Have we overpaid stamp duty because the house has an annexe? | Money

Q I’ve received three letters from a company claiming to be specialists in reclaiming stamp duty advising us that we may have overpaid £6,208 in stamp duty when we bought our house because it has an annexe. They have offered to make a claim on our behalf on a no-win, no-fee basis (I’m not sure what the fee would be but assume it would be a percentage of the successful claim).

We purchased our house in September 2018 and it does indeed have a separate annexe, which has two units with a bedroom and a bathroom each (one also has a lounge) – the previous owners used this as accommodation for their sons and then more recently as a B&B.

I just wondered if this stamp duty claim was worth pursuing and what the potential pitfalls might be – I’m very much of the view: “If it seems to be good to be true it probably is.” However, having looked at the reviews on the company website and trustpilot.com, I do wonder if there might be something in this.

My main concern is that if we successfully make a claim but it is later found to be incorrect then we may have to repay the stamp duty – including the commission for the claims company plus potentially additional late payment charges.

A It is true that you may have paid too much stamp duty land tax (SDLT) because your house has an annexe. When the rules for higher rates of SDLT for additional properties were first introduced, properties with a self-contained annexe or so-called granny flat were treated as two “dwellings” and so were liable for the higher rates. However, the rules were updated in 2018 so that a property with a self-contained annexe is treated as a single dwelling, provided the main part of the house is worth at least two-thirds of the value of the whole property and the annexe is within the main property or in the grounds of the main property. So if those conditions apply to your property, it could be that whoever dealt with your conveyancing was unaware of the change in the rules and paid the higher rate of SDLT on your behalf. So you need to go back to your conveyancer and check what rate of SDLT you paid on the purchase. If it turns out that you did pay the higher rate of SDLT, I suggest that you get the conveyancer to resubmit your SDLT return with the correct amount of SDLT. Alternatively, you can claim a refund yourself using the HM Revenue & Customs online SDLT guidance on amending a return. You do not need to pay a chunk of any refund to an SDLT reclaim company.

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