Thursday, 12 November 2015

UK residential landlords – significant tax changes may lie ahead

The Government has passed legislation which will increase UK tax bills for most individuals (whether UK resident for tax purposes or not) owning UK residential let property, where the property has been part financed through mortgage debt.  The changes take effect from 6 April 2017.  Those with high gearing and significant interest payments will be particularly affected.

The changes come on top of an alteration to wear and tear allowance for landlords of furnished residential lets, coming into effect in April 2016, but in this blog, I focus on residential landlords with mortgages.

The current position

At the moment, if an individual takes out a loan to purchase UK residential property for letting, broadly he can deduct all the interest he pays to service the loan from the gross rental income.  There is no upper limit on the amount of interest that can be deducted but the loan must be incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the rental business.  UK Income Tax is paid on the net rental income only. 

The rules from 6 April 2017

Under the new rules, interest payments on mortgages and other financing costs cannot be deducted from the gross rental income.  Income Tax will be paid on the gross rental income (assuming there are no other allowable expenses to be deducted, of course).  Once the tax has been ascertained, a new relief – a tax deduction – will be allowed.  The amount of the tax deduction will be basic rate relief (currently 20%) calculated with reference to the total interest payments and financing costs that tax year – at least, this will be the position from April 2020 when the new rules are fully phased in.  In tax year 2017/2018, the new rules will apply to 25% of the interest payments, then 50% in 2018/2019 and 75% in 2019/2020, before applying to all interest payments in tax year 2020/2021.

The tax deduction operates as a tax credit, therefore, but it results in a much less generous tax treatment, as this basic example illustrates:

Assume a higher rate individual taxpayer owns a number of rental properties, in total generating £100,000 of rental income per annum.  He pays £60,000 of mortgage interest per annum.

Current position
New rules (tax year 2020/2021)
Rental income
             Mortgage interest
(not deductible)
Net profit
Tax @ 40%
20% mortgage interest tax deduction
Income Tax payable on rental income


How will this affect you or your clients?

The changes affect individuals, trusts and partnerships (but not corporates, or corporates in partnership with an individual, unless the corporate is acting as a nominee for an individual or a trustee).  The extent to which these landlords will be affected will depend upon factors such as their other taxable income and the rate at which they pay UK tax (basic, higher or additional rate), the extent to which the property is geared and the interest rate applicable to the loan.

Landlords will be concerned to understand whether the tax changes erode their net profit to such an extent that the letting is no longer profitable.  Landlords may wish to take the last two or three years’ letting accounts and their UK tax returns and re-run the figures using the new rules. 
For planning ideas on how to deal with this change, see the full version of this article on Fladgate's website: