Is it a Repair, Replacement (RDI) or Improvement?

This is probably one of the most difficult cost types to define and is extremely confusing for property investors.

The guidance never seems to quite fit with the work undertaken.

Its an issue for accountants too, often the investor lists all the costs rather than the projects so you end up with lots of entries like B&Q and have to try to reshuffle them into projects like a new kitchen.

HMRC has a tool kit Capital v Revenue which gives some guidance.

In general investors want costs to be repairs (which can be deducted from profit and save tax now) where as HMRC would probably prefer improvements (which are held back and used the Capital Gains Computation when the property is sold).

In this blog I will try to give some further help aimed at owners of Buy to Let properties, the rules apply both to individual investors and those who invest via a company.

Pre-Letting Costs

The general rule is that if you buy a run down property that needs work doing on it before it can be let then that work is an improvement (capital cost).

However, if you had a letter from an letting agent saying it was lettable in its purchase condition then the works could be a repair (revenue).

If substantial work is needed, its best to discuss this with your accountant before the work is done to determine its status as an Improvement or Repair.

The important point is the property needs to in fit state to let before the alterations, refurbishment, repairs are carried out if you want the costs to be repairs.

Here is HMRC’s Guidance from PIM2030

Repairs after a property is acquired

Repairs to reinstate a worn or dilapidated asset are usually deductible as revenue expenditure. The mere fact that the customer bought the asset not long before the repairs are made does not in itself make the repair a capital expense. But a change of ownership combined with one or more additional factors may mean the expenditure is capital. Examples of such factors are:

  • A property acquired that wasn’t in a fit state for use in the business until the repairs had been carried out or that couldn’t continue to be let without repairs being made shortly after acquisition.
  • The price paid for the property was substantially reduced because of its dilapidated state. A deduction isn’t denied where the purchase price merely reflects the reduced value of the asset due to normal wear and tear (for example, between normal exterior painting cycles). This is so even if the customer makes the repairs just after they acquire the asset.
  • The customer makes an agreement that commits them to reinstate the property to a good state of repair.

Repairs

HMRC have agreed “A replacement of a part of the “entirety” with the nearest modern equivalent is allowable as a repair for tax purposes.” (Tax Bulletin 59)

Examples

  • Replacing single glazed windows with double glazed windows
  • Replacing guttering with a new modern guttering
  • Replacing lead pipes with copper or plastic pipes
  • Replacing wooden beams with steel girders

What about Kitchens?

The following refurbishment works would be repairs

  • Stripping out
  • Replacing Base Units
  • Replacing Wall Units
  • Replacing Work Tops
  • Re-tiling
  • Floor repairs
  • Plastering
  • Wiring

Provided you are replacing with a similar standard kitchen

But if you add storage or equipment these items would be capital improvements.

There are also special rules relating to expenditure on specified parts of buildings called
‘integral features’. The following are integral features:


• an electrical system (including a lighting system)
• a cold water system
• a space or water heating system, a powered system of ventilation, air cooling or air
purification, and any floor or ceiling comprised in such a system
• a lift, an escalator or a moving walkway
• external solar shading.


Under these rules if expenditure on an integral feature represents the whole, or more than 50%,
of the cost of replacing the integral feature, then the whole of the expenditure is to be treated as
capital expenditure

Replacement of Domestic Items (RDI)

Since 2016 Replacement of Domestic Items Relief has replaced the Wear and Tear Allowance. The rules are in PIM3210.

Note – RDI is not given for the purchase of new items that are not replacements

In order for relief to be given, 4 conditions must be met:

Condition A – the individual or company looking to claim the relief must carry on a property business that includes the letting of a dwelling-house(s).

Condition B – an old domestic item that has been provided for use in the dwelling-house is replaced with the purchase of a new domestic item. The new item must be provided for the exclusive use of the lessee in that dwelling-house and the old item must no longer be available for use by the lessee.

Condition C – The expenditure on the new item must not prohibited by the wholly and exclusive rule (see BIM37000) but would otherwise be prohibited by the capital expenditure rule (see BIM35000).

Condition D – Capital Allowances must not have been claimed in respect of the expenditure on the new domestic item.

If the 4 conditions are met, then a deduction for the expenditure on the new item can be claimed.

However, a deduction is not allowed if:

  • The dwelling-house in question is, in full or part, a furnished holiday letting (special rules apply to FHL’s)
  • Rent-a-Room receipts have been received in respect of the dwelling-house in question and Rent-a-Room relief has been claimed in relation to those receipts.

If the new item is of broadly the same quality/standard as the old item and doesn’t represent an improvement then the deduction is the cost of the new item. Note that for these purposes, just because an item is brand new does not make it an improvement over an item which has been in use for several years and suffered general wear and tear. For example, a brand new budget washing machine costing circa £200 is not an improvement over a 5 year old washing machine that cost around £200 at the time of purchase (or slightly less, taking into account inflation).

RDI will be given for ‘domestic items’ such as:

  • Moveable furniture such as beds and free-standing wardrobes.
  • Furnishings such as carpets, curtains and linen.
  • Household appliances such as televisions, fridges and freezers.
  • Kitchenware such as crockery and cutlery

Improvements

If an alteration increases the market value of the building, changes its function, or extends the life of the whole building then its an improvement.

We also noted under pre-letting that work to make a property lettable could be an improvement.

PIM2030 states

But there is usually no improvement if trivial increases in performance or capacity arise solely from the replacement of old materials with newer but broadly equivalent materials. For example, the replacement of pipes or storage tanks of imperial measure with the closest metric equivalent may result in slightly increased diameter or capacity but the cost is still revenue expenditure.

Where a significant improvement arises from the change of materials, the whole of the cost is capital expenditure. This includes things like redecoration after the main work has been done (redecoration would ordinarily be a revenue expense). The entire cost is capital expenditure, including the expense of making good any damage to decorations.

Alterations to a building may be so extensive as to amount to the reconstruction of the property. This will be capital expenditure and it can’t be deducted as an ordinary revenue business expense. 

steve@bicknells.net

When you get married does your Buy to Let become jointly owned?

If a married couple or civil partners buy an investment property HMRC the rules are

TSEM9812 – Property held jointly by married couples or civil partners: Overview: two main rules

There are two rules about property held jointly by married couples and civil partners:

  • the ‘50/50 rule’ (ITA/S836) whereby most income from jointly held property is treated as split equally between the two spouses or civil partners for income tax purposes; the 50/50 rule applies unless there is a valid declaration on form 17; sections TSEM9814-9840 contain the details;
  • the ‘form 17 rule’, whereby, if the true income split is different from 50/50, the couple can opt to be taxed on that basis for income tax purposes (ITA/S837); sections TSEM9842-9878 contain the details.

When you get married there are tax changes

Marriage Allowance

Marriage Allowance lets you transfer £1,260 of your Personal Allowance to your husband, wife or civil partner.

This reduces their tax by up to £252 in the tax year (6 April to 5 April the next year).

Capital Gains Tax

If you and your spouse or civil partner are living together, any transfer of an asset between you is treated as giving rise to neither a gain nor a loss to the person transferring it. Any amount actually paid is ignored. If the person receiving the asset later disposes of it, they will be treated as if they had paid an amount equal to the total of your costs.

Inheritance Tax

In addition to the CGT exemption for gifts between spouses, a similar relief exists for inheritance tax (“IHT”) purposes in most cases, so that assets can be gifted from one spouse to another without triggering an IHT charge.

Plus unused Nil Rate bands can be transferred on death.

What about Investment Property?

The short answer is that it does not automatically become jointly owned on marriage, but at least you can transfer part of the ownership without incurring capital gains tax.

steve@bicknells.net

How can you get tax relief on a payment of £500k to a SSAS

Small Self Administered Pensions (SSAS) are common for owner managed businesses.

In general a company can pay up to £40k per year into a SSAS for a employee and if the allowances haven’t been used there is 3 year carry forward option, which could mean up to £120k.

However, where a SSAS has multiple members a company could contribute £500k and get full tax relief. This known as an indirect payment.

Corporation Tax relief on the indirect contribution is available in the year it’s made.  It needs to meet the “wholly and exclusively for the purpose of trade” test. 

If the contribution exceeds £500,000 (up to a maximum of £2 million), the relief must be spread over future years.

Here are the HMRC rules https://www.gov.uk/hmrc-internal-manuals/pensions-tax-manual/ptm043400

Speak to you SSAS provider for advice and further details

steve@bicknells.net

If my company pays me interest will it be taxed?

Companies often borrow from their directors, especially property companies as 100% loan to value loans may not be available from lenders.

If the company pays interest on the loan it will have to register with HMRC and prepare CT61 returns

Click to access ct61-notes-2010.pdf

The CT61 requires the company to deduct 20% tax on the interest.

The Director may be entitled to the interest tax free

Personal Savings Allowance

You may also get up to £1,000 of interest tax-free depending on which Income Tax band you’re in. This is your Personal Savings Allowance.

Income Tax band Tax-free savings income
Basic rate £1,000
Higher rate £500
Additional rate £0

Savings covered by your allowance

Your allowance applies to interest from:

  • bank and building society accounts
  • savings and credit union accounts
  • unit trusts, investment trusts and open-ended investment companies
  • peer-to-peer lending

So the Personal Savings Allowance should cover Directors Loans as explained in accountingweb

https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/tax/business-tax/paying-interest-to-the-director

If you are lending to your company you should make sure that its at a market rate and you may want to consider your security for the loan.

You could opt for a charge at Companies House but at the very least you should have a loan agreement.

steve@bicknells.net

How does a property investor or partnership ask HMRC for incorporation clearance?

Woman working with documents, Tablet pc and notebook. Property management Concept.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a partnership, an LLP or just have properties in your own name, provided you play an active role in managing your properties you could qualify for Section 162 Incorporation Tax Relief which will allow you to roll/hold over the capital gain into shares in your new company.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/incorporation-relief-hs276-self-assessment-helpsheet/hs276-incorporation-relief-2015

If you, either as an individual or in partnership, incorporate a business by transferring the business, together with all the assets of the business, in exchange wholly or partly for shares, you can defer some or all of the gain arising from the disposal of the ‘old assets’ (the business and the assets of the business) until such time as you dispose of the ‘new assets’ (the shares).

This relief is given automatically by Section 162 Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992 provided the various requirements are met.

The key problem area is that Property Investment is generally not considered to be a Trade but because of the uncertainty created by recent legal cases you are able to ask HMRC for a Non-Statutory Clearance. This is effectively written approval from HMRC.

An example of playing an active role (and therefore having a Trade/Business) came up in EM Ramsay v HMRC [2013] UKUT 0226 (TCC)

Mrs Ramsey carried out the following activities

  1. Mr & Mrs Ramsey personally met potential tenants
  2. Mrs Ramsey check the quarterly electric bills
  3. Mrs Ramsey arranged insurance
  4. Mrs Ramsey arranged and attended to maintenance issues (drains)
  5. Mrs Ramsey and her son maintained the garages and cleared rubbish
  6. Mrs Ramsey dealt with post
  7. Mrs Ramsey dealt with fire regulation issues
  8. Mrs Ramsey arranged for a fence to be erected
  9. Mrs Ramsey created a flower bed
  10. Shrubs were pruned and leaves swept
  11. The parking area was cleared of weeds
  12. The flag stones were bleached
  13. Communal areas were vacuumed
  14. Security checks were carried out
  15. She took rubbish to tip
  16. She cleaned vacant flats
  17. she helped elderly tenants with utilities

This work equated to at least 20 hours per week and Mrs Ramsey had no other employment.

It is because she did the work herself that her property investment was considered a ‘Business’ and eligible for Incorporation Tax Relief.

How do you request a Non-Statutory Clearance from HMRC?

You can ask HMRC for further guidance or advice if you:

  • have fully considered the relevant guidance and/or contacted the relevant helpline
  • have not been able to find the information you need
  • remain uncertain about HMRC’s interpretation of tax legislation

HMRC will then set out their advice in writing.

Annex A of HMRC explains the information required

Click to access annex-a.pdf

steve@bicknells.net

How do you share property ownership income between spouses?

OUR NEW HOME

Just focusing on income tax, HMRC assume that when you buy a property/investment property its owned 50/50 between husband and wife or civil partners living together, this set out in the Income tax Act s 836.  However, this rule will not apply in any of the following instances:

  • the income is from furnished holiday lettings;
  • there is actually a partnership in which case the income is divided according to the terms of the partnership agreement;
  • both husband and wife, or both civil partners, have signed a declaration stating their beneficial interests in both the property and the income arising from it.

When you make a declaration it must apply equally to ownership and income and a couple must be married or civil partners, you can’t be separated or divorced or joint tenants.

Form 17 is used to make the declaration
You can use this form to declare a beneficial interest if you hold property jointly and:
• you actually own the property in unequal shares, and
• you are entitled to the income arising in proportion to those shares, and
• you want to be taxed on that basis.

Form 17 must be submitted with in 60 days of completion, in addition a Declaration of Trust is likely to be required.

If there is a change, even a minor change, after submitting the Form 17 it will be invalid and revert to 50/50.

If the property is held in a single name it may be possible to use a declaration of trust to confirm joint beneficial interest.

Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax will be be based on the beneficial interest in the property, so if one spouse is a higher rate tax payer and the other a lower rate tax payer changing the proportion of ownership could have a significant tax advantage.

There is no default ownership for unmarried property owners.

Property owners may also need to agree the split with their mortgage lender.

For more detailed guidance read this advice from HMRC https://www.gov.uk/hmrc-internal-manuals/trusts-settlements-and-estates-manual/tsem9000

steve@bicknells.net

 

The tax advantages of Furnished Holiday Lets

Traditional Old English Cottage with Thatched Roof

There are special tax rules for rental income from properties that qualify as Furnished Holiday Lettings (FHLs).

If you let properties that qualify as FHLs:

  • you can claim Capital Gains Tax reliefs for traders (Business Asset Rollover Relief, Entrepreneurs’ Relief, relief for gifts of business assets and relief for loans to traders)
  • you are entitled to plant and machinery capital allowances for items such as furniture, equipment and fixtures
  • the profits count as earnings for pension purposes

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/furnished-holiday-lettings-hs253-self-assessment-helpsheet/cvgg

In addition:

  • The Interest Rate Relief Restrictions don’t apply – these rules only affect Buy to Let Investors
  • Losses can be set against total income and are not restricted to the rental business; PIM4200 onwards deals with normal rental business losses and PIM4130 deals with furnished holiday lettings losses.

The letting condition

You must let the property commercially as furnished holiday accommodation to the public for at least 105 days in the year (70 days for the tax year 2011 to 2012 and earlier).

The availability condition

Your property must be available for letting as furnished holiday accommodation letting for at least 210 days in the year (140 days for the tax year 2011 to 2012 and earlier).

But the extra stamp duty will apply

Furnished holiday lets

The government proposes that properties bought as furnished holiday lets should be treated in the same way as all other residential properties – if the property is purchased as an additional property the higher rates will apply.

A Company could help you save tax

The current rate of Corporation Tax is 20% but its falling year on year and by 2020 it will be 18%.

Not only that, its the same rate no matter how many companies you have, previously when there were multiple Corporation Rate if you had associated companies the small companies rate was reduce in a marginal rate calculation.

Stamp Duty (SDLT) on selling Shares is 0.5%.

ExampleSo £1,995 × 0.5% = £9.97. This is rounded up to the nearest £5, which means you pay £10 Stamp Duty.

https://stevejbicknell.com/budget-2016/budget-3/

HMRC have a calculator, here is link

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/tools/sdlt/land-and-property.htm

One of the big benefits of Shares is that its easy to split ownership.

Potentially Exempt Transfers (PET’s) allow you to give away shares provided you survive more that 7 years after the transfer, shares make PETs easy and simple.

When you give away shares it will potentially trigger a capital gain but you will be able to use your personal capital gains allowance of £11,100 to offset this gain.

steve@bicknells.net

How does a lifetime ISA work?

Budget 4

The Budget announced that from 6 April 2017 any adult under 40 will be able to open a new Lifetime ISA. They can save up to £4,000 each year and will receive a 25% bonus from the government on every pound they put in.

This is why you should get one!

  1. 25% Bonus – free money is always good
  2. It encourages you to save – building up savings for a house or retirement will definitely be of benefit
  3. The under 40’s will probably see this as better than a pension plan, as you can’t access pensions until you are 55

Personally Pensions are still my favourite…

Lets say you invest £10,000 per year of earned gross income, increasing each year by 3% for inflation and see the effect of tax relief at 40% and 20%, assuming a return on the investment of 7% (which you should get with Commercial Property Investment)

40% Tax Rate 20% Tax Rate
Year Pension No Pension % Diff Year Pension No Pension % Diff
1 £10,700 £6,252 71% 1 £10,700 £8,336 28%
2 £22,470 £12,954 73% 2 £22,470 £17,272 30%
3 £35,395 £20,131 76% 3 £35,395 £26,841 32%
4 £49,564 £27,808 78% 4 £49,564 £37,078 34%
5 £65,077 £36,013 81% 5 £65,077 £48,017 36%
6 £82,036 £44,773 83% 6 £82,036 £59,698 37%
7 £100,555 £54,119 86% 7 £100,555 £72,158 39%
8 £120,754 £64,081 88% 8 £120,754 £85,441 41%
9 £142,761 £74,692 91% 9 £142,761 £99,590 43%
10 £166,715 £85,987 94% 10 £166,715 £114,649 45%
11 £192,765 £98,000 97% 11 £192,765 £130,667 48%
12 £221,070 £110,771 100% 12 £221,070 £147,694 50%
13 £251,801 £124,337 103% 13 £251,801 £165,782 52%
14 £285,140 £138,740 106% 14 £285,140 £184,987 54%
15 £321,285 £154,024 109% 15 £321,285 £205,365 56%
16 £360,445 £170,233 112% 16 £360,445 £226,978 59%
17 £402,846 £187,416 115% 17 £402,846 £249,888 61%
18 £448,731 £205,621 118% 18 £448,731 £274,161 64%
19 £498,358 £224,901 122% 19 £498,358 £299,868 66%
20 £552,006 £245,309 125% 20 £552,006 £327,079 69%

Even when you consider:

  • Your money is locked up till you are 55
  • You pay tax when you take money out of the pension
  • You can get 25% out of the pension tax free

The difference in growth is massive

If you do salary sacrifice you can increase the tax effect by saving national insurance too.

steve@bicknells.net

What are the tax changes for Residential Investors?

 

Boot

But to Let Stamp Duty

Prop Value Std Rate B2L Rate
< £125,000 0% 3%
£125k to £250k 2% 5%
£250k to £925k 5% 8%
£925k to £1.5m 10% 13%
Over £1.5m 12% 15%

A 3% surcharge on stamp duty when some buy-to-let properties and second homes are bought will be levied from April 2016.

This means it will add £5,520 of tax to be paid when buying the average £184,000 buy-to-let property. The new charge would have hit 160,000 buyers if it had applied last year.

But, commercial property investors, with more than 15 properties, will be exempt from the new charges.

Stamp Duty on Selling Shares is 0.5% so why aren’t more investors buying property into companies and then selling the shares in the company!

Mortgage Interest

Mortgage Interest offset against property income will be restricted

2017/18

75% of the interest can be claimed in full and 25% will get relief at 20%

2018/19

50% of the interest can be claimed in full and 50% will get relief at 20%

2019/20

25% of the interest can be claimed in full and 75% will get relief at 20%

2020/21

100% will get only 20% relief

For a 20% tax payer that’s fine but for higher rate taxpayer it’s a disaster that will lead to them paying a lot more tax

These rules will not apply to Companies, Companies will continue to claim full relief.

Capital Gains

From April 2016, the higher rate of Capital Gains Tax will be cut from 28% to 20% and the basic rate from 18% to 10%.

There will be an additional 8% surcharge to be paid on residential property.

Capital Gains Tax on residential property does not apply to your main home, only to additional properties (for example a flat that you let out).

Wear & Tear

Landlords have been used to claiming 10% of rental income as a tax deductible wear and tear allowance, but that will change in April 2016.

The Wear and Tear Allowance for fully furnished properties will be replaced with a relief that enables all landlords of residential dwelling houses to deduct the costs they actually incur on replacing furnishings, appliances and kitchenware in the property.

The relief given will be for the cost of a like-for-like, or nearest modern equivalent, replacement asset, plus any costs incurred in disposing of, or less any proceeds received for, the asset being replaced.

What could a Property Investor do to reduce the impact of these changes?

  1. Incorporation – could you save money by incorporating your residential investments, would you qualify for incorporation tax relief
  2. Pension Contributions – Pension Contributions currently receive tax relief at your rate of tax – 20% to 45% – so if you are a 40% tax payer you would need pay half the value of your 20% restricted interest into your pension to mitigate the extra tax
  3. Change of Use – would your Buy to Let be able to be converted to a Furnished Holiday Let? or another type of commercial property on which the interest restriction won’t apply
  4. Increasing the Rent – Could you charge more to cover the extra taxes?
  5. Spouse Income Tax Elections – If the property is jointly held HMRC assume a 50/50 split of the income but you can change that using Form 17 this might be useful if one of you is a basic rate taxpayer and the other a higher rate taxpayer
  6. Tax Deductible Expenses – Many landlords overlook expenses at the moment but they could become a lot more important, for example, use of your home, motor expenses, computers, travel and subsistence, phone costs etc

steve@bicknells.net

 

 

 

Buy to Let interest relief tax saving ideas

To Let

Restriction of Mortgage Interest Tax Relief

The governments’ plan is to restrict individuals on claiming mortgage interest as a cost against their property investment income, for individuals it will work as follows

2017/18 75% of the interest can be claimed in full and 25% will get relief at 20%

2018/19 50% of the interest can be claimed in full and 50% will get relief at 20%

2019/20 25% of the interest can be claimed in full and 75% will get relief at 20%

2020/21 100% will get only 20% relief

For a 20% tax payer that’s fine but for higher rate taxpayer its a disaster that will lead to them paying a lot more tax

These rules will not apply to Companies, Companies will continue to claim full relief.

What could a Property Investor do to reduce the impact of these changes?

Here are a few ideas….

  1. Pension Contributions – Pension Contributions currently receive tax relief at your rate of tax – 20% to 45% – so if you are a 40% tax payer you would need pay half the value of your 20% restricted interest into your pension to mitigate the extra tax
  2. Change of Use – would your Buy to Let be able to be converted to a Furnished Holiday Let? or anther type of commercial property on which the restriction won’t apply
  3. Increasing the Rent – Could you charge more to cover the extra tax?
  4. Spouse Income Tax Elections – If the property is jointly held HMRC assume a 50/50 split of the income but you can change that using Form 17 this might be useful if one of you is a basic rate taxpayer and the other a higher rate taxpayer
  5. Tax Deductible Expenses – Many landlords overlook expenses at the moment but they could become a lot more important, for example, use of your home, motor expenses, computers, travel and subsistence, phone costs etc

What do you plan to do when the changes take effect?

steve@bicknells.net

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