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COVID-19 forces HMRC to temporarily change its stamp duty processes

26 March 2020. Published by Ben Roberts, Senior Associate

Yesterday (25th March) HMRC announced some "temporary" changes to its stamp duty processes, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This will be of interest where (1) stamping will be required in the near future, or (2) stamping has already been requested by post (but the forms have not yet been returned).

The latest guidance should be followed to avoid unnecessary delays in registering changes in share ownership of UK companies.

In summary:

  1. Stock transfer forms and other instruments of transfer should not be posted to HMRC for physical processing.

    Instead, they should be sent by email. (for example, by PDF). An electronic version of form SH03 can be emailed to HMRC to notify it of a company's purchase of its own shares. HMRC will accept e-signatures on forms or instruments while this measure is in in place. Those unable to get forms or instruments signed and dated should email HMRC.

    If forms or instruments have already been sent by post to the Stamp Office, they should be resubmitted electronically (providing details of any payments already made). Otherwise, the instruments will not be assessed or returned until the temporary measures end.

     

  2. Payment of stamp duty must be made electronically (e.g. by BACS or CHAPS) and details of the transaction must be sent to HMRC by email rather than by post.

Electronic payment of stamp duty is already best practice, but HMRC have now made it clear that payments by cheque will not be banked until the temporary measures end (so HMRC will not process the transaction even if it has received the details by email).

Anyone unable to make electronic payments should email HMRC. Copies of stock transfer forms or instruments of transfer submitted with transaction details must be electronic and, again, HMRC will accept e-signatures.

The HMRC email address for these purposes is stampdutymailbox@hmrc.gov.uk