate of interest set by HM Treasury to work out how much interest you’ll have to pay. They’ll charge interest if:
- they haven’t received your payment of the tax due
- there’s no evidence to show beyond reasonable doubt that you sent your payment when you filed your SDLT return
You can’t appeal against a late payment interest charge
Interest charged on tax isn’t a penalty so you can’t appeal against it. It’s a charge to compensate HMRC for not having the money when they should have so you must pay it.
If you believe that the lateness is due to an HMRC action, write and explain why you think that HMRC’s actions caused the late payment. Include any supporting evidence with your letter.
If you don’t think you should pay interest, think you’ve been charged too much, or want a full interest breakdown, write to:
The Finance Team
Birmingham Stamp Office
City Centre House
30 Union Street
If you need to amend your return
How to amend your return within 12 months of the filing date
You’ve 12 months from the filing date to amend your return. The filing date is 30 days after the effective date of the transaction.
Amend by phone
Minor changes can be made by calling the Stamp Duty Land Tax helpline, these include:
- vendor details
- some typographical errors in the property address
- wrong title number
- effective date of the transaction – if the change doesn’t mean the return was received before the transaction was completed, if this applies you’ll need to:
- send HMRC a new SDLT1 return
- write to Stamp Duty Land Tax Office asking to cancel the wrong return
- correcting the purchase price or other tax details
When you call you must tell us:
- the UTRN for your transaction
- details of the changes you want us to make
If we can’t make the change, we’ll tell you what to do next.
If the change means you’ve paid too much tax, you can write to us for a refund. If you send us a refund claim, you must also send us the:
- contract for the land transaction
- instrument, if any, by which the transaction was effected – for example the transfer document or lease
If the change means you’ve not paid enough tax, you must pay us this amount right away.
Amend by post
Changes where you need to write to Stamp Duty Land Tax Office include:
- add a title number – send us a copy of the contract
- purchaser details – to either add or remove a purchaser, send us a copy of the contract
- substantial error in property address or to add a property – send us a copy of the contract
- cancel a duplicate return - tell us all of the right and wrong UTRNs
We’ll write back confirming the amendment and tell you if you need to take any further action.
Changes we can’t make
We can’t make any change which alters the underlying identity of the transaction. For example where the purchaser or property is completely wrong.
Call the Stamp Duty Land Tax Helpline for help with any further queries.
HMRC can open an enquiry into your amended return up to 9 months after you amended it. If you got a repayment but the amount you were repaid wasn’t due, you must pay it back.
Amend a return when HMRC open a formal enquiry
You can still amend your return after HMRC has started to make an enquiry but your amendment can’t take effect until after the enquiry is finished. If, at the end of the enquiry, HMRC find that your return is incorrect you’ll be told how to amend it. HMRC will take into account any amendment you’ve already asked for.
If you’ve sent a return in error or sent a duplicate return
Include the following information:
- the UTRN
- the reason(s) why they should disregard the return
- whether you’ve used the SDLT5 certificate to register the transaction
If you’ve filed an unnecessary or duplicate return and incurred a penalty charge that you want to dispute, appeal in writing. This must be within 30 days of the date on the penalty notice.
If you’ve made a mistake on your SDLT return that’s more than 12 months old
HMRC Stamp Taxes can amend a buyer’s name, but can’t make any amendments that change either the underlying identity of any buyer or the property details.
You can’t correct other mistakes on your SDLT return more than 12 months after the filing deadline. You may still be able to claim a refund if the mistake means you’ve paid too much SDLT.
To ask HMRC to amend a return older than 12 months write to Stamp Duty Land Tax Office explaining what the error is, how it arose and include a copy of your original return.
Claim a refund
How to claim a refund of the higher SDLT rates for additional properties
If you’ve paid the higher SDLT rates for additional properties on the purchase of a new main residence, and go on to sell your previous main residence within 3 years of paying the higher rates, a refund is available.
The refund is for the amount of SDLT paid above what would have been charged had the property not been an additional residential property.
A refund must be claimed within 3 months of the sale of the previous main residence or within 12 months of the filing date of the return, whichever comes later.
To claim a refund you can complete an online form.
Refunds in other circumstances
The deadline for claiming back tax you’ve overpaid is 4 years from the effective date of the transaction. This is usually the completion date. Claim the refund by writing to Stamp Duty Land Tax Office. Quote the UTRN and include a copy of the original SDLT return with your claim and:
- explain why you think you’ve overpaid
- say what parts of the SDLT return were wrong
- give revised figures and confirm the amount of refund due
- confirm who we should repay
Who we should repay
HMRC can only pay the refund to you, unless you write to give your permission to pay it to someone else, for example, your solicitor or agent. Any authority letter you send us must clearly tell us who we should repay. If you’re a solicitor or agent and you want us to pay any refund due to your client, you need to:
- write to Stamp Duty Land Tax Office to confirm this
- tell us where we should send the refund
- send us your client’s consent if we need to send it to you
When you need to send us additional documents when claiming a refund
You also need to send us further documents to support any refund you ask us to make where one, or both, of the following conditions apply. The original figures in the SDLT return:
- have already been amended
- are wrong, but a refund is still due after we make any further changes you need to make
If one, or both, of the conditions shown above apply, you’ll need to send us copies of the:
contract for the land transaction
instrument (if any) by which that transaction was effected – this is generally the relevant transfer document , the lease or similar document
If any of these documents don’t apply to your transaction you’ll need to tell us when you write to us.
If you’ve underpaid SDLT
If you’ve underpaid SDLT tell HMRC as soon as you realise. If you don’t, you may have to pay a penalty. You’ll normally have to pay interest on any SDLT you pay late.
Published: 15 February 2014
Updated: 8 May 2017
- This guidance has been updated to amend section 'If you made a mistake on your return' with section 'If you need to amend your return'. Section updated to include information on what action to take to amend a return and how to do it.
- Under the 'Claim a Refund Section' additional paragraphs added - 'Who we should repay' and 'When you need to send us additional documents when claiming a refund'.
- This has been updated to include information on how to claim a refund for the higher SDLT rates for additional properties.
- First published.