On 11 February 2019 HMRC and the Treasury together issued a consultation document in respect of a 1% SDLT surcharge for non-UK resident purchasers of residential land interests in England and Northern Ireland.
The proposal was first announced by the Prime Minister at the Conservative party conference in September 2018, and reconfirmed in the October 2018 Budget.
The consultation period will run until 6 May 2019 at which point the UK Government will consider the responses and decide whether to go ahead with the 1% surcharge on foreign buyers. The 1% surcharge is, therefore, not current law and does not yet apply.
For transactions with an effective date on or after 1 March 2019, there will be a reduction in the deadline for purchasers to file an SDLT return, and settle any SDLT liability arising. The deadline will reduce from 30 days to 14 days from the effective date of the transaction.
A derelict bungalow which had been acquired by a company for redevelopment was found not to be a dwelling subject to an additional 3% SDLT surcharge on the basis that it was not suitable for use as a dwelling at the time it was acquired.
A number of house buyers had entered into SDLT mitigation schemes, in each case advised by the same advisers. HMRC claimed to have raised SDLT assessments on them, on the basis that the SDLT mitigation scheme was ineffective, slightly before the expiry of the four year time-limit for making discovery assessments.