Exclusive findings from Cornerstone Tax, the leading property tax specialist in the UK, have shed light on HMRC’s failure to adhere to their own timeline for processing stamp duty refund requests.
Despite HMRC’s claim to handle refund cases within a six-week period, the reality has proven to be quite different. The proportion of cases exceeding this timeframe has surged, with only 19% being within the target period in 2021, compared to a staggering 36% in 2022.
According to Cornerstone, the average refund secured for their clients stands at a staggering £27,000, meaning these delays could be leaving homeowners in a perilous position amidst the ongoing cost of living crisis.
Highlighting the extent of the issue in terms of HMRC overcharging on stamp duty payments,Cornerstone has successfully reclaimed over £30,000,000 in overpaid stamp duty fees over the past three years alone through commonly overlooked stamp duty reliefs linked to Multiple Dwellings Relief, Uninhabitable Status and Pensions.
This alarming trend points to a concerning pattern of misconduct, with HMRC seemingly neglecting the rights of unknowing British taxpayers. HMRC’s response to this issue has been disappointingly passive, as they continue to use blanket statements discouraging individuals from investigating their eligibility for a refund. Meanwhile, those rightfully entitled to a refund are now subjected to double the waiting time for reimbursement.
Adding to the growing concern, recent revelations have shown that thousands of HMRC staff members are routinely failing to go into office, even for just one day a week, resulting in an alarming decline in customer service quality. Former Cabinet Office minister Jacob Rees-Mogg expressed his disappointment, stating that HMRC, which once had a reasonable reputation, is now failing taxpayers due to the lack of dedication from its staff. Furthermore, the Public Accounts Committee, a spending watchdog, declared in January that customer service standards at HMRC have plummeted to “unacceptable” levels.
Cornerstone Tax said, “By conducting a thorough analysis, seeking professional advice, and understanding the applicable regulations, you can minimise the risk of overpaying SDLT. However, if an overpayment does occur, initiating a review promptly allows you to rectify the situation, gather evidence, and pursue appropriate actions to claim a refund or make adjustments as required.
“This is a “state of fear”, a climate of intimidation and threats that has no place in British life, with its celebrated history of freedom of speech and association, and certainly has no place whatsoever in the tax profession or the administration of taxes in this country. The central democratic principle of the rule of law is that it be applied equally to all. We do not feel that this is reflected in these practices and circumstances.”