Recent experiences with the HMRC Stamp Office suggest that it is struggling to keep up with the current volume of transactions following recent changes to the SDLT filing and payment window.

We have seen one case where a letter took over two weeks to even arrive on the desk of an HMRC officer. Whilst they then dealt with it within 30 days their response indicated that they had not been able to spend a sufficient amount of time in reading it in order to understand its contents.

In another case HMRC have advised that current response times are 40 working days, or 8 weeks. This is to deal with a straightforward relief claim of the type which would, in the past, have elicited a response in less than the standard 20 day response time.

We do not know whether the problem is an increase in the volume of transactions due to the introduction of the 14 day filing and payment window for SDLT on 1 March 2019, under resourcing at HMRC, or both.

The result is unbalance: a relief claim which must be filed within 30 days of a transaction, and a return subject to a 14 day filing window, are now likely sit on HMRC’s desks for 8 weeks before a response can be expected.

Links to our relevant guides:

Stamp duty: share for share exchanges

SDLT: amending returns