December 5, 2019 Last updated December 4th, 2019 188 Reads share

Guide to Purchase Buy-to-Let Property Tax Efficiently

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Guide curated by specialist Property Accountants on buying buy to let property tax efficiently

With the price of the property on the rise, the home of your dreams might seem out of your reach. But perhaps it’s achievable with a tax-efficient contribution from your company and some tax-saving tips from your property accountants.

Company-provided accommodation

If you want to move home but can’t quite afford the asking price for the new “des res”, one option would be to get your company to buy it, assuming it has the resources. It can then let you live in it, but there will be a huge benefit in kind (BiK) tax charge for you and a NI charge for your company.

When it comes to selling the property capital gains tax will be taxed on any gain it makes, whereas if you had owned it, capital gains tax private residence relief would mean that any gain would be tax-free. 

First alternative – a loan

An alternative would be for the company to make a low or interest-free loan to you to buy the house. This arrangement would also be a taxable BiK. For example, a £75,000 loan would result in a taxable BiK for each tax year the loan was outstanding. Although, of course, if you repay any of the loans the tax charge reduces in proportion. The company would also have to pay NI at 13.8% on the amount of the BiK. And that’s not the end of the story; the company would have a corporation tax (CT) bill linked to the loan. It is always advisable to speak to an accountant who understands your specific situation before making any tax planning decisions.

Temporary tax cost

If your company lends money to you, it will have to pay a one-off CT payment equal to 32.5% of the loan (or 25% if the loan was made before 6th April 2016). So in our example of a loan of £75,000 that would be £24,375. The good news is that you can make a claim to have this tax refunded following the end of the accounting year in which the loan is repaid. There are different procedures for claiming if you claim before or after 2 years, speak to your property accountant or accounting firm to find out how you can claim the tax back.

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Second alternative – joint ownership

Alternatively, your company could buy a share in the house. There’s nothing HMRC can do to stop you and your company from jointly owning a property for a potential tax saving. The joint purchase should be made as tenants in common. This means that each owner has an identifiable share of the property value, e.g. 70%/30%. But importantly as a tenant in common, you’ll have the right to use 100% of the property 100% of the time, even if you own only a small share of it without any major consequences. If the property you purchase is let out you will need to make sure the tax liabilities are split correctly as per the ownership and a self-assessment for each individual is submitted as required by HMRC.

Related: Read our comprehensive guide to Self-Assessment to learn more about how it works.

Tenant in common issues?

It’s been suggested that where a company co-owns a property with one of its directors that their right to occupy it is entirely down to their interest as a tenant in common. If that’s correct it would stop HMRC from being able to make the type of tax charge mentioned in the first paragraph above. Unfortunately, this is a tricky argument and we think HMRC would probably win. But there can still be a tax advantage. Again we are not advising or recommending anything and recommend you to speak to your accountant before making any decisions.

Tip: Keep the company’s share of the property below £75,000. At this level the taxable BiK will usually be around 3% to 4% of this amount, i.e. £2,250 to £3,000. That’s around £1,000 less than if the company just lent you the money. And unlike a loan, there’s no one-off 32.5% tax charge for the company.

Trap. The company will be liable to tax on a proportion of any gain made when the property is sold.

Thao Le

Thao Le

Thao Le is a Senior Accounting Manager at Clear House Accountants. Having worked and grown in the industry for a number of years she is now responsible for a team of accountants, tax planners and bookkeepers, working with them to help clients from a variety of industries, grow, save money and plan for the future. Thao holds a Bachelor and Masters degree in Accounting and Finance and is currently working towards her ACCA, she is also a Xero and Quickbooks Certified Advisor. Thao believes her expertise lies in high-level tax planning, management accounting and strategic business planning based on financial performance and business analytics. Her experience, expertise and knowledge make her an exceptional contributor at clear house towards various articles and research content.

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