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?
Disclaimer: I'm just a landlord blogger; I'm 100% not qualified to give legal or financial advice. I'm a doofus. Any information I share is my unqualified opinion, and should never be construed as professional legal or financial advice. You should definitely get advice from a qualified professional for any legal or financial matters. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.