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Is the property stamp duty holiday open to fraud?

Lawyers around the UK have voiced their concerns about the government's recent property stamp duty holiday announcement which will see first-time buyers exempt from stamp duty on the purchase of homes up to a value of £250,000. As we covered in one of our earlier articles, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has laid out strict regulations regarding who can apply for exemption but there is even confusion and disappointment in these!

However, it is the fact that in order to apply for relief the buyer of a property will only need to tick a new box on a standard purchase form, with no supporting evidence required, which is surprising. It is this point which is concerning lawyers more than anything because ultimately HMRC has no way whatsoever of confirming whether the buyer has property interests elsewhere, acquired a property earlier in the UK or is abiding by any of the other regulations governing the exemption. Indeed a number of property advisers have come forward with accusations that the government is purely and simply window-dressing head of the election and the stamp duty exemption is nothing but a politically motivated vote winner.

Whether the move was politically motivated or not is irrelevant as it will, if policed correctly, have a massive impact upon the UK property market. However, concerns are growing that the headlines have been grabbed and there is very little in the way of support or substance behind the announcement.

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