Temporary emergency measures for dealing with the stamping of documents

HMRC Stamp Office has today announced temporary emergency measures for dealing with the stamping of documents for the duration of this emergency period.

Stamp duty is a tax on documents and requires documents to be physically submitted to HMRC Stamp Office for stamping. These documents are then embossed with an impressed stamp to denote that the correct amount of stamp duty has been paid. Only documents which bear the required stamps can be accepted by the company registrar as evidence of the change of legal ownership to enable them to update the share register and issue a new share certificate.

At the moment people don’t have direct access to their clients or to physical documents in their offices, similarly, HMRC is trying to allow as many staff as possible to work remotely.

To enable customers to continue to pay stamp duty, and to provide company secretaries and registrars with the necessary authority to record the change of ownership, HMRC has today issued guidance regarding the payment of stamp duty and the presentation of documents to HMRC.

In the current situation, all payments of stamp duty should be made electronically to HMRC. The stock transfer form and any supporting documents should then be submitted to HMRC via a designated electronic mailbox, for processing. Full details of the new procedure can be found on GOV.UK on the Completing a Stock Transfer Form and Paying Stamp Duty pages.

It should also be noted that although HMRC normally requires the original stock transfer, signed in ink, to be submitted for stamping, in the current circumstances they will accept e-signatures. All of the other information should be completed on the stock transfer form as usual.

Pauline Hudd, Tax Partner at Wilder Coe Ltd, said: “These are unprecedented times and we very much welcome the pragmatic solution which HMRC has offered to deal with an issue which had the potential to significantly impact transactions, including group re-organisations and strategic re-financing which is often time-critical.  

“Stamp duty is the oldest of the Revenue’s Taxes, first introduced in 1694, the stamping presses have been in continuous operation since that time, throughout many conflicts and times of national crisis, so this is an historic measure.

“I hope that all my friends and former colleagues at HMRC Stamp Office stay well and safe at this difficult time, and we thank you for all your efforts.”

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