Fergus Wilson Panorama documentary – now available on iPlayer22:10 PM, 18th March 2019
About 19 hours ago 74
With so many buy to let property investors now considering buy/refurb/sell deals I feel the time is right to explain the tax treatment of property development vs property investment.
For example, did you knowthat buy/refurb/sell deals are taxed as a trade (property development) and CGT annual exemptions can not be claimed on disposal?
This topic arose recently as two of my readers contacted me for advice which resulted in the three of us paying a visit to my accountants to clarify matters for them. Please note that I am not a tax adviser.
The couple are in the process of buying a property for £120,000 and will spend a further £20,000 refurbishing it in the hope that it’s end value will be £165,000 which equates to a profit of £25,000. Added to this, the property has an oversized garden which may be split to create a building plot. If planning permission is obtained for that plot the profits will be significantly higher.
Whilst I was with this couple we ran the figures though this due diligence calculator which suggested that the property was not a good one to hold onto long term. Based on purchasing the property for cash and refinancing onto a buy to let mortgages after 6 months at 75% LTV the cashflow (after allowing for all running costs) amounted to a loss of £10 a month. Interest rate increases would obviously increase the losses.
If the plan doesn’t involve renting though, the couple will need to register with CIS (the Construction Industry Scheme) and be responsible for the tax treatment of their contractors. They would also be taxed as a trade (property developers) as opposed to property investors. This would mean that profits would be taxed as income as opposed to capital gains. In their case, as they don’t use their capital gains tax exemptions elsewhere, this would mean losing £21,600 of tax exemptions between them as well as taking on the hassle of CIS.
For obvious reasons they made a simple commercial decision and will let the property for at least six months prior to selling it. This will make it an investment. Also, it will give them time to split the deeds of the land and to seek planning consent on the newly created plot. It they go on to sell both the property and the plot these will both be taxed as investments. if they time the sales right they may even be able to sell them in two separate tax years and get £42,200 of CGT exemptions in the process. Obviously this is well worth losing £10 a month on the rental cashflow and the accountancy fees they have paid.
They could develop the plot of land themselves but again this would be taxed as property development and require them to obtain CIS registration. Therefore, they will need to do some careful thinking before they decide whether to sell the land as an investment with planning consent vs developing it and potentially losing the CGT exempt allowances AND taking on the tax issues of their contractors under CIS.
The above case study is an absolutely classic case of why people need to take professional advice. Far too many people choose to save a few hundred pounds in fees and end up paying £1,000’s in avoidable tax as a consequence of penny pinching. Sometimes they can also land themselves in big trouble with the tax man too.
This article is provided for guidance only and does not constitute financial advice. I strongly recommend that you take advice from suitable qualified professionals with Professional Indemnity Insurance. If you would like me to introduce you to my own trusted contacts please drop me an email outlining your circumstances in as much detail as possible and include your contact details. My email address is email@example.com – I do not charge for this service – read why here
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