How to declare property income
While renting out your property to tenants can be a very profitable business, you need to know that you do not get to keep all the income. Legally, you are required to declare the income that you get from your property even if you are just renting out a small unit to a student. Although it’s required by law, many people still decide not to declare their rental income. Not declaring your rental income is not worth the risk since if you get audited by the government you will have to pay the tax on the income. You are also likely to pay penalty on interest on the tax that you were required to pay.Find out more
How can HMRC found out about rental income?
Apart from using very sophisticated computer systems, HMRC has a variety of tools at their disposal with connections to the public databases such as the Electoral Roll and the Land Registry. They also regularly carry out tip-off campaigns and even pay huge rewards when any undeclared tax is finally found. They’ve even put in place tax amnesty that they give to those who come voluntarily.
Another important trick that they use is obtaining information from third parties. For instance, they normally write to letting agents and estate agents instructing them to submit the names and addresses of all the properties on their books. This means many landlords who are not declaring their property income are likely to receive letters from HMRC.
How to declare property income
One method that landlords can use is taking advantage of Let Property Campaign and pre-empting the HMRC correspondence. Let the Property campaign is among the honesty programs that are currently being run by HMRC. According to this campaign, if the landlord comes forward and discloses undeclared income then HMRC will give him a much more lenient penalty. While most penalties are 10% they can even be as low as zero.
However, if the HMRC finds out about the income then the penalties can be between 15% and 100% depending on the conduct of the landlord. Let Property campaign is, therefore, a very important tool that can help the landlord to update their tax information. Since it will not always be there, landlords are advised to take advantage of it while it’s still there.
How to go about it
First, you need to alert them that you want to participate in this program by filling a form and calling their helpline. Once you’ve done this, they will give you 3 months determine and settle what you owe. By doing this, you may not have to pay any penalty but in case you do, it’s likely to be lower than what you would pay if HMRC finds out themselves. Thankfully, HMRC has Let Property Campaign calculator that can greatly help you work out what you owe them. However, if you need to disclose more than 5 years then there is a different calculator.
It’s also advisable to use an accountant so has to ensure that you have someone on your side when you are negotiating with them and make sure you are claiming the right expenses and reliefs. Although it can be tempting not to declare the income, the law requires you to do so.
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