Landlords warned over tax on Income from lettings & property investments

Buy-to-let Changes Are Coming — Landlords Beware

Landlords warned over tax on Income from lettings & property investmentsA warning and reminder to landlords: the Chancellor’s Summer budget back in July will hit buy-to-let investors’ profits once the changes kick in, so now is the time to start planning ahead. Not all landlords will be affected though; if their rental property is mortgage free or if they sell within the next 2 years these changes won’t affect them. However those landlords that are Higher and Additional taxpayers will notice their tax relief reduce by 2020. Also, investors near the tax threshold could find themselves in the next tax bracket, which could have a knock-on effect and increase their tax exposure.

So what are the proposed tax changes?

There are basically two:

  1. Firstly, the amount of tax relief landlords can claim on their mortgage interest will now be capped at basic rate and;
  2. Secondly, landlords will no longer be able to subtract their mortgage interest from their rental income before they calculate their taxable profit.

One in five landlords are expected to have to pay more tax because of these changes, however the new rules will not be phased in until between 2017 and 2021 according to the latest information.

What steps can landlords take?

There are several steps that investors can take to conserve as much profit as possible and to limit the amount of any extra tax payable. For example: Read more

George Osborne

How the Chancellor’s 2014 Autumn Statement affects YOU!

George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced his Autumn Statement on Wednesday (3 Dec 2014) in what could be seen as a mini budget. Here we focus on the key announcements, concentrating on those relating purely to taxation, as it is those which affect you, our customers, most directly.

1). First some good news: The UK is seeing the fastest growth out of all the G7 countries, and the number of people employed is at its highest point ever. This is good for all of us because it restores optimism in the UK economy, higher employment speaking for itself.

2). As we announced in a separate blog post, Stamp Duty (Land Tax) has been given a major shake-up and, for anyone buying a house for £935,000 or less, the amount of Stamp Duty which they’ll have to pay will be less, and sometimes very significant. See our separate blog post and infographic for more detail.

3). In the financial year 2015-16, the tax-free personal allowance (which is the amount you can earn before you start to pay any tax) will increase to 10,600 which is an increase of £600. So … more tax-free money in your pocket, which is good.

4). Economy flights will become cheaper for under 12s from 1 May 2015 and under 16s from 1 March 2016, because their tickets will become exempt from tax on those dates. So … a small concession, but another welcome one. Average 4-person families will save £26 for flights within Europe and £142 on flights to the U.S.

5). From 3 December 2014, spouses will be able to inherit their partner’s ISA benefits should their partner pass away. Currently this is not the case and the change will mean that, from 6 April 2015, the surviving spouse or civil partner will be able to Read more

Online banking may save you money!

Online banking can save you money on your accounting costsDo you have online banking? Sending us downloaded statement information straight from your online banking means we can more easily import the data into our system and check for expenses and income which might otherwise have been overlooked. It can also fill in the gaps where you are missing receipts or invoices. This simple service could therefore save both time and money! Most online banking platforms allow you to export this information, for example as a CSV file, and this format is perfect for our accounting system.

Don’t have online banking? No problem! We also have a new system where we can scan in your paper statements straight into our ‘Bankstream’ accounting platform, making analysis faster and easier.

Either way, ask us for further information or, better still, send us a sample download of a typical month’s bank data (or Read more

HMRC’s ‘Direct Recovery’ of owed tax – straight from your bank account!

Direct Recovery of tax from your bank accountPart of the Chancellor’s recent Budget included plans to recover tax owed to the Treasury direct from the debtor’s bank account — all done directly and without a Court Order being necessary. This has been criticised widely but HMRC says that only 17,000 people in the UK per year would fall into this potential scenario and that it would only occur for those owing more than £1,000 in unpaid tax or tax credits owed. Moreover they say that they would only target long-standing tax debts from those who had received a minimum of 4 payment demands and whose bank and savings accounts combined had a minimum total balance of £5,000 or more remaining after any tax bad been directly seized. Also the debtor involved will have been issued with a final warning period of 14 days, during which the funds concerned would be frozen, before any tax was directly withdrawn.

Meanwhile many, including the Treasury Committee, have raised concerns by stating that it is well-known that HMRC make mistakes including, for example, sometimes asking for the wrong amount of tax from people, issuing incorrect tax cards, or worse. Similar mistakes applied through the new ‘Direct Recovery’ of tax from bank and savings accounts could be seriously detrimental to people and Read more

(Time Sensitive): Tax Year End Changes for Pension Allowances

The start of the new Tax Year on 6 April 2014 – just 6½ weeks away at time of writing – will see two very important changes in relation to pensions allowances.

The first change will affect the ‘Annual Allowance’ (or ‘AA’) which is the annual limit on pension savings attracting tax relief. This limit will be reduced from £50k to £40k (having been as high as £255k back in 2010/11) and includes contributions made by anyone into your pension whether that’s you or your employer. Should your pension savings be greater than this amount then you will have to pay a tax charge and include such information on your Self Assessment tax return. A calculator is available to work out whether you have any unused annual allowance available, this being particularly useful because you are eligible to carry forwards any unused allowance if it exists from the 3 previous tax years. If present the unused allowance can be used to offset against any tax charge.

The second change will affect the ‘Lifetime Allowance‘ (or ‘LTA’) which is the amount payable from a private and/or work pension scheme (excludes State pension) before tax also becomes payable. Having already recently been cut from £1.8 million the LTA is currently set at £1.5 million but will be reduced to £1.25 million from 6 April 2014. The LTA is only applied to pension savings when you actually take your pension benefits, or at certain key events such as reaching the age of 75. Other examples of applicable key events are explained here. Read more

So are you one of the 6.6% who missed the tax return deadline?

Despite it being an all time record year for receipt, on-line, of ‘on time’ tax returns this year, of the 10.74 million tax returns which were due by 31 January 2013, about 708,740 were – or still are – late. That represents a shortfall of 6.6% and, at a starting penalty of £100 per late return, that’s quite a hefty total penalty. However, one could argue that an additional £71 million in the HMRC coffers in these troubled economic times is very welcome for the exchequer, even if it’s small change in the big scheme of things.

So did you miss the deadline? Here’s what you can expect in terms of additional penalties:

Late return penalties by HMRC

Remember: you still have to submit a tax return even if you do not owe any tax. Taxfile are Read more

It’s official: thousands are on the wrong tax code!

With the tax return deadline being only hours away (midnight 31 January 2014) there is still time to get professional help if you need it – particularly because HMRC  often get it wrong according to new research by UHY Hacker Young.

In just one example, HMRC sent a tax bill to a pensioner which demanded over £576k in tax! With an income of only £11k per annum this was clearly incorrect but what if it had been only hundreds of pounds wrong – would the pensioner have noticed and, if so, would he have been confident enough to question it with the might of HMRC?

According to the research, HMRC employees have been making ‘basic’ errors which have led to problems such as people being on the wrong tax code and consequently underpaying or overpaying tax. While underpaying it may sound attractive on the face of it, chances are the system will catch up and then a correction will need to be made later on, leaving the taxpayer with an unforeseen bill to pay – a real blow for cashflow.

While the UHY Hacker Young research cites an error rate in 2013 of 37% in the sample tested, HMRC are arguing that the research is wrong and that their PAYE coding notices are 99% accurate. Either way, when you consider that Read more

HMRC’s fight against tax avoidance is bearing fruit

HMRC has reported that it raised an extra £20.7 billion in additional revenue during the financial year 2012-13, a result of its continued push on tax compliance and anti-avoidance measures. That’s an increase of £2.1 billion on the preceding year and is actually £2 billion above its original target.

This information comes hot on the heals of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, about which we reported in early December. Following that Statement, the Treasury issued documents including a ‘Scorecard’ which measures the impact of the Chancellor’s actions in regard to revenue collections. Of the 59 items listed in the scorecard, 20 fell directly into the categories of “Avoidance, tax planning and fairness” or “Fraud, error and debt”. The measures are estimated to yield a further £1,515 million in 2014-15 and £8,900 million in total by close of play 2018-19. Read more

HMRC now has landlords in their sights

Residential property lettingsHMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs) has announced some new initiatives over the course of the last month and one of these is The Let Property campaign which is a campaign designed to recover undeclared tax from those receiving income from residential property lets. The idea is to encourage those landlords with under-declared income or gains (potentially including income tax, Capital Gains Tax and VAT) to contact them in order to make a full disclosure. By doing so they may well avoid the higher penalties which may be applied to them should HMRC discover the undeclared income/gains via other means. Don’t forget that they now have access to information shared across systems, including in relation to properties both at home and abroad, as well as being gained through their digital intelligence system ‘Connect’ which identifies links between individuals, entities and properties. So the message to landlords is loud and clear!

The campaign applies to landlords whether they have just a single property or a large portfolio of properties and encompasses lets to students, business workforces and the holiday market. Read more

IHT: Transfer of unused nil-rate band

The Pre-Budget 2007 Report published on Tuesday 9th October announced various changes, one of them referring to the inheritance tax (IHT).
Previously, married couples could transfer an unlimited sum to each other when one died without paying inheritance tax. But when the survivor died, their estate was then taxed at 40% on anything exceeding £300,000.
Couples can now transfer their allowances to each other. When the first person dies, they can transfer their allowance to the second person. When the survivor dies, their beneficiaries can add the two allowances together.
In other words, the change in IHT is concerned with ”the transfer of any unused nil rate band allowance on a person’s death to the estate of their surviving spouse or civil partner.”
It is important to remember that there is a ”permitted period”which is the time limit within which a claim must be made by the personal representative. This is two years from the death of the survivor spouse. If the claim is not be made within the time limit, than a claim may be made by any other person who could be liable to the inheritance tax.
By 2010, the combined tax-free allowance for couples will rise to £700,000.Experts emphasise the need to keep good records, especially where the spouse who dies first does not use the whole of their IHT allowance.
Although this is a great news for married couples or those in civil-partnerships these changes will not help unmarried or non-civil partnership couples, or siblings who share homes.
If you would like to know more details about the way IHT works, you can visit Taxfile’s accountants in South London.