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Should you transfer your buy-to-let properties into a limited company?

By | Financial, Taxes | No Comments

With mortgage interest tax relief disappearing, landlords who have a few buy-to-let properties could consider transferring them into a limited company.  But is it worth doing? Jonathan Amponsah, CEO at The Tax Guys, explains the pros and cons.

Mortgage interest relief for buy-to-let (BTL) landlords is changing, with the new rules being phased in between April 2017 and 2020.

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Landlords will no longer be able to deduct all of their finance costs from their property income.  From 2020, you will instead receive a basic rate reduction from your income tax liability for your finance costs. So, if you incur £1,000 interest, you will only be able to claim £200 (20% x £1,000) off your tax bill.

However, this change doesn‘t apply to limited companies so many BTL landlords are now tempted to transfer their property into a limited company to continue claiming tax relief on all the interest and finance costs.

It’s an attractive proposition as a limited company will enjoy the tax relief that individuals are now losing, and any net profit will be taxed at the lower company tax rates of 20%.

But… you may find yourself landed with unnecessary tax bills and costs.

Pitfalls

Here are five common pitfalls to be aware of if you are considering a transfer to a limited company:

  • Stamp Duty Land Tax. If you transfer the property from yourself to the company (effectively the company buys the property) then the company could become liable to pay stamp duty land tax. So while you reduce income tax, you may end up paying the same amount or more in stamp duty land tax.
  • Capital Gains Tax. If you transfer the property to the company, this will be treated as if you’ve sold the property to the company. If the property has gone up in value since you originally bought it, you’ll have to pay up to 28% capital gains tax on the difference, subject to any tax reliefs and allowances. If you have a few properties to transfer, seek advice about a relief you could claim to defer your capital gains tax.

These two main tax pitfalls could potentially wipe out any short-term tax savings.

  • Your Mortgage. If your company needs a mortgage to buy the property from you then watch out as in most cases the interest rate is higher for commercial or company mortgages than it is for individuals. So, you could end up paying a lot more over the full term of the mortgage.
  • Once the property is transferred, the company owns it, not the landlord. If something happens to the company, all its assets will be exposed including the property that you put in it.
  • At some point in the future if you sell the property the company will pay Corporation Tax on the profits and the balance of the money from the sale will remain in the company.  In order to get access to the funds to enjoy you’d need to take it out of the company either as salary or dividends or other means. You’d then pay additional tax on that income. When you take the above into account the idea of transferring your BTL property into a limited company starts to sound rather bleak.

Benefits

But there are some situations where you can reduce or eliminate the pitfalls above and enjoy some of the benefits of holding your properties through a limited company.

  • If you’re buying a new property then a limited company could be a good idea. But if it’s an existing property and you’re only managing one or two properties, I’d say: don’t bother. You’re better off paying just a little bit of tax now instead of triggering all these taxes and then having to pay additional double tax if you sell the property in the future.
  • If you currently run your BTL through a properly arranged partnership business, then transferring into a limited company could be a good idea because some of the tax burdens above could be reduced.
  • Legacy planning. Landlords who want to leave their BTL properties to their children could consider the pros and cons of a Family Investment Company as an alternative to a Trust.

Important decision

Clearly the message here is ‘don’t rush into it’. It’s extremely unwise to move BTL properties into a company without taking professional advice.

Whilst there’s no simple answer to the question and it all depends on your circumstances, as a general ‘rule of thumb’ I would say that if it‘s only one or two existing properties in your name, it‘s not a good idea.

If you‘ve got six to 10 properties, it might be worth your while to look at how you can enjoy the benefits of a limited company without triggering unnecessary taxes and costs.

Source: https://www.whatmortgage.co.uk/news/buy-to-let/transfer-buy-let-properties-limited-company/

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Tax Guys - Tax Claims

What Expenses Can I Claim Against Tax?

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Did you know there are over 36 expenses you can claim against tax?

When you incur expenses for your business, the taxman will contribute towards the cost so long as the whole purpose of the expense was for your business. So whilst you cannot claim for some personal items, there’s actually a fair bit that you can claim. It’s important to keep proper records. And make notes of the reasons (business) why you’re incurring the expenses.

So here are some common expenses you can claim.

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  • Use of home expenses
  • Research and development. This is quiet generous because you get 2 for the price of one! The taxman allows you to claim say £200 when you’ve only spent £100. How cool and generous is that??? But wait you need a great tax accountant to help you with this!
  • Travel
  • Internet
  • Computers
  • Hotel accommodation
  • Telephone – If you’re a limited company, did you know you can claim for two mobile phones…?
  • Training
  • Networking event costs
  • Website
  • Protective clothing
  • Pre-trading expenses from 7 years (that’s right..!! Another cool and generous gift from the taxman!)
  • And finally guess what…? Accountancy fees! Yes the fee you pay your accountant is also tax deductible.

But there’s more…!

Click here to request for a copy of our one-page 36 tax deductible expenses.

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21 ways to reduce the impact of brexit

21 Ways to Reduce the Impact of BREXIT

By | Financial, Governments, International, Taxes | No Comments

21 Ways to Reduce the Impact of BREXIT on your Business & Personal Finances…

Whatever your political persuasion, wherever you placed your cross on the ballot paper on the 23 June 2016, events are now unfolding that will change the economic landscape of the UK for generations to come. As your trusted advisers and award winning accountants, we have a duty to help all clients and we will be proactive in supporting you all during these times. We start with this article.

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In this article, we will cover:

  • What happens next
  • What is Article 50
  • Uncertainty 
  • How your business will be affected
  • How your personal finances will be affected
  • Your ten point business and personal finance check list

So what exactly happened on 23 June? Are we still in the EU? Aside from the political upheavals, what are the practical problems that small business owners and tax payers will be facing as a direct result of the Brexit vote?

In this short report we have attempted to de-mystify the steps our government will need to take in order to carry out the outcome of the referendum; that we leave the European Union.

More importantly, it sets out the steps that business owners and individuals can take now to minimize any downside risks posed by the withdrawal.

Whilst we wait for the political process to unwind, we should take time out for thoughtful consideration of the effects these changes may have on our businesses and personal finances. Hopefully, this article will help.

At the end of the article is a 21 point check lists illustrating the practical strategies that could be employed now in order to see you and your business through the change processes that we face. The old adage “be prepared” is still valid:

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

-Benjamin Franklin

Whilst it always pays to be positive, it’s also important to be realistic and start putting together a plan B.

Download Our 21-Point Checklist

Find out how to avoid the downfalls of BREXIT for your business and personal finances.

What happens next?

72% of those qualified to vote actually voted. Of those who voted, 52% voted to leave the EU and 48% to remain. As the result was decided by a simple majority of those who voted, the UK electorate has a confirmed that they want to leave the EU.

Although this result is a strong incentive for government to start the process of disengagement from Europe, it does not mean that from 6am, 24th June 2016, we are no longer paying members of the EU. Our membership and responsibilities will continue until the legal process is concluded by our elected representatives.

So what happens next? 

In his resignation speech, David Cameron said:

“A negotiation with the European Union will need to begin under a new prime minister and I think it’s right that this new prime minister takes the decision about when to trigger Article 50 and start the formal and legal process of leaving the EU.” 

In other words, our membership will continue with no change until David Cameron’s replacement is found and he or she formally applies to the EU under Article 50 to leave. This will likely be in the autumn, shortly before the Conservative’s Annual Conference. It should be noted that the European Commission has been quick to respond, they will be pressing for a faster disengagement to minimize uncertainty. 

What is Article 50? The next section explains…

What happens next?

Article 50 is reproduced below:

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.08.33 pm

Basically, this sets out the legal framework for the UK’s disengagement from Europe. Until this Article is triggered, and it can only be triggered by a member state, the formal process of negotiation to leave the EU cannot start. Once started, it needs to be concluded within 2 years unless both parties agree to an extension of this deadline.

If the new leader/prime minister is in post for the 1 October 2016 (2 days before the Conservative’s annual conference begins), and if the formal application to leave is lodged in accordance with Article 50 at the same time, then we should expect to be disentangled from our European partners on or before October 2018.

If we are unlikely to commence legal proceedings for 3 months, why are the financial markets in such turmoil right now? The next section looks at this conundrum.

Uncertainty?

The standing of the UK in the financial markets is based on the opinion that the world’s currency, commodity and stock market traders have regarding the financial worth and wealth producing potential of the UK.

In order to reach a conclusion on these indicators, the markets crave certainty. They like the numbers to make sense, to stack up. Without certainty, the value of our companies and the price that our currency will be worth, compared to other currencies, becomes a guessing game.

The decision on 23 June 2016, to leave the EU, has removed some of the certainty regarding our ability to balance our books and trade effectively in the world economy. Until we are ex-members of the EU, and until we have renegotiated new trade agreements with the EU and the rest of the major economies, this “market certainty” is likely to be an issue that will continue to unsettle the markets.

The day following the referendum, stock markets tumbled and then recovered somewhat, sterling’s exchange rate with the major currencies dropped, and then recovered somewhat. As such, there is no sign of an impending collapse in sterling or any long term downward trend in the global stock markets. Only time will tell if the short-term corrections will be recovered or sustained. Thus far, it’s steady as you go.

In some respects, the delay in appointing a new prime minister and starting the formal leaving process, will exacerbate uncertainty. The European Commission will be impatient to resolve the situation as the UK’s decision to leave affects the entire European project. It may also encourage other disaffected member states to lobby for a UK-type referendum.

However, to protect your interests, we have focused in this booklet on the ways in which these market reactions may affect your personal or business affairs. Our conclusions are set out of the following pages.

Download Our 21-Point Checklist

Find out how to avoid the downfalls of BREXIT for your business and personal finances.

How will my business be affected?

The factors that may affect businesses, especially smaller businesses in the UK, in the coming months are bullet-pointed below. Don’t forget that these are generalisations. Some may apply to your circumstances and some may not.

 If the sterling exchange rate settles at a lower level the cost of imported goods will rise and our exporters may benefit as their goods and services will be priced lower in overseas buyer’s markets.

 If the rising cost of imports triggers inflation the Bank of England may have to step in and increase interest rates. This will increase the cost of borrowing; business profits will suffer as will cash flow.

 An alternative scenario is also possible. The Bank of England may reduce interest rates to encourage investment and lower the cost of borrowing for UK businesses and home owners.

 Firms that trade in the property sector will need to keep a weather eye on demand as buyers may be discouraged by the overall uncertainty about the longer term outlook for interest rates. As a consequence, we may see the property market flat-line or prices fall.

 Uncertainty may encourage banks and other lenders to be more cautious when considering loans. Cash flow management should possibly shift towards the top of to-do lists, just in case there is downward pressure if credit does tighten up.

 Businesses and non-profit making enterprises that rely on EU funding should contact their funding agencies as soon as possible. Be prepared. Start looking for alternative funding now. Support for farmers and other key groups may be replaced by UK government grants.

 Businesses that trade with the rest of the EU will need to re-examine their sales and marketing strategy for the future. If and when the final EU curtain falls they will likely find their exports subject to tariffs. Time to start looking for alternative export markets or ways to increase penetration in the home market.

 Firms that are part of the supply chain for multinational concerns will need to be vigilant. Car manufactures, pharmaceutical companies, international banks and others, that have based their operations in the UK as a spring board to the EU markets, could possibly reconsider their options.

 If consumer demand in the UK hardens, the ability to pass on increased costs may become a problem for smaller businesses already coping with smaller margins and shrinking demand for their products and services.

 Finally, we may have face tax increases as the UK struggles to balance its books and repay debt. Should this happen, please refer to my last report on dividends tax planning. There are still plenty of ways to reduce tax without turning to aggressive tax schemes.

Businesses will need to be on their guard. Businesses and individuals should be watchful and stay positive. There are small business owners who would say that they were held back by EU regulation and will now be free to explore alternative markets. There are others that will be concerned by any loss of access to European markets. In any event, it pays to trim your sails if a storm is forecast, even if it blows over.

How will my personal finances be affected?

For the last 40 years, our financial institutions have been built inside an integrated European Union. As a nation, we will need to act quickly to re-establish this framework outside the EU. The following points flag up some the issues we should keep an eye on:

 As the banks adjust to the situation, credit may tighten up: it may become more difficult to obtain loans or mortgages. 

 In the short-term interest rates may fall, longer term they may rise. The latter will have an impact on debt repayment. 

 As the cost of imported goods will almost certainly rise, due to exchange fluctuations and as tariffs are imposed, the cost of the weekly shop will increase. 

Adverse movements in the sterling exchange rate will possibly increase the cost of imported oil and gas. If so, monthly utility bills may increase, as will the cost of filling up our cars. Time to look at hybrids or use public transport.

 Without increased government subsidy, rail, air and road transport costs may rise adding further inflationary pressures and increases in domestic expenditures.

 Employers, suffering from the same cost increases, will be reviewing recruitment and the cost of labour. We may see rises in unemployment and downward pressure on future pay increases. 

 If house prices do fall in the medium term, buyers should be cautious and ensure that their intended purchase is based on a realistic assessment of current market value. Negative equity – where loans to purchase are higher than market value – will become an unwelcome consequence for those who purchase in haste in a falling market. 

 If interest rates do fall, returns for savers could all but disappear. 

 This may be a good time to check out your credit rating. You should position yourself at the top end of the scale if you want to meet your family’s needs.

 Finally, austerity cuts may not be enough to balance the UK’s budget and pay off our national debts so we should be wary, future tax increases may be on the horizon.

Re-engaging with the rest of the world and renegotiating our exit with the EU is going to take some time and associated uncertainties will likely continue until they are resolved.

Time for caution and tightening of belts. 

Want to find out the best guidelines for avoiding the pitfalls of BREXIT?

Download our free 21-point checklists for your personal or business finances today…

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Download Our 21-Point Checklist

Find out how to avoid the downfalls of BREXIT for your business and personal finances.

personal-savings-allowance

Personal savings allowance update

By | Financial, Governments | No Comments

From 6 April 2016, the personal savings allowance (PSA) will allow basic rate taxpayers to receive up to £1,000 of savings income tax-free. For higher rate taxpayers, this limit will be £500. HMRC have published guidance setting out details of what counts as savings income and how the allowance will be calculated, including some useful examples.

Savings income includes account interest from:

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  • bank and building society accounts;
  • accounts with providers like credit unions or National Savings and Investments.

It also includes:

  • interest distributions (but not dividend distributions) from authorised unit trusts, open-ended investment companies and investment trusts;
  • income from government or company bonds; and
  • most types of purchased life annuity payments.

Interest from Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) does not count towards the PSA as it is already tax-free.

For further information on the PSA, see the GOV.UK website at here.

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landlords

Landlords’ replacement wear and tear allowance

By | Acquisitions, Financial | No Comments

Capital allowances are not available for expenditure on furniture and furnishings for use in dwelling houses. However, until 5 April 2016 (1 April 2016 for corporation tax) a deduction for wear and tear may be claimed (known as a ‘wear and tear allowance election’), equal to 10% of the ‘net rents’ from furnished lettings (ie after deducting payments that would normally be borne by the tenant, such as water rates). In addition, a deduction may be claimed for replacing fixtures that are an integral part of a building (eg central heating systems), but excluding additional expenditure on ‘improved’ versions of those items. However, replacing single glazed windows with double glazed units is treated as allowable repairs and not disallowable improvements.

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Many flats are let unfurnished due to the difficulties of complying with fire safety legislation.

In relation to expenditure incurred on or after 1 April 2016 (for corporation tax) and 6 April 2016 (for income tax), the former wear and tear allowance for fully furnished properties will be replaced with a relief enabling all landlords of residential dwelling houses to deduct the costs they actually incur on replacing furnishings, appliances and kitchenware in the property.

The new 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.

The amount of the deduction is:

  • the cost of the new replacement item, limited to the cost of an equivalent item if it represents an improvement on the old item (beyond the reasonable modern equivalent); plus
  • the incidental costs of disposing of the old item or acquiring the replacement; less
  • any amounts received on disposal of the old item.

This deduction will not be available for furnished holiday lettings as capital allowances continue to be available for them.

Note also that the renewals allowance for tools (under ITTOIA 2005, s 68) will no longer be available for property businesses from the same date.

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