Note from the Society on how to set up the online facility for stamp duty land tax returns, just introduced

Online submission of SDLT returns went live on 26 August and, following a month-long pilot, the omens for its success appear promising.

The Society welcomes the implementation of the online service, despite the fact that the intended direct debit facility is not yet in place.

Isobel d’Inverno, convener of the Society’s Tax Law Committee, said: “I am very pleased that the new online service is finally up and running and that it appears to be working efficiently. We will be monitoring its progress to try to ensure that it meets the needs of the profession and will also keep our members fully informed of any changes.”

First register

A step-by-step guide on how to use the new system follows:

1. Online submission involves both preparation and submission of SDLT returns over the internet, and as the existing internet software (the online print and post software) will not be available for new returns after 30 September 2005, the Society recommends the use of the new online submission system if at all possible. Please note that paper returns, the CD-Rom and commercially supplied forms (with 2D barcodes) will continue to be available.

2. To use online submission, your firm must first register as an online user. Go to and click Register, choose to register as an agent, then on the next screen select Stamp Taxes Online. You will need to provide your firm’s partnership unique taxpayer reference (or self assessment unique taxpayer reference if you are a sole trader). You will be given a stamp taxes online reference number (STORN). A user ID and activation PIN will be sent to you within seven days. Once you have activated your registration, you can set up assistants who will each be given a user ID and must choose a password. Assistants can then log in at the link above and start preparing returns.

Added functions

3. Unlike the existing internet print and post service, online submission can be used for linked transactions, and for a maximum of 99 purchasers, vendors or pieces of land. In most cases the system calculates the SDLT, although for linked transactions you have to calculate the SDLT yourself. Similarly, the system does not calculate the net present value of leases, which has to be inserted.

4. The online submission software is more sophisticated than the print and post version, as it only asks you to complete those parts of the return which are relevant to your transaction, and also makes sure that all relevant details have been provided. There are extensive validation checks also, which ensure that the return once submitted will be accepted.

5. You do not need a return number (UTRN) to start off a return – the UTRN is generated only when the return has been submitted. You will need “blank payslips” which have no UTRN on them. Once the return has been submitted and you have received the UTRN, this must be written on the payslip and sent to Netherton with the payment. Payment can be made by cheque as before.

The client’s role

6. The client must approve the content of the return before it is submitted. You can either ask the client to approve all of the contents of the return, or alternatively all of the contents of the return apart from the effective date. A copy in return format can be sent to the client for signature. The declaration on this version is as follows:

“The information contained in this copy of the return is correct and complete to the best of my knowledge and belief. I authorise my agent to submit a return, containing this information, electronically on my behalf. If the information I have approved does not include the effective date, I also authorise my agent to enter the effective date in the return on my behalf.”

7. If the client is asked to approve all of the return except the effective date, the practitioner inserts the effective date before submitting the return. This means that you can prepare the return (apart from the effective date) in advance of settlement, arrange for the client to approve it, and then at settlement insert the effective date and submit the return.

8. On submission of the return you will receive a submission receipt, and you should keep a copy of this.

Special arrangements still good

9. We are working with HMRC to agree new procedures for the special arrangements for personal presentation in Edinburgh, and an announcement about these will be posted on the Society’s website as soon as possible.

10. The 16th day special urgency service remains in place.

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