HMRC has warned recent homebuyers about a stamp duty refund scam that could leave them out of pocket.
According to the gov.uk website, buyers have been targeted by cold callers urging them to make speculative stamp duty refund claims.
The rogue tax repayment agents find the buyers through Land Registry records and promise them money back on ‘unknowingly overpaid’ stamp duty.
Many of the calls relate to ‘multiple dwelling relief’ refunds, with the claims often found to be incorrect.
Nicole Newbury of HMRC said: “We are seeing obviously spurious refund claims that are never going to succeed; but will lead to an unnecessary bill for the customer.
“So, we are warning new homeowners not to get caught out by tax repayment agents promising easy money on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Some property transactions qualify for stamp duty reliefs that reduce the amount of tax due. Common examples include reliefs to help first-time buyers onto the housing ladder, including for the purchase of shared ownership properties.
The cold calling agents focus on other reliefs, particularly multiple dwellings relief, which can apply when more than one property is purchased in a single or linked transactions.
Examples of recent claims seen by HMRC include an agent suggesting that a home, which has a bedroom with ensuite bathroom and a wardrobe, could be classed as two separate dwellings, with the addition of a microwave and a kettle.
HMRC says it sometimes queries these claims after the agent has taken their fee, leaving the homeowner out of pocket. Where incorrect refunds have been given, they must be repaid with interest, and sometimes penalties.
Anyone approached about a refund claim is advised to check with their conveyancer, read the information about stamp duty on gov.uk or call the HMRC helpline on 0300 2003 510.