Conveyancers shouldn't "police" stamp duty – Eddie Goldsmith

The Conveyancing Association (CA) have responded to the Treasury’s consultation on stamp duty changes, with Chairman Eddie Goldsmith calling for purchasers to be liable rather than Conveyancers expected to police the tax.

The consultation was published on 28th December 2015 with responses required by 1st February.

CA also pointed out a number of what it sees as unintended consequences such as what might happen when parents buy jointly with their children, whether separated couples might end up liable for the 3% charge, or whether companies or individuals owning or bulk buying 15 home so more should be exempt.

On the number of properties, CA said “that the decision to introduce such an exemption at 15 properties is ‘arbitrary with no scientific basis’. If such an arbitrary figure is going to be set, the CA has suggested a lower figure of 10 however stresses that the arbitrary nature of such a decision appears to be made without reason.”

Eddie Goldsmith, Chairman of the Conveyancing Association, said: “It’s clearly very important that the Association responds to this open consultation and it has been drafted following consultation with our member firms. The large number of potential issues and examples raised in the paper itself showed how difficult this increase on stamp duty for secondary purchasers will be to introduce, particularly in areas such as separated couples, purchasing first and selling the main residence at a later date, and the over-riding issue of who might be have exemption.

“In our response we have aimed to outline the unintended consequences in a number of areas, as well as stressing the fact that conveyancing firms should not be thought of as the police force in this area. The information, regarding a purchaser’s liability, has to come from the purchaser themselves and having answered the relevant questions and make a declaration, it is reasonable for the conveyancer involved to rely on that information when filling out the stamp duty form.

“The CA, and its members, are concerned across a number of levels. Firstly, in terms of the clarity provided but, secondly, because the final policy design will only be announced in the Budget on the 16th March. This leaves conveyancers, and indeed the entire market, with only a very small amount of time to implement these changes before the stamp duty increases are due to be introduced on the 1st April.

“One might therefore suggest that the Government seek to defer implementation of the final rules to allow all stakeholders, particularly conveyancers, to ensure they have the appropriate amount of time to comply with these new rules.”

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