The First Step to Solving a Problem, is Acknowledging There is One

June 7, 2023


We need to talk about the Elephant in the Room. Stamp Duty Land Tax.

If you’ve worked in conveyancing for any length of time, you probably have a very relaxed attitude towards SDLT. HMRC provide a calculator, and a detailed return form. The Slice system of calculation makes it a little more complex than the old Slab system to work out precisely what’s owed, but by and large it’s a straightforward calculation which needn’t take too much time or detain you at all.

Even the CQS updating their guidance in 2019 to include requirements for a fully documented audit trail of how and why you reached the figure you did on the SDLT return for each transaction is unlikely to have raised many eyebrows. Maybe a few more boxes to tick, another page in the client file. No worries. 

Here’s the thing though, even if you aren’t worrying about it, your clients may be, and they’ll be helped in that worry by any number of ‘claim farms’ looking for something to do now PPI is done and chasing people who may or may not have had an accident that wasn’t their fault in the last five years. 

SDLT Reclaims are the new hot topic, and whether or not you think your firm stands to be in any danger from a successful claim, you have to factor in everything else on the way to the end result:

  • Time – Fee Earners, secretaries and admin staff wasting time going back through archived files, pulling records and dealing with telephone, email and hard copy correspondence. How many conveyancers have time to spare?
  • Money – while your staff are dealing with claims on historical files which may or may not have merit, they’re not earning money opening and progressing new matters.
  • Client relationships – whether or not a claim comes to anything, it can often be difficult to salvage a relationship with your client, especially if a third party firm has got them anticipating a large payout coming their way.

The vast majority of these firms are no qualified in any way as legal or taxation experts, but they are experienced in selling the idea to people that there might be a pot of money waiting to be claimed, and in the current economic climate, that’s a sale that’s a lot easier. 

And that’s where Compass comes in. Not only does our advanced software accurately calculate SDLT on any type of transaction, and fulfil all your audit trail needs. It provides you with a cast iron defence against claims, spurious or otherwise, on historical SDLT payments. 

Sign up for one of our higher tiers of subscription, and you’ll benefit not only from the expertise of our software and advisers, but we’ll take the whole thing off your hands, submitting the SDLT return directly on the client’s behalf and ensuring there is absolutely no responsibility to be laid at your firm’s door for the calculation or submission of the SDLT1.

Since 2022 we have calculated, automatically, over £90m of stamp duty land tax. Of that, over £5.25m of mistakes, and overpaid tax, have been identified and averted. Our highest saving to date for a single matter has been £970k.

You don’t use a third party firm to order searches because searches are scary or difficult. You don’t use an online AML and verification app because these things are especially taxing. You do it because it’s quick, convenient and ensures that the job gets done. Why not outsource SDLT as well and make your life a little easier, in the now and in the future?

"If your solicitor isn’t using it already, it might be time to change solicitors. Get in touch today!"