In Alastair Fergusson v HMRC [2022] TC08415, the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) upheld penalties and interest caused by the late filing of SDLT returns and subsequent payment. The taxpayer had attempted to file the paperwork for the property purchase himself and had not met the appropriate requirements and deadlines. He had no reasonable excuse for his filing failures.

  • Mr Ferguson purchased a property from his son on 11 December 2020.
  • The consideration paid for the property was below the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) Rates at the time. 
  • The acquisition led Mr Ferguson to own two properties and the new property was not a replacement for his main residence: the Residential property higher rate of 3% applied. 
  • Mr Ferguson did not use a solicitor for the purchase and he failed to file a land transaction return by the filing date.
  • HMRC raised a flat rate late filing penalty of £200.
  • Mr Ferguson failed to appeal the penalty within the required 30-day window.
  • HMRC raised an interest charge of £46.65 on the late paid SDLT.
  • Mr Ferguson appealed the late filing penalty and interest charge to the FTT.

The FTT dismissed the appeal as:

  • The appellant was unable to persuade the FTT that a late appeal against the penalties was appropriate:
    • While the appeal was received only five days late,
      • There was no explanation for the delay.
      • The appellant’s case was weak as any prejudice they suffered was as a result of their own delay.
  • If the FTT was wrong and a late appeal was appropriate, the penalty had been validly issued by HMRC and the taxpayer did not have a reasonable excuse for the late filing of the return. Ignorance of the law was not a reasonable excuse.
  • The FTT did not have jurisdiction to hear an appeal in respect of the interest charged as there were no legislative provisions to allow such an appeal.

Useful guides on this topic

SDLT: Residential property & dwellings
What is residential property for Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)? What tax rate applies?  What garden and grounds are subject to higher rates of SDLT?

SDLT: At a glance, Stamp Duty Land Tax, rates & allowances
What is Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)? What are the rates of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)?

SDLT: Residential property higher rates
What Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) rate applies for the purchase of a second home? What is the SDLT higher rate? Are there any reliefs from the SDLT higher rate?

How to appeal an HMRC decision
Disagree with an HMRC decision? How to appeal, what type of decision can you appeal and what are your different options when you disagree with HMRC? What are the key steps in making an appeal?

External links

Alastair Fergusson v HMRC [2022] TC08415

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