Fraudsters target homebuyers with SDLT scam

HMRC is warning anyone that has recently purchased a property to be wary of cold callers claiming they are owed a refund of stamp duty land tax. What do homeowners need to watch out for?

HMRC has long warned taxpayers about so-called “high volume” tax repayment companies. These are companies that have a very limited purpose - usually drawing people in with the promise of refunds of unclaimed allowances, e.g. for uniforms or the marriage allowance. While such firms may be legitimate, they tend to retain a sizeable portion of any refund as a fee. This is disproportionate to the work undertaken as such claims can be made directly by completing a simple form. However, some supposed refund firms are actually fraudsters with darker motives. HMRC is now warning about a recent spate of stamp duty land tax refund claims that have not met the criteria for a refund. The most recent approach appears to be where the scammer approaches a homeowner claiming that they could be eligible for multiple dwellings relief for extremely spurious reasons, e.g. because a bedroom has an en-suite bathroom or a built-in wardrobe which “could be used as a kitchen”. While these claims may simply be rejected outright, the worry is that in some cases the refund is initially processed, the scammer takes their “fee”, and the homeowner then receives a demand for repayment of the refund, with interest and possibly even penalties. Naturally, the scammer has then disappeared.

Anyone receiving such a letter should refer it to the professional that handled their conveyance to ensure nothing as been missed. They are also advised to contact HMRC on 0300 2003 510.