The Law Society of Scotland’s Tax Committee has had a preview of the forms to be used for LBTT returns, which are designed to be as user-friendly as possible, especially when completed online

As 2014 drew to a close, the work on the Revenue Scotland project continued at pace, including a demonstration of the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) online return form for representatives from the Law Society of Scotland just before Christmas.

The online form is designed to make the process of submitting an LBTT return as simple as possible. Some of the key characteristics of the form are set out below:

  • DYNAMIC: It is “shaped” as fields are completed and selected, so that choosing one tick box, or radio button, determines the fields that appear on subsequent sections.
  • EFFICIENT: Mandatory fields are clearly marked, and any errors and omissions are listed to be addressed at the point of attempting to submit the form.
  • PROVIDES ASSURANCE: Users instantly know their return has been received by Revenue Scotland, as a confirmation ID is provided straight away.
  • FLEXIBLE: The form does not need to be completed in order. It is possible to fill in those fields for which the values are known, then for the form to be saved and returned to at a later date for completion.
  • CONVENIENT: Amendments can be made up to 12 months after the form is submitted. Another useful feature is the ability for users to void a return if, for example, a transaction has changed substantially, or is no longer taking place.

The payment window for LBTT will be determined by the method of payment selected. Revenue Scotland is promoting online returns and an accompanying electronic payment as the most efficient route for making an LBTT return. But, as mentioned in our previous articles, a paper option will of course still be available. This must be accompanied by a cheque for the amount of LBTT due.

The paper form, while unable to benefit from the streamlined nature of the online version, is designed to be straightforward and user-friendly, both in layout and in keeping the number of fields to be completed to a minimum. The fields for both the online and paper forms were reviewed by the Society's Tax Committee, and Revenue Scotland is grateful for the input from the committee at that stage of development and during the recent demonstration.

Following the demonstration, Isobel d’Inverno, Convenor of the Law Society Tax Committee, said: “The LBTT online system is user friendly and intuitive, with a very modern look and feel, and the returns themselves are much shorter, and do not require so much of the non-tax related information which has to be included in SDLT returns.”

To drive forward the progress of the online system, a User Assurance Testing Workstream has been developed, which will bring together a cross-section of the profession to help develop scenarios and test scripts, and to test the system itself. We are confident that the feedback from the end-users testing the system will allow us to deliver a product that makes completing an online return the easiest option. Alongside the testing of the online return form will be the development and review of “non-legislative guidance”, which includes, for example, instructions on how to sign up to use the online system, and how to complete a tax return. These will be essential to a smooth launch of LBTT on 1 April.

In December, the commencement order was made to bring Revenue Scotland into existence on 1 January 2015. Several Scottish statutory instruments relating to LBTT were also made and laid in the Scottish Parliament. These make provision for a range of topics, including transitional provisions in respect of the introduction of LBTT, prescribing proportions for the purposes of acquisition and multiple dwellings relief and dealing with the circumstances in which an application may be made to Revenue Scotland to defer a payment of tax which is otherwise due. More information on the secondary legislation is available on the secondary legislation pages on the Revenue Scotland website:

Finally, a reminder that over the next few weeks we will be running a series of roadshow events which will be of interest for those involved in making an LBTT return. If you haven’t registered already, there is still time:

We look forward to seeing you.

The Author
Alan Martin is head of communications with Revenue Scotland 
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