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Buy-To-Let: Changes to Tax Relief

In the 2015 Summer Budget and Autumn Statement, the Chancellor introduced several changes that will affect anyone buying or owning a buy-to-let property in the UK. It is important that landlords understand these changes because they may affect the profitability of many buy-to-let portfolios, however small or large they are.

From 1 April 2016, higher rates of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) (3% above the current rates) will be charged on the purchase of additional UK residential properties. This may impact buy to let investors. Read our blog on these changes here.

For example, a property bought now for £500,000 would attract tiered SDLT rates of 0% on the first £125,000, 2% on the next £125,000 and 5% on the remaining £250,000, or £15,000 in total. But after 1 April, the rates will be 3%, 5% and 8% respectively, or £30,000, if the purchaser already owns one or more residential properties.

Also, from 2017 the amount that some landlords can claim in tax relief on their finance costs (such as mortgage interest payments, interest on loans to buy furnishings and fees incurred on taking out and repaying mortgages) is being gradually reduced over 4 years.

When the new restrictions are fully in force from the beginning of the 2020/21 tax year, landlords will be only be able to claim tax relief at the basic tax rate of 20%, instead of 40% or 45% for those in higher or top rate income tax brackets respectively.

How the current rules work

At the moment, you can claim all of the annual mortgage interest you pay against your income from a property, and then only pay tax on the difference. So if your income tax rate is 40% then your tax bill is 40% of this difference.
Here’s an example. Let’s say your buy-to-let property generates a rental income of £10,000 a year, while you pay £9,000 interest on your annual mortgage payments. At the moment, you only pay income tax on the £1,000 difference between the rental income and the mortgage interest.

If you pay the basic rate of tax (20%), you’ll owe £200. Those who pay the higher rate of tax (40%) will owe £400, and if you pay the top tax rate of 45%, it would be £450. In another example, if you receive £15,000 in rent annually and pay mortgage interest payments of £10,000 a year, a basic-rate taxpayer will owe £1,000 under the current rules, while a higher-rate taxpayer will owe £2,000 and a top-rate taxpayer would owe £2,250. These examples assume there are no other deductible expenses for tax purposes.

The new rules explained

From 2017, the way the tax relief is calculated is going to change. Under the new rules, you will owe tax at your personal tax rate on the entire income from a property. From 2020/21, when the rules are fully in force, you will only be able to deduct a maximum of 20% of your mortgage interest payments from this tax liability to calculate the amount of tax due.

This means that if you pay income tax at the basic rate of 20%, you won’t see any change in the amount you owe.

Imagine that your buy-to-let property generates a rental income of £10,000 a year with mortgage interest paid of £9,000. In 2020, when the new rules are introduced in full, you will be taxed at 20% of £10,000 (or £2,000). Then 20% of your £9,000 mortgage interest payments (or £1,800) can be deducted, leaving you with a tax bill of £200, the same as before.

But higher and top-rate taxpayers will pay more. Based on the same scenario, in 2020, higher-rate taxpayers will be taxed at 40% of £10,000 (or £4,000), but will only be able to deduct 20% of their £9,000 mortgage interest payments (or £1,800).

This will leave higher-rate taxpayers with a tax bill of £2,200, compared to £400 under the current system. Those paying the 45% tax rate will owe £2,700, compared to £450 today.

Looking at the example where the annual rent received is £15,000 and mortgage interest payments are £10,000 a year, basic-rate taxpayers would still owe £1,000 under the new rules, the same as before. However, higher-rate taxpayers will owe £4,000 from 2020, compared to £2,000 under current rules, and top-rate taxpayers will owe £4,750, rather than £2,250.

If you are interested in knowing more or would like independent mortgage advice in Eastbourne, feel free to call one of our Brokers on 01323 409 849 or email office@sentryadvice.co.uk

The blog postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of Sentry Advice Limited. All comments are made in good faith, and neither Sentry Advice Limited nor the author will accept liability for them. No advice is given in any posting. Please contact your adviser for more information or advice.

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