It should be noted that as of 1 March 2019 the time limit is being reduced from 30 days to 14 days. This will relate to all transactions where the 'effective date' (i.e. completion of the transfer or substantial performance) falls on or after 1 March.
HMRC claim that this will improve the efficiency of the SDLT system and that most returns are submitted within the 14 day period. It will certainly improve their cash flow!
It is common practice is residential transactions for a completion statement to sweep up funds for SDLT so solicitors can submit the return and payment upon completion. For this sector the alterations should not require any material change in practice.
For the commercial sector, particularly investment and development transactions, it is likely that practice will need to be altered. It is not uncommon for businesses to delay payments until the end of the 30 day period and/or notifying HMRC of details of any deferred or contingent consideration until a few weeks after completion.
With the reduced time period it would be advisable for solicitors and clients to have everything prepared on the completion date thereby bringing its practice in line with the residential sector.
Shortening the time limit to file the SDLT return and pay the tax due will not change liabilities for the purchaser, but it will improve the efficiency of the SDLT system. The majority of returns are already filed within 14 days of the transaction.