6 April 2017 – attention landlords

It was almost two years ago in the Summer Budget 2015 that the then Chancellor, George Osborne, announced restrictions to income tax relief for interest costs incurred by landlords of residential properties. The proposals became law in November 2015 but it is only from the 6 April 2017 that these provisions came into effect.

In the 2017/18 tax year, the restriction of interest relief to basic rate of tax will apply to 25% of the interest with 75% of the interest getting relief against rental income in the normal way. Landlords will therefore first see the effect in the calculation of their tax liabilities for 2017/18 – the balancing payment for which is due 31 January 2019. A higher rate taxpayer will, in principle, get 5% less relief for finance costs (ie one quarter of 40% higher rate less 20% basic rate). 5% doesn’t sound much but it can be worse than this due to 25% of the interest not being deductible from income. So total income may cross a threshold such as:

  • £50,000 – in which case Child Benefit may be clawed back
  • £100,000 – in which case personal allowances may be reduced.

The restrictions are only going to get worse, so please talk to us if you want clarification on any aspect of these rules.

HMRC’s Making Tax Digital project also has an impact on many property businesses from 6 April 2017. The government considers that all unincorporated businesses except for the larger property business will benefit from using the cash basis rather than the usual accruals basis and so is proposing to make this the default basis.

The cash basis means the business accounts for income and expenses when the income is received and expenses are paid. The accruals basis means accounting for income over the period to which it relates and accounting for expenses in the period in which the liability is incurred.

Property businesses will remain on the accruals basis if their cash basis receipts are more than £150,000. The cash basis also does not apply to property businesses carried out by a company, an LLP, a corporate firm (ie a partner in the firm is not an individual), the trustees of a trust or the personal representatives of a person.

The government proposals are that the cash basis will first apply for the 2017/18 tax year which means that your tax return for 2017/18, which has to be submitted by 31 January 2019, will be the first one submitted on the new basis. There will be an option to elect out of the cash basis and stay with the accruals basis and we are here to help you make a decision on this later in the year.