The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld five complaints made against CDP Tax and Wealth Ltd (trading as Fiducia).
The complaints covered Fiducia claims regarding Stamp Duty Land Tax savings. Text on Ficudia’s website stated “We do not promote nor advocate stamp duty avoidance schemes. Instead we seek to efficiently plan our clients’ property tax affairs by only utilising government approved statutory tax rules that are contained within the tax legislation, so that our clients only pay the tax intended by Parliament”.
Text accessed via the link “Stamp Duty Land Tax” stated “At Fiducia, we tailor our stamp duty land tax (SDLT) strategies to each individual property purchase and client, making sure that every regulation is fully catered for along the way”. Under the sub-heading “Our plans” text stated “Don’t require any input from your vendor, don’t require you to notify HMRC and reduce delays in the conveyancing process overall”.
Claims on the Stamp Duty Land Tax FAQ page stated “Can I be confident that there won’t be issues later on?”. A dropdown response stated, “The implementation of your tax planning will be carried by a number of SRA-regulated (Solicitors Regulation Authority) firms, and one of the cornerstones of their regulation is that the firms must act in your best interests at all times”.
In addition, an ad on the Washington Post website, seen 25 July 2017, stated “Save 60% On Stamp Duty … £350k Minimum Purchase Value”.
The ad watchdog found that Fiducia was not able to prove that their services did not promote tax avoidance, hence their claims that their services wouldn’t prompt a challenge from the HMRC were misleading.
The ads must not appear again in the form complained of. The ASA told Fiducia to ensure they held sufficient evidence for their claims and to disclose any relevant information in their advertising, such as the implications or risks of entering into a financial arrangement, including a challenge to a user’s tax arrangements by HMRC and the charges which might apply.
The ASA also told Fiducia not to imply they had been endorsed by the SRA.