Advisers have been warned to be "very careful" when recommending stamp duty land tax avoidance (SDLT) schemes as some unscrupulous vendors downplay the risks of an HMRC investigation into the activity.
SDLT is payable by the buyer on the purchase of land or property. It is also charged on grants of new leases of land and buildings, both on the capital sum paid by the purchaser and on the rental income.
Adrian Shipwright, a tax lawyer and director at consultancy firm Allington Eames, said if the taxman suspects SDLT avoidance schemes are operating outside its rules it can launch an inquiry up to four years after they have been set up, and not just in the first ten months as some scheme vendors suggest.
HMRC has said where it suspects fraud this window can be extended up to 21 years.
Shipwright told advisers at the Personal Finance Society conference last week: "Be very careful. HMRC thinks its rules - which are very wide - now catch everything."
Solicitors have been advised by the Law Society not to get involved in SDLT schemes, he said.
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