Buy To Let Tax Changes For 2016 – What You Need To Know

Purchasing a House
to let sign outside London property

The rules on buy to let tax are changing from 1st April 2016. Here’s everything you need to know about the new buy to let tax and how it affects you as a landlord.

New tax for buy to let properties 

Right now landlords can claim the entire annual mortgage interest they pay against the income they get from a let property, paying tax on the difference. 2015’s Summer Budget and Autumn Statement saw the Chancellor ring the changes, and the new system will affect profitability of buy to let portfolios, even if you only own one let property.

  • From 1 April 2016, Stamp Duty Land Tax will increase 3% on buying UK residential properties to let

Here’s an illustration: A property costing £500,000 currently comes with 5% Stamp Duty (£25,000). From 1st April 2016 it rises to 8% (£40,000) on a property of the same value.

From 2017 the tax relief you can claim on financing costs like mortgage interest, loan interest on furnishing purchases, and the fees you pay for taking out and repaying mortgages, will steadily decrease.

  • When the new system has rolled out in its entirety, in 2020, standard rate taxpayer landlords will only be able to claim basic tax relief at 20%
  • Higher rate taxpayers will pay more tax, at 40%, and will only be allowed to deduct 20% of their mortgage interest payments

An example of how the tax relief changes may affect your BTL income

Here are two examples of how the changes might affect you:

  • Standard rate taxpayers – Say, for argument’s sake, your BTL property generates £10,000 a year rent, and you’ve paid £9000 mortgage interest over the year. In 2020 you’ll be taxed 20% of your income, £2000. You can deduct 20% of your £9,000 mortgage interest, £1800, leaving you with a tax bill of £200. In your case, things have remained the same as they are now.
  • Higher rate taxpayers – Taking the same scenario, with £10,000 rental income per year, by 2020 higher rate taxpayers will pay 40% tax on the £10,000 and will only be allowed to deduct 20% of the £9,000 mortgage interest, £1800. You’ll face a tax bill for £2,200 compared to £400 under the current system, and if you pay 45% tax you’ll owe £2,700

Wear and tear matters, too. There’s no more automatic allowance for wear and tear. From April this year you will only be able to claim for wear and tear on replacing furnishings when calculating the taxable profits, using receipts to prove the cost of repairs or replacement.

How will these changes affect you?

The effect of the new buy to let tax rules depends on your situation and no size fits all.

If you’re already a buy to let landlord with one or more existing properties, it makes a lot of sense to get proper tax and legal advice from people who are qualified to tailor their advice and guidance to your own circumstances.

If you haven’t taken the buy to let landlord plunge yet, it’s a good idea to explore the new tax rules carefully, apply them to your plans and calculate whether it still make financial sense to buy a home to let, bearing in mind that property can provide longer term asset growth as prices rise, as well as a rental income. It’s also important to understand it’s also entirely possible for house prices to fall, and for rental income to be eaten up by unexpected expenses. And it’s wise to remember that this set of tax changes won’t be the last – the rules could easily change again.

Can you minimise landlord tax liability?

There are ways to minimise the impact, and a qualified tax expert will guide you through ways to legally minimise the tax on BTL income:

  1. If you buy a BTL property before 1st April you won’t be eligible for the new taxes
  2. For existing BTL arrangements, you can think about switching your mortgage to get the best possible deal – there are some excellent rates available at the moment
  3. You could transform your BTL property portfolio into a limited company and limit your tax liability to corporation tax, which is lower than income tax on buy to let profits. You’ll need to check first, to make sure your mortgage or finance deal allows it
  4. If your spouse pays a lower rate of tax, you can explore transferring the ownership of the property/properties into their name, as long as doing so doesn’t push them into a higher tax band

How are the changes set to affect demand for buy to let properties?

These tax changes are predicted to reduce the demand for BTL property and at the same time have a stabilising effect on house prices. When it comes to selling, the increased stamp duty can still be offset against capital gains tax. On the downside, there’s the potential for a distorted housing market as BTL investors race to beat the 1st April deadline.

If you need advice about buying a buy-to-let property, feel free to contact us.

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