We acknowledge that the tax legislation can be tricky to understand, and it can be difficult for a conveyancer to find what they’re looking for on a tax authority’s website. We are sure you will agree that it’s a little ironic that the explanation and guidance you’re reading is very vague and yet the explanation and guidance surrounding a similar unconnected issue you’re not looking for seems pretty certain.

To ensure your client pays the right amount of tax we provide you with what we call a query sheet. The query sheet includes the query being raised together with a detailed conclusion and the appropriate caveats. Each query sheet includes full reference to statute and the tax authority’s guidance manual if appropriate. The narrative of the query sheet is phrased in such a way that it can be forwarded directly to your client if you so wish. Queries can be raised at any point in the conveyancing process and our query sheets are generally provided to you within 48 hours of receiving the query. The majority of the work we do on these query sheets is fixed fee.

Our clients tell us that they often struggle to gather enough evidence to substantiate a claim such as Multiple Dwellings Relief or to substantiate an asserted status such as non-residential or mixed use. They tell us that they are not sure what is needed, what they need to record or where they should look in the tax legislation to understand the matter and inform their clients of their responsibilities when making such a claim or disclosing a particular status.

In answer to this issue we provide a claims and report writing service for conveyancers and their clients. Our reports and claims act as contemporaneous evidence that the entries made on the land transaction return are correct and that the right amount of tax is being paid-not too much and not too little. The claims and reports we write can be provided to the tax authority in the event of an enquiry and should evidence that your client has taken reasonable care in dealing with their tax affairs. Whilst our claims and reports can be requested at any time in the conveyancing process, we would generally recommend that they are not requested until exchange of contract is certain. Some of our claims and reports are fixed fee and some are so client specific that we would need to provide a quote before starting our work.

We have noticed an increase in professional negligence allegations against our conveyancing clients for historic land transactions mainly in relation to out of date Multiple Dwellings Relief claims. We are given to understand that our clients’ insurers are suggesting the allegations are accepted and settlement made.

We disagree with this view and would discourage any conveyancer from settling until they have spoken to us. You may not have been negligent and lots of the pre-action protocol claims we have seen are being encouraged by opportunistic claims companies that have no, or very little, experience or knowledge of tax law. A number of the allegations are spurious and rely heavily on scare tactics designed to exploit the conveyancer’s lack of understanding about how tax law should be read in order to encourage settlement.

There is no doubt that transaction taxes have become somewhat more complex over the last few years. This is being shown by the increase in enquiries we have seen surrounding the making of claims, the assertion of status, the 3% higher rates and the purchase of residential property by corporates.

We have had great success with winning a number of tax authority enquiries resulting in substantial savings for our conveyancing clients’ clients. It’s important that we are brought in at an early stage to ensure that the information being provided to the tax authority is accurate and truly representative of the position. It’s important that the enquiry is dealt with from a Chartered Tax Adviser’s perspective rather than from a conveyancer’s perspective as the views of both can provide for very different outcomes.

The increase in complexity of Stamp Duty Land Tax and the introduction of Land Transaction Tax in Wales certainly gives rise to many differing opinions on how a transaction should be taxed. This can occasionally lead to differences of opinion between advisers or claims for professional negligence that do eventually make their way to a courtroom setting.

We have acted as an independent expert on a number of occasions and are more than happy to convert our opinions into a CPR Part 35 compliant expert witness report as and when required.

It’s safe to say that a large number of our conveyancing clients have been approached by their clients a few months after closing the file telling them they have received letters from a number of claims companies. These letters assert that a refund of tax is due because the property their clients purchased incorporates an annexe, has an apartment above the garage or a cottage in the grounds, and so a claim for Mutiple Dwellings Relief should have been included on the tax return.

We see lots of these letters from an increasing number of companies some of which we agree and some we don’t. We are always happy to review a property purchase on behalf of a client and submit a retrospective claim if we are totally satisfied that the purchase warrants such a claim. Our fee is fixed and is likely to be far less than what any of those companies are quoting. We are always happy to wait until the refund is received by your client before raising the fee.

We are proud to say that we are the authors of the Conveyancers Practice – 2019 Update for The Law Society’s CQS training development centre. This can be found on The Law Society’s website.

In addition to this we offer tax training sessions at your own offices. These can range from a free lunch time update to a paid half day and full day presentation on topics of your choice. These sessions empower conveyancing teams to correctly identify problem tax areas and reduce the risk of future litigation by getting it right first time around.

Why Griffiths Allen?

Quick turnaround on standard queries

Training and support for SDLT and LTT

No monthly fee obligations

Qualified and experienced advisers