Buy-to-let – the new rules are coming

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If you cast your mind back to the 2015 summer budget, you may remember the significant changes that will impact all landlords. The implementation date of these changes is drawing ever closer and it will eat into landlords’ profits and, in some cases, may wipe them out completely.

With the slashed tax relief and added stamp duty, you may feel that someone has got it in for buy-to-let landlords. The question is what can you do about it?

What does the loss of tax relief mean?

This is one of the biggest changes to buy-to-let and now means that people buying to let residential property will no longer be able to claim tax relief on their mortgage interest payments at their marginal rate of tax. Before the changes this meant that basic rate taxpayers would get 20% tax relief, but those at a higher rate would receive 40% or 45% in tax relief.

What’s changing?

The changes mean that the tax relief will be a flat rate of 20%. Basic rate taxpayers, in most cases, will not see any changes, but those on higher incomes will find themselves losing much more in mortgage interest payments.   Also, more landlords may find themselves unexpectedly moving up into the higher rate tax bracket because of the way the new rules work.

To provide some perspective, here’s an example:

A landlord with a £150,000 buy-to-let mortgage on a property worth £200,000, with a monthly rent of £800, would currently have a net profit after tax of around £2,160 a year. With the lower tax relief, the net after-tax profit would be reduced £960.

Overall, the higher the interest you pay, the more you will feel the changes.

However, the full impact of the new rules is not felt immediately, as these changes will be gradually phased in from 6 April 2017, with transitional rules in place until April 2020. During the transition, the amount of interest directly deductible from rents will reduce and the proportion deducted as a fixed 20% credit will increase. This means in the transitional period landlords will be able to claim:

Tax year Interest deductible from profits Interest at fixed basic rate credit
2017/18 75% 25%
2018/19 50% 50%
2019/20 25% 75%

Income tax on property gains!

New rules announced last year, designed to target non-resident companies and individuals from escaping UK tax on profits made from the sale of UK properties, could inadvertently impact UK landlords. The new rules seek to charge the profits on selling UK property to UK income tax rather than CGT when the ownership of the property is more in the nature of a trade than a fixed investment.

When the changes were announced, there was widespread concern that UK landlords could be affected.

HMRC have now addressed this by releasing a 64-page guidance document to help clarify how they will seek to operate the rules.  In the guidance, they state that the new rules will not apply to businesses which buy properties in order to generate rental income, even if these businesses also enjoy an uplift in market value of the property. So the average UK buy-to-let landlord should not be subject to income tax on the gains he makes when he sells properties which were acquired for letting.

Whilst this is good news, it is only HMRC guidance and not law. For those particularly concerned about this new legislation, the position can be clarified with HMRC under their non-statutory clearance application process.

The PM+M tax team will be hosting seminars in Blackburn, Burnley and Bury to provide answers and insights into what buy-to-let landlords can do to protect their position.

For more information or to book a place, please click the button below or call 01254 679131.

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