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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 12092
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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, I entered into a house purchase 3 years ago and

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Dear Sir,
I entered into a house purchase 3 years ago and at the time I was advised I could avoid stamp duty . I have been contacted by HMRC that I may be liable to pay the stamp duty with interest although at the time, 2011, the scheme was legal. In fact the government is acknowledging that tax avoidance is still legal but not tax evasion . I do feel rather sore that I may now be liable to pay the duty even thougfh tax avoidance is still legal . What advice can you offer . ?
Thank you for your question.
What scheme was it?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

cornerstone international advisory service SDLT mitigation .

Yes, but what were the specific mechanics of avoidance? How did the scheme operate? Was it option based or trust based?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I am not sure whether it was option or trust based . It was organised through my solicitor and Cornerstone at the time of purchase . The scheme avoids Stamp Duty by means of an offshore scheme which is valid for 30 years . The scheme is offered my house for purchase at the current valuation if and when I decide to sell .

If the scheme was legal at the time, it's very unlikely that they will be entitled to ask you for the stamp duty.
HMRC are doing this with a number of schemes, including EBTs. Their approach seems to be to go to the individual and offer them a kind of "amnesty" in that if you pay them now, they won't take proceedimgs against you.
However, as you say, avoidance is legal until the government legislates otherwise, irrespective of what the press and politicians say. I can't advise you if the scheme you were involved with is legal or not as I don't know about it but if it was legal then the HMRC should not be writing to you in these terms.
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