HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has confirmed its crackdown on buy-to-let landlords through its Let Property campaign has resulted in a surge in capital gains tax receipts, according to reports from accountants.
HMRC had been aware that there was a problem for some time, estimating that as much as £550 million was currently underpaid by rental landlords each year. In order to address the issue HM Revenues and Customs launched the Let Property Campaign in October, 2013, to encourage landlords to approach the tax authority directly and declare previously undeclared rental income.
It would appear from the figures obtained by accountants that HMRC’s tax inspectors have had some success in recouping some of the money owed.
So far £136m has been recouped as a result of probes into underpayments of capital gains tax during the 2013-14 tax year. Although this figure is some way short of the estimated £500 million outstanding, it still represents a 24% increase in unpaid tax retrieved on the 2012-13 figures.
HMRC are obviously pleased with the results obtained so far: a spokesman for the tax authority said “[the] enquiries are [proving] extremely effective as these figures show.” However, it is aware that there is still much more to be done if the full amount outstanding is to be recovered.
The rise of property prices in the UK has fuelled increased profits for buy-to-let investors in recent months, but there is still a suspicion that thousands are unaware that they have any capital gains tax due or are simply bending the rules and undervaluing their capital gains. According to HMRC’s figures just under 500,000 taxpayers are registered with the tax authority as owning a second property, but HMRC estimates that the true number of second property landlords is closer to 1.5 million. It is therefore fully focused on tightening the net and identifying those second property owners who have so far failed to register.
Capital gains tax receipts have generally been growing strongly over the last few years, principally due to tougher enforcement action. The latest figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) suggests the CGT take for 2012-13 was £3.9bn but this is expected to rise to £6.7bn in 2015-16 and exceed £9bn in the 2018-19 tax year.
But what about landlords? What sort of expectations can they look forward to in the coming years?
Well, the prospects don’t look too bright according to David Lawrenson, of lettingfocus.com. He believes it will become increasingly hard for landlords to limit capital gains tax:
“Under previous tax regimes landlords had taper relief and other reliefs which took some account of inflation,” said Lawrenson. “[Unfortunately] there are no reliefs available now that take inflation into account.”
If you’re unsure whether the Let Property Campaign applies to you, then you might want to take a look at HMRC’s useful questionnaire to inform your judgement. Alternatively, if you would like expert help dealing with HMRC, then you should speak to Steven Glicher accountants. We can deal with all matters, from registration to calculation of your income and completion of your returns. We can also liaise with HMRC on your behalf and deal with any necessary correspondence. We can even review your affairs and ensure that you are trading using the right structure, whilst claiming all the expenses you’re entitled to. For further information call Steven Glicher accountants on 0161 485 8007 or email info@