The past weeks have been an uncertain time for those buying and selling property. Since lockdown restrictions were implemented in March, more than 450,000 people have been unable to make progress with their plans to move house.
Following the publication of updated regulations on 13 May 2020, some of the restrictions initially placed on the housing market have now been lifted. The Government’s step-by-step plan is based on the latest guidance and is designed to ensure the safety and protection of everyone involved in the process of buying or selling a home.
The Government recognise, however, that as a result of the restrictions placed on the housing market, some people have been unable to sell a previous main residence within the three-year window allowed in order to qualify for a refund of the 3% higher rates of SDLT.
In the vast majority of cases, the existing three-year window provides sufficient time for people in a wide variety of personal circumstances to sell a previous residence, and the three-year window for most taxpayers will not be changing.
But, in certain specific cases, an extension to the three-year window can now be granted by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs once a property is sold if an affected taxpayer was not able to make a sale within the three-year window due to exceptional circumstances outside their control.
Affected taxpayers must make a sale as soon as practicable once the exceptional impediment to sale ceases to apply, and this amendment applies to those whose refund window ended on or after 1 January 2020.
HMRC will set out operational guidance on the cases which will qualify for an extended refund window in due course. Taxpayers can write to HMRC setting out their individual circumstances and HMRC will make decisions to grant an extension on a case-by-case basis. HMRC will also closely monitor the number and type of applications for an extension, as a protection against cases of fraud and abuse.