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The Section 24 provision came into full effect for the tax year, 2020/21. These provisions were phased in over several years and have substantially reduced the amount of tax relief that landlords are entitled to, reversing several of the major tax advantages previously available to property investors.
In this guide, we explain everything that you need to know about Section 24, what it means for your buy-to-let portfolio, and what actions you can take to reduce the impact of increased tax liability.
Section 24 of the Finances Act of 2015 came into full force at the beginning of the tax year of 2020. It reduces the amount of tax relief the landlords are able to claim, thus increasing the overall tax liability for residential property investors.
For example, prior to the introduction of Section 24 landlords could deduct mortgage interest payments and other property financing costs, including things like mortgage admin fees and the interest on loans taken out to furnish properties. However, since Section 24 has come into full effect these financial costs can no longer be deducted from the rental profits before tax, meaning buy to let landlords have to pay tax on the full amount and then can only claim back a portion of those expenses.
There are several aims in mind with Section 24 tax changes. Firstly, the government wants to curb the private rental market by making it less attractive for landlords to invest in property. The intent behind this action is to reduce the number of people that own multiple properties, allowing for more properties to be on the market and slow down the appreciation of property.
Secondly, it’s to stop higher earners from claiming back larger amounts of tax relief. By introducing this measure, the goal is to target tax raises on higher-income individuals.
Finally, it is to increase the housing stock available and give first-time homebuyers an opportunity to get on the property ladder. With the rapid increase in value of property over the last few decades, first-time homebuyers are faced with massive monetary entry barriers.
The Section 24 tax changes apply to all residential buy-to-let landlords if they are one of the following:
The section 24 tax relief changes do not at this time apply to holiday rentals, commercial properties, or residential property owned by a registered company.
Buy-to-let landlords are still allowed to deduct from their gross rent the allowable expenses, meaning expenses such as maintenance costs, can still be deducted from the gross rent and tax only needs to be paid on the rental income after that deduction.
A few allowable expenses include:
Relief on the following costs is now restricted and payments, cannot be deducted when calculating taxable profit. Instead, a percentage can be claimed back after the taxable profit has been worked out.
As you can see Section 24 affects most financing repayment claims, rather than ongoing property maintenance and management costs.
Under the Section 24 rules, you will need to pay income tax on almost all of your earnings from the property and then claim back relief.
In this example, your rental income is £18,000 a year and your mortgage interest is £6,000 a year.
Under Section 24 You’ll pay tax on the full £18,000. This will be either 20% (£3,600) or 40%(£7,200), depending on which tax bracket you’re in.
You can then claim only the basic rate tax reduction (currently 20%) of the mortgage interest payment, £1,200.
Meaning the overall amount of tax you would pay is £2,400 or £6,000 depending on the tax bracket you fall into. It’s also worth noting other streams of income can affect the tax bracket you fall into as well.
Calculating the amount of taxable profit on your rental property can be a fairly complex issue, so it’s well worth consulting with a licensed professional to get financial advice and ensure that you are calculating and paying the right amount. Additionally, a qualified financial adviser should be able to assist you in making future plans, effectively budgeting, and achieving your financial goals for the future.
For landlords with smaller rental income and portfolios, the effects of Section 24 may be reasonably minimal. For landlords with bigger portfolios, however, these tax implications could be large so it’s well worth considering potential actions that could be taken to reduce the impact of these changes.
Whether you agree with their policy or not, the recent policy changes made by the UK government show a particular stance has been taken against property investors. The aim, as mentioned earlier is to increase the housing stock available for first-time homeowners. And it is likely over the coming years that the UK Government will introduce additional measures, such as raising the capital gains tax making property investing in residential lets even less attractive.
All that landlords can do at this point in time is manage their portfolio as best they can with modern tools such as Landlord Studio to optimise cash flow and long-term gains, making sure they’re taking into account every deductible expense, and have planned financially for the future.
Other key considerations that landlords need to be considering right now are the changes to income tax reporting with the introduction of MTD which come into effect in 2024. This will require all landlords and property investors to keep digital records, which they will be required to submit on a quarterly basis to the HMRC.
Finally, EPC regulations are changing as well. These regulation changes could cost landlords £1,000s, as they are required to invest in upgrading the energy efficiency of their properties. The cap currently for EPC investments is expected to be raised to £10,000. Landlords should consider consolidating assets and or planning future improvements to their properties in line with the EPC regulation changes now so that they can spread out the cost of upgrades required to lift their property to a band C.
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