Can I just move my Buy to Let into a partnership and then incorporate?

If you have a large portfolio (because that could be seen as business) then this might be possible but not if you only have a single property (or if its a small portfolio).

Forming a partnership has been seen as milestone on the route to incorporation, incorporation will mean that Section 24 interest restrictions don’t apply, which can save substantial amounts of tax.

Incorporation Tax Relief

The Ramsey case set out a basis for incorporation tax

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.

SDLT

Partnerships have special rules on SDLT relating to incorporation.

The rules on SDLT for Partnerships are in the Finance Act 2003 Schedule 15 and amendments in the Finance Act 2006 Schedule 24.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/14/schedule/15

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/25/schedule/24

It is complicated but essentially it comes down to the following formulae

MV x (100 – sum of lower proportions (SLP))%

What this means is that if the land being put into the partnership is effectively retained by the transferor-partner (or persons connected with the transferor) after the transaction, you basically end up with:

MV x (100-100) = £0

So a husband and wife partnership owning 50% each could transfer the property to a company for 50% of the shares each and in theory there would be no SDLT charge.

What’s the problem for small portfolios

Take a look this tax question of the week My VIP Tax Team question of the week: Finance Costs Restriction (cronertaxwise.com)

Two of my clients, a married couple, have jointly held residential investment property. The husband is a higher rate taxpayer and the wife is a basic rate taxpayer and they would like to change the allocation of the property income. They do not want to change their 50/50 capital interest so have decided to form a general partnership to take advantage of exception C within ITA 2007 S836 to the assumption they are beneficially entitled to the income in equal shares. Their property portfolio is mortgaged. As the husband has income from other sources, he has fully utilised relief for all finance costs attributed to him. The wife has cumulative unrelieved finance costs, due to her personal allowance mitigating her tax liability on the property income. Can those unrelieved finance costs be carried forward and relieved against tax liabilities on property income from the partnership?

Alexandra Fielding – Croner 4/5/22

There are two issues you raise which need to be addressed.

The first is the formation of a partnership to enable more of the property income to be allocated to the wife.

Although, as you say, a partnership means the assumed 50/50 income entitlement of s836 ITA 2007 does not apply, this is not the end of the matter. A non-commercial allocation of profits within a partnership is still within the settlement legislation of s624 ITTOIA 2005 and can apply to all partnerships and LLPs. This is a view confirmed by HMRC at TSEM4215.

The allocation of more of the profits to the wife without a corresponding increase in her share of partnership equity simply to avoid income tax would be caught by the settlement legislation. The exception in s626 ITTOIA 2005 for transfers between spouse/civil partners would not apply as this would be “wholly or substantially a right to income” without a corresponding transfer of partnership equity. If the couple’s particular rental properties require personal involvement of time and effort and such work is only carried out by the wife, or most of it is carried out by the wife, then it may be possible to commercially justify a greater share of the partnership profits to be allocated to the wife. How much would depend on the time spent and the nature of the work undertaken.

I would add that whether the particular rental properties constitute a “business” that meets the requirements of the Partnership Act 1890 depends on the facts involved. Although not an issue actively pursued by HMRC at the moment, there is a published view from HMRC at PM131800 which states:

The letting of jointly owned property does not normally constitute a partnership. Most cases will fall short of the degree of business organisation needed to constitute a business. The provision of significant additional services in return for payment may be an indicator of such business organisation.

The second issue relates to the unrelieved finance costs.

The rules to determine the entitlement to relief of non-deductible costs of a dwelling-related loan for an individual are contained within ITTOIA 2005 S274A and S274AA. Section 274A(3) tells us the relievable amount for a tax year is the total of the individual’s current-year restricted finance costs (if any) for that year in respect of that business and the unrelieved individual’s brought-forward restricted finance costs (if any) for that year in respect of that business.

The legislation restricts the tax reduction for finance costs so that a reduction can only be made against the income tax liability on the same property business to which the finance costs relate.

Although the properties and the individuals carrying on the letting activities will remain the same after the partnership is formed, for income tax purposes the partnership property business is a separate property business to that previously carried on by the individuals (ITTOIA 2005 S859(2)). This rule pre-dates the finance costs restriction and is covered by HMRC at PIM1030.

Therefore, unrelieved dwelling-related loan costs accumulated by the wife will be lost on the formation of the general partnership.

Whilst the wife’s only source of income is property income, she may continue to accumulate unrelieved finance costs. Your clients may want to consider allocating more of the underlying ownership of the property to the wife or transferring other income producing assets to utilise her personal allowance to maximise finance cost tax reductions.

Form 17 – Joint Ownership Proportions

For jointly owned property Form 17 and Declarations of Trust can be used to change the split of ownership.

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.

steve@bicknells.net

Have you remortgaged? will that restrict the recovery of interest beyond the Section 24 rules?

Many Buy To Let properties were purchased in individual names, that was norm before, then from 2017/18 we saw the introduction of clause 24 (section 24).

Essentially Section 24 removes Interest from the property expenses and gives you tax relief (finance allowance) at 20% (basic rate). So Higher rate tax payers will pay more tax.

Historically, its been common for BTL owners to regularly remortgage and with draw capital, basically cashing in on house price rises.

But what many owners seem to have overlooked is that if the mortgage exceeds the original property value (including SDLT and related costs) plus any improvement costs, then the mortgage interest is further restricted.

Increasing a mortgage

If you increase your mortgage loan on your buy-to-let property you may be able to treat interest on the additional loan as a revenue expense, as long as the additional loan is wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the letting business.

Interest on any additional borrowing above the capital value of the property when it was brought into your letting business is not tax deductible.

If the mortgage is for a residential property then the restrictions on interest from April 2017 will apply.

Examples of how to work out Income Tax when you rent out a property – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

steve@bicknells.net

HMRC Post-transaction valuation checks (CG34) and why you need one

Post transactions checks are used in relation to capital gains, they can be used by individuals or companies.

Its a free service offered by HMRC.

HMRC state

If we agree your valuations we’ll not question your use of those valuations in your return, unless there are any important facts affecting the valuations that you’ve not told us about.

But HMRC say it could take at least 3 months to check the valuation.

You can only request a Post Transaction Valuation Check:

  • after disposals relevant to Capital Gains Tax
  • before the date you must file your Self Assessment tax return

Here is a link to the form

CG34 Post-transaction valuation checks for capital gains (publishing.service.gov.uk)

Why are they needed?

There are situation where transactions are not ‘arms length’ in other words they are between connected parties.

For example if you have a development company and sell property to related company.

You can use the CG34 for

  • Shares
  • Goodwill
  • Land
  • Other Assets

The CG34 is not mandatory, you don’t have to get a post valuation check, but if you do, you will gain protection against HMRC questioning your valuation (assuming they agree with you CG34 submission).

You will need to submit supporting documents for example a independent valuation report to justify the value.

For Land valuations you will also need

  • Copy leases
  • Tenancy Agreements
  • Plans of undeveloped land

Where do you send the form?

Taxpayers dealt with by HMRC’s High Net Worth Units, or Public Department 1 should send the completed CG34 to those offices.

Those dealt with by Specialist Trust Offices should send their forms to:

Specialist PT Trusts and Estates Trusts
SO842
Ferrers House
Castle Meadow
Nottingham
NG2 1BB

Other individuals, partnerships and personal representatives should send the completed form direct to:

PAYE and Self Assessment
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1AS

Companies should send to the office dealing with the company corporation tax affairs or if they do not have one, to:

Corporation Tax Services
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1AX

steve@bicknells.net

Making Tax Digital (MTD ITSA) – what will you have to do?

Making Tax Digital (which some have dubbed ‘Making Tax Difficult’) is coming.

Self-employed businesses and landlords with annual business or property income above £10,000 will need to follow the rules for MTD for Income Tax from their next accounting period starting on or after 6th April 2023. However, its expected that HMRC will encourage businesses to start from 6th April 2022 to gain experience in the process before it becomes compulsory.

Its compulsory! failure to comply will result in penalties – you will have 30 days from the end of the quarter in which to file

Making Tax Digital for Landlords and the Self Employed with income over £10k

When it starts the key issues will be

  1. You will basically have 2 returns to file at the same time one for the previous year and new quarterly reporting
  2. The basis periods are expected to be re-aligned so that all the self employed and landlords start at the same time – 6th April 2023
  3. A single annual self assessment will become at least 6 new filings – 4 quarters, end of period and a new self assessment return

The primary legislation for Making Tax Digital relating to VAT and Income Tax is contained in the Finance (No.2) Act 2017.

Business will have to use HMRC approved accounting software, for example

Xero

Sage

Freeagent – free if your business banks with NatWest/RBS

Quickbooks

When we refer to MTD-compatible software, we mean software that can integrate with HMRC systems to send updates to HMRC.

HMRC is not offering its own software products but has provided the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that commercial software developers are using to develop a range of applications that enable businesses to keep their records digitally and integrate with HMRC systems. An API is software that links 2 or more software programmes together, allowing them to exchange data.

So there won’t be a Government Gateway where you can enter the information, you have to use commercial software approved by HMRC.

You have to have all your self employed and property businesses in a single piece of software but be able to report the information separately for each business in the following formats

Furnished Holiday Lets

Income
Accounting Basis (Traditional or Cash)
Rent paid, repairs, insurance and costs of services provided
Loan Interest and other financial costs
Legal, management and other professional fees
Other allowable property expenses
Private use adjustment
Profit or Loss

Residential Property Income

Total Rents and other income from property
Accounting Basis (Traditional or Cash)
Rent, rates, insurance and ground rents
Property repairs and maintenance
Non-residential property finance costs
Legal, management and other professional fees
Costs of services provided, including wages
Other allowable property expenses
Profit or Loss
Private use adjustment
Residential property finance costs

Self Employed

If the turnover is below £85,000 only Turnover and Total Expenses need to be reported otherwise you will need

Turnover
Accounting Basis (Traditional or Cash)
Costs of goods bought for re-sale
Car, van and travel expenses
Wages, salaries and other staff costs
Rent, rates, power and insurance costs
Repairs and maintenance of property and equipment
Accountancy, legal and other professional fees
Interest and bank and credit card etc financial charges
Telephone, fax, stationery and other office costs
Other allowable business expenses
Profit or Loss

What is the process?

Stage One – Sign Up and Software

  • Business that fall within the scope of MTD ITSA (Income Tax Self Assessment ) will need to be signed up before April 2023
  • ‘Digital Records’ need to kept on approved HMRC software
  • The minimum amount of information will be Date, Amount and Tax Category
  • The information needs to be summarised in the format noted above
  • Each property and business activity will need its own reports

Stage Two – Quarterly Reporting

  • An electronic submission of summary totals for specified categories from digital records of each business on a quarterly basis (obligation period) from software to HMRC needs to be made
  • The first submission will include designatory data
  • Updates are due from 10 days before to one month after the quarter end date
  • The update does not need to include a statement that the data is complete and accurate
  • HMRC will return a calculation of the tax liability based on the information sent but payment will due on the current pre-MTD dates (or at least for now)

Stage Three – End of Period Statement

  • Process to finalise the taxable profit or allowable loss for any one source of business income
  • The process will pull together the quarterly submissions and allow you to claim allowances and reliefs
  • You will be able to exclude disallowable expenses
  • This submission does require a declaration that the information is complete and correct
  • HMRC will then calculate the tax due

Stage Four – Final Declaration (New Self Assessment Return)

  • Referred to as crystallisation
  • It will take into account all sources of income and gains not just those from Self Employment or Property
  • Its a replacement for the SA100 tax return
  • The deadline will be 31st January
  • HMRC will provide a Submission Interface

steve@bicknells.net

How does your personal tax allowance get allocated against different types of income?

Every year we are given a personal tax allowance, this year its £12,570 (2021-22) last year it was £12,500 (2020-21).

The allowance is the amount we can earn before we pay tax.

The tax bands are currently (2021-22)

BandTaxable incomeTax rate
Personal AllowanceUp to £12,5700%
Basic rate£12,571 to £50,27020%
Higher rate£50,271 to £150,00040%
Additional rateover £150,00045%

But on your tax return the personal allowance is allocated in a specific order

  1. Non-savings income – comprised of earnings, pensions, taxable social security payments, trading profits and income from property. The highest type gets the first allocation.
  2. Savings income
  3. Dividend income is the top slice.

The Rules are in the Income Tax Act 2007 (legislation.gov.uk)

Section 25 (2) states …deduct the reliefs and allowances in the way which will result in the greatest reduction in the taxpayer’s liability to income tax.

What makes this even more complicated is the the way that other allowances work for example the Savings Allowance and Dividend Allowance.

Your allowances for earning interest before you have to pay tax on it include:

  • your Personal Allowance
  • starting rate for savings
  • Personal Savings Allowance

Starting rate for savings

You may also get up to £5,000 of interest and not have to pay tax on it. This is your starting rate for savings.

The more you earn from other income (for example your wages or pension), the less your starting rate for savings will be.

If your other income is £17,570 or more

You’re not eligible for the starting rate for savings if your other income is £17,570 or more.

If your other income is less than £17,570

Your starting rate for savings is a maximum of £5,000. Every £1 of other income above your Personal Allowance reduces your starting rate for savings by £1.

Personal Savings Allowance

You may also get up to £1,000 of interest and not have to pay tax on it, depending on which Income Tax band you’re in. This is your Personal Savings Allowance.

To work out your tax band, add all the interest you’ve received to your other income.

Income Tax bandPersonal Savings Allowance
Basic rate£1,000
Higher rate£500
Additional rate£0

Dividend Allowance

The Dividend Allowance is currently £2,000

You only pay tax on any dividend income above the dividend allowance.

Tax bandTax rate on dividends over the allowance
Basic rate7.5%
Higher rate32.5%
Additional rate38.1%

Your SA302 Tax Calculation should show you how the allowances have been allocated.

steve@bicknells.net

Do Directors need to list directorships where they had no income? Self Assessment Returns

This question comes up every year.

“I am a director of lots of companies but only get paid by one company, do I need to list them all?”

Some people make up dummy Payroll Numbers and list directorships, some people list them in the notes, some don’t list them at all, what is the right thing to do?

The answer has to be to follow the HMRC Guidance

 

Click to access SA150_2019.pdf

As you can see its says

received income as a company director’

‘held an office, such as chairperson, secretary or treasurer and received income for that work

If you didn’t receive income you don’t need to report it as it will not affect your tax.

steve@bicknells.net

 

 

What if you don’t get your self assessment done in time?

What if you don’t have all the information you need for the return?

Returns which include provisional or estimated figures should be accepted provided they can be regarded as satisfying the filing requirement.

A provisional figure is one which the taxpayer / agent has supplied pending the submission of the final / accurate figure

An estimated figure is one which the taxpayer / agent wishes to be accepted as the final figure because it is not possible to provide an accurate figure for example where the records have been lost. The taxpayer is not required to tick box 20 of the Finishing your Tax Return section of the return page TR 6 (or equivalent in a return for an earlier year) where estimated figures have been used

HMRC SAM121190

Is there a reasonable excuse as to why you can’t file the return?

A reasonable excuse is something that stopped you meeting a tax obligation that you took reasonable care to meet, for example:

1. your partner or another close relative died shortly before the tax return or payment deadline
2. you had an unexpected stay in hospital that prevented you from dealing with your tax affairs
3. you had a serious or life-threatening illness
4. your computer or software failed just before or while you were preparing your online return
5. service issues with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) online services
6. a fire, flood or theft prevented you from completing your tax return
7. postal delays that you couldn’t have predicted
8. delays related to a disability you have

What if you make a mistake?

If you make a mistake on your tax return, you’ve normally got 12 months from 31 January after the end of the tax year to correct or amend it.

White Space

The Self Assessment Return contain additional information boxes, these are known as white space, use these spaces to explain your calculations if you have any doubt about the answers you have given

Penalties for Late Filing

  • 1st Feb 2018 – £100 for missing the deadline
  • 30th April 2018 – £10 per day for 90 days after your are 3 months late (£900 in total)
  • 31st July 2018 – 5% or £300 which is ever is greater if you are 12 months late
  • 31st Jan 2019 – £300 or possibly 100% of tax due if deliberate

On top of these penalties there are also penalties for non payment

steve@bicknells.net

Why do we leave Self Assessment Returns until the last minute?

It seems to me that there are basically two types of taxpayer and the split is pretty even.

The first type are ‘Organised Planners’, they prepare things as early as possible, work out what tax might be due and how they will pay it, look at ways to change things and file early. They will always pay less tax because they have had a chance to consider their options – Pensions, Gift Aid, SEIS, EIS and other things that reduce tax – they also tend to have a full set of records neatly posted on their accounting system.

The second type are ‘Just in Time’, whatever the deadline, they put things off. The problem with this is that often this means things get forgotten and paperwork gets lost, there is no time to prepare or plan and the tax will be payable immediately.

The added problem this year is that Credit Card Payments are no longer an option

In 2016, personal credit card payments for tax numbered 454,000 making of total of £741 million and resulting in £3.2 million in bank fees.

These payments were largely made by small businesses, looking to manage bulk payments by putting them on a credit card that could then be paid off over time.

Below are some statistics from HMRC from 2012, but I think that little has changed and the statistics will be similar this year.

I don’t think anyone would say they enjoy paying tax or filling in forms, so in some ways you can understand why some people put it off and do it ‘just in time’.

Last year HMRC reported

29 January was the busiest day with 513,271 returns completed – that’s more than 21,386 returns received per hour. The busiest time was between 14:00 and 15:00, with 50,358 customers – 14 per second – clicking submit.

If you haven’t done your return, do it now, don’t wait till 11.59 on 31st January.

Steve@bicknells.net

 

Oops! HMRC software not working

We have an extremely complicated tax system, so is it any wonder that even HMRC struggle to calculate your tax correctly!

The way that allowances are applied for dividends, allowances, savings and other items all impact on each other.

Many tax payers will be working on their 2016/17 returns (to 5th April 2017 due by 31st January 2018) over the coming months and find that they can’t use the HMRC software because it doesn’t work properly.

As reported by Accounting Web

Rob Ellis, CEO of BTCSoftware, can’t remember a year when there have been so many exclusions from filing SA tax returns online. For the 2016/17 tax returns 16 new examples have been added to the online filing exclusions list, which is now in version 4;  there is a version 5 of this list under construction.

You can read the full list of exclusion on this link https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/622426/2017-exc-indi.pdf

There are 62 exclusions!

Why is tax complicated! Here are the facts:

  • 6,102 pages of legislation (according to Tolleys in 2012)
  • 639 monetary values
  • 425 thresholds
  • 214 penalties

In 2016:

  • 11.26 million SA returns due
  • 10.39 million returns were received in total
  • Around 870,000 SA returns not submitted by 31st January 2016
  • 10.39 million returns received by midnight on 31 January (92% of total issued)
  • 9.24 million returns filed online (89%)
  • 1.14 million returns filed on paper (11%)
  • More than 4.45 million returns received in January 2016 (43% of total received)
  • 823,000 returns received on 30 and 31 January (18% of total returns received in January)
  • Busiest hour: 14:00 – 15:00 on 29 January – 50,358 returns received (839.3 per minute; 13.9 per second).
  • N.B. The figures are sourced from Self Assessment management information from the Computerised Environment for Self Assessment as at 01 February 2016 for the 2014-15 tax year.

Even if the HMRC software is working…

10 most common online self assessment issues

Here are 10 of the most common problems, issues and errors that come up:

  1. Not leaving enough time to register for Self Assessment – It can take 20 working days (this is usually 4 weeks) to complete the registration process, then for online returns, allow 10 working days (21 if you’re abroad) to register because HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) posts you an activation code.
  2. Lost Login details – Your account will be locked for 2 hours if you enter the wrong user ID or password 3 times.If you’ve lost both your user ID and password:
    – individuals in Self Assessment can request new ones (allow 7 days to get them by post) or sign up with the GOV.UK Verify trial
    – contact HMRC for all other online services
  3. Leaving it too late to get help – If you need help from an accountant don’t leave it too late as they will need to carryout AML and other checks before they can file your return, they will also need your UTR
  4. Failing to complete all the parts of the return – For example leaving out PAYE information
  5. Failing to press ‘submit’ – you would be surprised how many people complete the return and then stop without submitting or leave submission and then forget to do it
  6. Missing out details of your Pension Provider
  7. Failing to check the calculation – Most people do a rough calculation of what they owe but fail to check the HMRC calculation only to find out they have made a mistake
  8. Using invalid characters such as # ‘ ” in boxes where these are not allowed
  9. Not paying the tax they owe by 31st January
  10. Failing to explain where estimates and provisional sums have been used

If you don’t already use an accountant, may be 2017 is the year to start?

steve@bicknells.net

Do Directors really have to do self assessment returns? read What happened to a Property Company Director

The official guidance for Directors is…

As a director of a limited company, you must:

You don’t need to register for Self Assessment or send a tax return if your company is a non-profit organisation (for example, a charity) and you didn’t get any pay or benefits, like a company car.

https://www.gov.uk/running-a-limited-company

https://www.gov.uk/self-assessment-tax-returns/who-must-send-a-tax-return

So, basically, if you are a director you must register!

Many accountants think that this one size fits all approach is a little over the top and returns for salaried directors are unnecessary in some cases but the rules are absolutely clear, Directors must register!

So the latest case involving a property company came as a surprise to many accountants

Click to access TC05929.pdf

Mohammed Salem Kadhem (case TC05929) became a director of a property company on 21 May 2014. He received no pay or dividends from that company and didn’t register for self-assessment.

It was reported in full at http://www.accountingweb.co.uk/tax/hmrc-policy/tribunal-company-directors-dont-have-to-submit-tax-returns?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=AWUKPOW210617&utm_content=AWUKPOW210617+CID_b1f3f98189c6021fa5eaf5a489ca5e3d&utm_source=internal_cm&utm_term=Company%20directors%20dont%20have%20to%20submit%20tax%20returns

Basically HMRC made mistakes in their approach to the case basically arguing that a notice to file had been sent but were unable to prove the notice was sent and Mohammed Salem Kadhem won.

The tribunal accepted that he had a reasonable excuse for filing a late return and all the penalties were quashed.

This doesn’t change the fact that all directors must register and a file self assessment returns. Don’t risk it, its better to file returns!

steve@bicknells.net