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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 25990
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I am about to purchase a new house and it will attract stamo

Customer Question

I am about to purchase a new house and it will attract stamo duty of about £27.000, i have been approached about a stamp duty avoidance scheme but i require some advice can you help?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 4 years ago.

Josh-2010 :

Thanks for your question. Please kindly RATE my answer when you are satisfied

Josh-2010 :

Who has approached you please and how did they obtain your name?

JACUSTOMER-k6gr0ivm- :

Cornerstone Tax

JACUSTOMER-k6gr0ivm- :

this is my accounatnts response

JACUSTOMER-k6gr0ivm- :

You have passed to us a copy of the Cornerstone Tax 'Serenity' scheme for our comment. Cornerstone International Advisory Services Ltd., a British Virgin Islands registered company, maintain that their scheme is not within DOTAS (a letter on HMRC letterhead would be useful). On a practical note it is perhaps easier to deal with a UK registered company should any issues arise. It is interesting that the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) urged solicitors to think twice before becoming involved in SDLT avoidance schemes and schemes involving sub-sales are especially 'on the radar' of HMRC. Some solicitors, we understand (for their own protection) actually inform HMRC that a scheme is being used when they submit returns. Certain schemes that are marketed imply that insurance cover is provided but not only does this incur a premium cost but the cover is sometimes limited to fees only and not the tax (plus potentially heavy penalties and of course interest).

The government have made no secret of their intention to target SDLT schemes, particularly, but not restricted to those involving sub-sales and we can only re-iterate Mr Sandys' advice (and we are not legal experts) that you evaluate the risk and proceed accordingly.

For the avoidance of any doubt if you do proceed with the 'Serenity' scheme it is a matter twixt yourself and Cornerstone International Advisory Services Ltd. with no responsibility on the part of Crossley & Davis, its partners and employees.

Josh-2010 :

Thanks. The view of the legal industry is that these schemes no longer work. The government have introduced a general anti avoidance provision now which has rendered such schemes legally defunct. There were various schemes which did or at least it is though did work at the time some 1.5 years + ago before the introduction of the above and other anti avoidance measures but now such schemes are not believed to work. My firm along with the vast majority of other solicitors have stopped offering them as a consequence.

Josh-2010 :

If you are obtaining a mortgage the CML council who govern residential mortgages will not agree to deal with a borrower who is using an avoidance scheme. In addition the SRA (the solicitors regulator) has issued a warning note that it will consider firms dealing with such schemes to be a potential disciplinary issue.

JACUSTOMER-k6gr0ivm- :

ok thnak you

Josh-2010 :

If you are not obtaining a mortgage you may be able to use the scheme if you can find a solicitor that will act but they are believed to no longer work and HMRC are now very actively challenging such schemes (I speak form personal experience) and yuor risk is that you will be sent a demand for payment of the full amount of stamp duty by HMRC and that any money you pay to the company for the scheme will not be recoverable particularly if they are off shore leaving you potentially having to pay more than you otherwise would.

Josh-2010 :

They were nice while they lasted (though not for the treasury) but my professional advice to my clients is now that such schemes do not work. There is a useful further article here:

Josh-2010 :

http://citywire.co.uk/money/why-avoiding-stamp-duty-is-a-bad-idea/a665733

Josh-2010 :

If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with though please reply back to me though.