Using HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) software to file Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) returns is simple, secure, efficient and convenient - and you can file online seven days a week at any time of day or night. You can start to file SDLT returns online once you have registered to use HMRC's Stamp Taxes Online service. In practice, most users are solicitors or legal conveyancers filing returns on behalf of clients.
This guide outlines the key features, dos and don'ts of using HMRC's Stamp Taxes Online service to file returns. It also highlights some differences in procedure if you've been used to filing paper returns.
Much of the information will also help you if you're using commercial software.
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If you use the HMRC Stamp Taxes Online service you must complete and file the SDLT return electronically.
HMRC will automatically reject a return if you complete it electronically then print it out and send it in by post, or if you print the form out and then complete it manually.
Before you can notify HMRC about a land transaction online you must obtain and record your client's authority on file. There's no special form for this and HMRC doesn't need a signature from the purchaser. You can get their authority in whatever way suits you best, for example by:
Once you have the purchaser's authority on record and know the effective date of the transaction you can submit the return online and pay any tax due.
When you file your SDLT return online you'll be given a Unique Transaction Reference Number (UTRN). You'll find this at the top right-hand corner of the electronic SDLT submission receipt which doubles up as the electronic SDLT5 certificate.
Make sure you keep a record of the UTRN for every transaction. This is important because HMRC Stamp Taxes can only recognise and trace an SDLT return and land transaction through its UTRN. They won't be able to trace it from the property address or from the customer's name and address.
You'll also need the UTRN for paying the SDLT, or if you have a query about the tax you've paid.
If you are dealing with a transaction that has a large number of properties or there are multiple vendors or purchasers you can still file your return online. The way you submit the return depends on the number of properties, vendors and purchasers.
The online system allows you to enter up to:
If there are multiple vendors and purchasers you can enter a total of 99 names. This can be all vendors or all purchasers or a mix of the two as long as the total number of entries is 99 or less.
For example, if your transaction involves 99 properties, 2 vendors and 97 purchasers you can file online. But if there are 98 purchasers and 2 vendors bringing the combined total to over 99 you can still file online but need to take additional action see next paragraph.
You don’t need to worry about counting the additional entries the system will tell you when you cannot add any more.
If your transaction includes more than 99 properties, or 99 vendors
and purchasers, you can file online in the same way. However, when the
online system tells you that you cannot add any more entries you'll
need to provide the additional details separately and send them to HMRC.
The way to do this is to complete a schedule containing all the details
relating to each additional property, vendor or purchaser that you were
unable to enter online and include the UTRN number.
Send your schedule quoting the UTRN to the Birmingham Stamp Office.
A few minutes after you file an SDLT return online you will receive an electronic submission receipt which is also the SDLT5 certificate - you won't have to wait for the certificate to be posted to you.
When you receive the certificate, print it out and post it to the Land Registry with your application for registration, only the first two purchasers names will be on the SDLT certificate. (Note that you can't send it online or by email.)
It's very important that you save a copy of the electronic SDLT certificate on your computer. HMRC won't send you a paper copy by post and the online certificate is automatically deleted from their system after 30 days.
If a land transaction involves the purchase of more than one property, you still only file one SDLT return. The system will produce one electronic certificate showing just the address of the first property. You will then need to provide details of the other property addresses by post when you send your electronic certificate to the Land Registry. You can do this by printing a PDF version of forms SDLT3 and SDLT4, which you use to provide details of all the other property addresses, from the 'View, print and store' section of the online SDLT return.
The HMRC system stores partially completed SDLT returns indefinitely, as long as you access them at least once in a 90-day period. This means you don't have to complete and file the return at a single session.
The HMRC system can also store completed returns indefinitely but they're automatically deleted if they haven't been accessed within 30 days. For this reason HMRC strongly recommends that you save copies of your returns on your own computer for reference and easy access.
It's best to pay any SDLT electronically. This method is quick, easy and secure and your payment is automatically linked to the SDLT return by the Unique Transaction Reference Number.
You're strongly advised not to pay by cheque. But if you do, please don't use or adapt a pre-printed payslip. Instead, you should make your cheque payable to 'HM Revenue & Customs only' and write the Unique Transaction Reference Number after this to ensure the payment is matched to the correct return.
If an SDLT payment isn't recognised and linked to the correct transaction on time, you may have to pay interest.