Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) Form – What The Hell Is This?

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) Form

When I received my initial quote from my conveyancing solicitor, they offered me plenty of extra optional services.

Being naïve, I declined most of them because obviously I want their bill to a minimum. However, I did make an exception for the “no competition, no fee” insurance, which seemed like a no-brainer.

Among the inflated list of extra services, there was an option for completing a form, the Stamp Duty Tax form (SDLT). The completion of this form is mandatory for anyone that buys property or land over a certain price in England and Northern Ireland, and they charge a handsome £59.99 to do it on my behalf.

Of course, I thought to myself, “What the hell? These fools want £60 to fill in a flipping form? I can do that for nothing, how tricky can this form be to man-handle? SEND IT OVER!”

The form even comes with guidelines, helping me along with every box. So I requested that they shove their upsell and send me the form for me to complete.

Yeah, I fucked up! The allusive SDLT form is no joke.

What is a Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) form?

SDLT is a tax on transactions, not documents. When you buy a property or land, you must fill in a Land Transaction Return (SDLT1) and send it to HMRC. Your conveyancer/solicitor will normally complete the return for you as part of handling the transaction. But legally, you are responsible for the information submitted.

Once the return has been processed and the appropriate amount of tax has been paid, a ‘Land Transaction Return Certificate’ (SDLT5) is issued (this replaces the old impressed stamp.) You’ll need this certificate for the Land Registries in UK and Northern Ireland, or for the Registrars of Scotland when applying for registration of title or documents.

More information available on the GOV website

There are also supplementary forms (SDLT2,3, 4). They may not apply to you:

  • SDLT 2 – Where there are two or more sellers and or/two buyers.
  • SDLT 3 – Where land is involved and more space than that provided on the SDLT 1 is needed.
  • SDLT 4 – For complex commercial transactions and leases.

Your solicitor should guide you accordingly, and inform you which ones apply to you.

So, it turns out that the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) form IS COMPLICATED AS HELL!

I received the form today… Holy, fuck me sideways! Now that’s a pig’s ear of a form!

Even with the guidelines, it was like rocket science (at least for me).

I genuinely didn’t understand half the questions; I swear they intentionally made it as difficult as possible. In fact, I’m convinced the Government has a deal going on with all conveyancing solicitors where they get a cut of the charges for filling in that ghastly form just for making it so difficult.

Inevitably, I had to go back to my solicitor with my tail between my legs. “CHARGE ME, CHARGE ME WHATEVER YOU NEED TO! JUST TAKE THIS SHIT AWAY FROM ME AND COMPLETE IT!”


But lesson learned.

I’m not entirely sure if ALL solicitors charge extra for completing the form or whether some include it as part of their service, either way, I’ll never question any additional fees associated with that form from hell.

My advice to anyone that is in a similar position and has the option of completing it, decline the offer immediately, especially if you’re a property amateur like myself.

But hey, feel free to give it a spin, by all means. The worst case scenario is that you delay the transaction and lose the sale altogether :)

Update / question: It’s now 2020, does anyone know if the SDLT form has changed (i.e. become easier to complete) since this blog post was originally written in 2008?

19 Join the Conversation...

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Catti 31st October, 2008 @ 12:08

Trust me - Solicitors don't like them either - they take far too long which is why some firms charge extra to do that work!

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Bear 8th January, 2009 @ 10:08

All i'll say is lesson well learned.

I'm a secretary at a law firm and clients always think they know better than the Solicitors. I'm sure people think they pay us to do nothing! Most people pay their Estate Agents more than their conveyancing solicitors but they don't bi*ch about their estate agents for charging 1 or 2 % of the purchase price. Solicitors don't even get half of this in most cases. (obviously i mean without disbursements, searches, etc) their basic fee is usually pitiful.

Some clients also think their Solicitors 'sit' on things for a laugh! They call us up and say "what's going on? why is this taking so long, you can't be waiting for anything else now" and they don't believe you when you say you're waiting for a redemption figure, mortgage deed, searches...we seriously don't want you calling us every day so why on earth would we lie about things we're waiting for?

Let this be a lesson to all clients that think they know better. Let your Solicitor do his/her work.

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cheryl long 19th February, 2009 @ 22:49

count yourself lucky my solicitor charges £89.75 for filling the form out and because we're buying the property with a mortgage not cash we have no option to fill the form out ourselves. i'm in the wrong career.

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twisted_fool 6th July, 2009 @ 12:16

Maybe I'm just a genius or something because I found the form relatively easy to complete - I've no idea what the fuss is, or why it costs so much to complete - it took me 30 minutes and was the first time I'd completed such a form.
I only left this comment because you were so certain that noone can fill it in. My advice is, if you have any brains, DO IT YOURSELF! Solicitors are thieves - they only employ unqualified people to do most of the work anyway!

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D McLaughlin 24th January, 2010 @ 22:33

I am about to fill in this form as my solicitor wants £50 which I think is extortion. These solicitors fill them in all the time so it should be a breeze for them. If the forms were in plain english most people would have no problem. Solicitors will charge you for taking a breath, they are constantly looking at what they can bill you.

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Sara 2nd April, 2010 @ 16:34

It is not the easiest form to complete, but solicitors should all be up front if they are going to charge you to fill it in. I know of at least 1 that will add £50 plus VAT to your final bill without advising you it is not part of their quote. There are people who will help you to complete forms for less though and help you to save money. Most solicitors are straight and honest, but there's always going to be the odd one who will charge for what they can. Make sure you check and ask questions before you agree to their quote. Check the fees are inclusive of all standard forms, check if they are going to charge extra for dealing with your mortgage, check the SDLT is included.

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Mat 18th February, 2011 @ 14:18

Complete rubbish this article, the form couldn't be easier. Once you read through the notes and the guide that HMRC provides you with the whole thing is exceptionally easy. I have decided to save the £70 (!!!) our conveyancer wants to pay us on him filling it out, and it took me a mere 15 mins to tick the relevant boxes.

Don't scaremonger people like that, unless you are working for a conveyancer???

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Dr SAFI 29th October, 2011 @ 17:02

I think my solicitor has charged me a lot for an unsuccessfull case. how can I find that she has not charged mevextra and who to complain to?

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Andrew 18th April, 2012 @ 19:20

I recently completed this form having been quoted £90 for my solicitor to complete it. Yes it appeared complicated initially but with a little common sense and the guidance notes I was able to work my way through it. Having bought/sold a number of houses over recent years I have realised that solicitors and estate agents are totally over paid for the amount of work they actually do in the conveyencing process. You'd think they'd have the decency to wear a mask when they rob you!

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Mr Moore 26th July, 2012 @ 10:37

The SDLT1 form is not overly complicated and it is free from HMRC forms. Also an SDLT form guidence notes can be ordered free which has astep by step noddy guide for conveyancing people. It can be a bit difficult where the completion date goes, but this is normally in section 4 and the date will be entered by the conveyancer when know if you make it obvios to them. Where it asks on the DLT form as k for the form to be sent to the conveyancer direct because they will need it to send with another form to register the property in your name when it is sent to the Land Registry.

Conveyancing is not difficult or solicitors would do it them selves rather than employ office staff to do it, but other conveyancers or mortgage providers will not normally respond to you if you are not one or a soliciter (closed shop - could be against human rights)

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James Farrell 8th October, 2012 @ 10:17

I have today received information that a FORM SDLT 5 was filed giving a stated date of 23/02/2012 (assumed to be the date upon which Completion was alleged to have taken place). I know from Land Registry Records disclosed that the alleged sale and purchase could not have taken place on this date. Can an SDLT Form 5 be submitted in anticipation of a future sale even before exchange and subject to the need to remove restrictions registered by the beneficially owning company?

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Mr Gordon 17th July, 2014 @ 23:30

On the HMRC website, it actually states that that is a 10 minutes job to fill in a SDLT return form online! But, this measures must only apply for solicitors, as it is NOT possible to do such form online as an individual. Plus the solicitor has all the information at hand, and with the validation on the website, it is really just some minutes job to fill the form and to receive the SDLT5 certificate.

For an ordinary seller, I am not sure how you can get your hands onto the purchaser's information such as their NI number, driving license to fill the form! I believe these would be disclosed by the buyer's solicitor who would not actually response to you. (although I am not sure if it is my solicitor's duty to provide you such info)

In my case, my solicitor said she will charge me 125 pounds + VAT (20%) to fill out this damn form! As a first time inexperienced seller, and was already a month into the deal when being informed of this additional charge and I was told I would be breaking the law otherwise and the transaction cannot complete. I was determined to dig around.

But I was already discouraged when after battling 15 minutes with the HMRC system to figure out what to "click" to register a HMRC account and then to figure that as an individuals you are not able to do that online. I went on and requested for a paper form SDLT1 (although the site only suggests that you can apply for SDLT2 - 4).

I then started looked at the sample form online, and spent an hour examining the guidance. the SDLT1 is not that difficult as said above. And I was more convinced to not pay 2 pounds for each of those 71 questions including half of which would be left non-applicable anyway, and others ones are like "Title - MR", "Tax return reason - 34" by checking the guidance), but like said above, that comes also a few uncertain ones.

The real problem is, this system forces seller to take the risk where solicitor would enjoy the free online vertification, but an individual would have to complete and sent everything via post and face delays for any missing and incorrect information. In reality, do you see form form with several uncertain questions and missing information and you are selling a house for several hundreds thousand pounds, you would have enough in mind than to wait 3 days for a form to arrive, then 7 days for HMRC to process the form, and if lucky you may receive the certificate within 10 days or easily go into months before having the SDLT5 to send back to your solicitor.

My weighting to the pros and cons were obvious, it seemed I had to give in and pay the 150 pounds due to such ridiculous system. My view is that the system designed to be abused by solicitor to charge ridiculous rate to catch out those sellers who is purposely to be made conscience and physiologically insecure over all the convoluted terms and information, and also put under legal pressure to misspelt any incorrect information.

I really hope there would be some improvement to the system where authorities would formalise and monitor those solicitors with their hidden charges and unclear terms statement for the solicitor fees coverage. Because these additional charges on items which would have be unmanageable by any ordinary person should be classify as part of the legal solicitor's duty. I still appreciate that is it seller's liability but charges should have been explicitly said upfront. Any sudden additional cost is nothing but an act of dishonesty and, to some extend an act of crime. At last thing we need is more negative views our legal system.

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Tan 29th October, 2014 @ 12:56

To Mr Gordon in particular but as a general critique:

First of all, solicitors and their "hidden charges" and "unclear terms" is probably the least of your problems. If you can think of a more highly regulated profession than solicitors, please do tell me. Even the slightest disagreement in terms of service, or fees, often means that you need to open a complaint file, go through a process, possibly refer the matter to the Legal Ombudsman, not to mention in some cases consider whether the obligation to report the matter to your insurer has arisen, as well as worry about whether there is a question of professional ethics involved which may involve the SRA.

Most clients are decent people, but there are always awkward ones as in any industry. But across the board, notwithstanding that clients are generally far more clued up than they used to be, with a wealth of information and resources at their disposal, we are expected to assume they are idiots and spell everything out in huge detail, which most of the time they can't be bothered to read, yet are quick to complain later that they weren't aware of it.

Personally, I don't offer a "DIY" option in respect of an SDLT return. I do it (yes online) as part of the service. And I don't offer a low "headline" rate and then tack loads of other things on that are part of the normal transaction. The fact that I can do it online and quicker than filling out a paper return, only benefits the client, because it means registration can be applied for quicker.

In most walks of life, if you want the "express" service you pay more. It shouldn't matter to the client *how* I do what I do, as long as I do it, and if I'm doing it quicker without compromising on quality/accuracy, why should I be penalised, and not rewarded?

The article showed one thing - people are quite quick to dismiss fees as too high, yet the writer was forced to concede that completion of an SDLT form (which, believe me, is nowhere year the most complex document that solicitors have to deal with) was quite a difficult task. This is what you are really paying for - knowhow.

I remember calling a plumber to look at a leak under my sink. I was "quoted" something like £50 per half an hour. He arrived, did the job and 35 minutes later whilst leaving presented a bill for £100. When I asked why it was £100, he casually replied that it was £50 per half an hour or "part" of half an hour.

Not being the confrontational type I ended up paying it, but a quick calculation shows that £100 for 35 minutes' work is about £170 per hour.

Similarly I can pay £500-600 for a car service which takes a few hours, again, taking out the cost of any parts or oil or whatever, this could represent anything between £100-£150 per hour in labour costs.

Now whilst I entirely respect the skill, expertise and experience of a good, qualified plumber, or mechanic, at some point you have to stand up and ask, why do we accept these fees as "normal" yet balk at solicitors' hourly rates? A qualified solicitor will have gone through years of studying and training, often with great sacrifice to their financial position, social life, or family, and yet when it comes to enjoying the rewards of that investment in their future, they are not deemed worthy of it?

Buying or selling a house is usually the largest financial transaction that most people will enter into, yet far too many people seem to take the approach of seeking out the absolute lowest price, wanting to pay less for the conveyancing than they would for installing a boiler.

There was a period when this was at its worst, a few years ago, when a boom of online marketing and alternative business structures meant that cut-price conveyancing was putting the pressure on high street practices to lower fees. The trend I see now however, is that properly qualified people are increasing fees, because it's the only way that you can properly devote the resources needed to look after clients.

And as usual, clients are becoming clued up on this too, and many have begun to appreciate that you pay for quality, no doubt carrying with them the horror stories of their friends and family that went down the cheaper route.

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Ian Porter 22nd January, 2015 @ 19:24

Does anyone know if I have to complete a Stamp Duty Land Tax Return, if the purchase price is only £80k?

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jmw 18th February, 2015 @ 20:26

Yes, Ian Porter, I think you do have to complete the SDLT1 for properties above £40k market value.

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Vinay 20th August, 2015 @ 05:47

I am planning to submit my sdlt1 form for purchase of property myself. My solicitor is asking for £95 + Vat

The searches have only just been requested, so I guess I have some time on hand. Can someone suggest anything I could do upfront so to minimise the time impact it will have on my purchase? I have ordered the form from hmrc today. When is the right time to send this form and pay?

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John Evans 17th May, 2017 @ 13:12

I have got filling the form down to about twenty minutes now, I don't charge any extra for doing it, just part of the service to clients.

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Neil 3rd March, 2022 @ 12:21

I agree with the writer! I have been waiting for my SDLT1 form for over 6 weeks.I keep phoning"Haitch" M R C (and have to listenm to that silly girl nmispronouncing "H" while she tells me they are concerned about quality! then waiting 40 minutes to be told there is a 3 week wait for SADLT forms from an agent, and they will send me another one. Still not got it.

Ive given it to my solictorhe has the form on line. It should be easy for Joe public to do this form -It isnt even with the guide ..

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Jonathan 17th April, 2024 @ 21:24

My solicitor completed and filed the forms for my purchase on my behalf but incorrectly. I saw a news article that over 15k people had incorrectly paid SDLT in the previous year and it got me thinking.. (had i been one of these people). I had sent emails prior to filing the return to my solicitor explaining that I was exempt under sdlt rules, but they solicitor informed me that I was wrong and the tax was due. Now, because over 1 year has lapsed since purchase HMRC are refusing to look into the case.

I feel that it's my solicitors fault that this happened. If they could not advise correctly then how are they submitting the forms on my behalf, especially if it's actually the purchasers obligation. Obviously, the forms are too convoluted if a lawyer/solicitor cannot understand them even when given information from their client?!

Do I have a case here because it feels so wrong to have lost out to misinformation from a legal professional.

















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