Are tax changes a relief for buy-to-let landlords?

Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on the sale of second properties is applied to gains over £12,000, the annual tax-free limit. CGT is applied at 18% if you are a basic rate taxpayer or 28% for higher or additional rate taxpayers. These taxes should remain the same, however there are changes coming in April 2020 which may change your plans for your second home(s).

Exemption period reduction

Currently if you have lived at the property at some point but not for all of the ownership (an ‘accidental’ landlord), then the past 18 months are currently considered to be automatically exempt. This is called Principal Private Residence (PPR) relief. However, from next April, this PPR final exemption period will be reduced to nine months instead. There will be no change for people who are disabled or selling to move to a care home. In these cases, the last 36 months will remain exempt.

Lettings relief removal

Currently there is a letting relief exemption of up to £40,000 (£80,000 for a couple) to those who let a property that had previously been their main home. However, it’s proposed that from next April, this relief will only apply to owners who share the home with the tenant(s) under the same roof.

If you are an ‘accidental’ landlord, this is important to note because this could mean an increased tax bill if you decide to sell after April 2020. Avoid making a knee jerk decision and contact a tax specialist discuss your options further. Of course, these changes will not affect landlords who have never lived in the property they rent out – standard CGT rules apply.

Tax relief on mortgage payments

Over the past few years, the amount of tax relief landlords could claim on mortgage interest payments has been steadily reducing. In this current financial year (2019/20), tax relief on mortgage payments has fallen to 25% of the amount of interest paid, and it will be zero in 2020/21.

To combat the loss of tax relief, an increasing number of landlords have been setting up limited businesses when investing in new rental properties as they will be subject to Corporation Tax (19%) rather than the standard tax bands (20%, 40% and 45%).

However this approach needs to be thought about very carefully. Landlords should consider the full range of taxes that will be incurred over the period of ownership – in some circumstances it will be better to continue to own the property individually rather than in a company.

For further advice on CGT or any other tax planning issues, contact Tim Woodgates at Moore Stephens on 01604 654254