Taking Account

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Letting your own home

November 2008

It has been some time since we were given tax breaks for owning our own homes - remember MIRAS? (Mortgage interest relief at source - tax relief at basic rate, up to certain limits, was deducted from the mortgage interest we paid).

As a consequence we have to fund both interest and capital repayments out of our taxed income.

For instance you would need to earn over £1,000 per month as a 20% tax payer, or more than £1,300 per month as a higher rate tax payer, to pay £800 per month of mortgage interest.

As recession starts to bite and taking into account the difficult property market, we may consider letting either part or all of our homes. This article sets out a number of the tax considerations you will need to consider.

Rent-a-room relief

At present you can elect to claim this relief if you let out a room in your home. The following rules should be considered.

1. If you don't make such an election you will be taxed on the difference between the rents you charge and directly attributable costs (such as a proportion of gas, electricity, water and general rates, repairs and of course mortgage interest).

2. If you do make such an election you will be taxed on the difference between the total rents you receive and £4,250. Expenses are ignored.

(If your property is owned jointly the £4,250 will be shared between the partners, as will the rents.)

In most cases it will be necessary to work out the tax charge using both methods to see which is more beneficial.

If the rents received from letting a room are less than £4,250 per annum (£354.17 per month) the income is entirely tax free!

Letting your home

If you decide to move from your home and let the whole property the following points should be considered.

  • You will be taxed on the rents received less attributable costs. Costs will include mortgage interest paid.
  • As the property has been your principal private residence any gain that you make on subsequently selling the property will be tax free until you move out plus the last three years of ownership. Consequently if you do not let for more than three years there will be no capital gains tax to pay.
  • If part of the gain becomes taxable because of the property being let as residential accommodation, then you can also make a claim for lettings relief of up to £40,000. The relief is available to both owners if property is jointly owned including married couples or civil partners.

You should also be mindful in both these situations that letting or part letting of the property may be prohibited by your mortgage lender.

Hilton Sharp & Clarke