When you buy or transfer land or property, or take on a lease, you usually need to notify HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). You do this by completing a Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) return, also known as a Land Transaction Return. The simplest and fastest method is to complete the return online, but you can complete a paper form instead if you need to. If any SDLT is due, you send the payment at the same time.
When you complete the return you'll receive a certificate (SDLT5), which you will need in order to register the property with the Land Registry or Registers of Scotland, or to request title documents. If you file online you’ll receive an electronic certificate that can be printed off.
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When you purchase or transfer land or property you need to complete a SDLT return and pay any tax due within 30 days of the ‘effective date’ of the transaction. Most people use a solicitor or legal conveyancer to act for them, but legally it's your responsibility to notify HMRC and pay any SDLT due.
The effective date is usually the date the transfer is completed, but can also be the date the contract is ‘substantially performed’ if this is before completion.
Substantial performance occurs when one of the following events takes place:
The quickest and easiest way to file your SDLT return is online. Most returns are filed this way and it usually takes about ten minutes. Built-in validation ensures that you only answer questions relevant to your transaction, which greatly reduces the chances of making a mistake.
When you file online you can print an electronic SDLT5 certificate, usually within a few minutes of submitting the return. You can then save a copy of the return and the certificate on your computer for future reference.
You can file online using the HMRC’s Stamp Taxes Online Service, or there’s a range of commercial software providers you can choose from depending on your needs.
If you prefer to file a paper return you complete an SDLT1 form. This is more time-consuming than filing online and has a number of disadvantages: