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Monday, January 04, 2016

Landlords legal challenge misplaced

Landlords are rightly miffed by the latest changes proposed for the tax system which will restrict the amount of mortgage interest that higher rate tax payers can off set against their rental profits.

I have written before about the fact that from the Governments point of view that landlords are making record rental profits because of the low interest rate environment created by them.  The government therefore feels justified in claiming some of this back; even if it I think it will ultimately create anomalies in the tax system distorting future flows of capital into the rental sector.

Landlords trying to fight tax changes 

Latest reports in the press are that several high profile landlords are 'fronting' a crowd funding scheme to employ a solicitor to fight the latest tax changes.  The aim is to fight the so called 'clause 24' or section 24 in the 2015 Finance Bill bringing in the changes on the grounds that the changes flout : “a long-established principle of taxation that expenses incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the business are deductible when calculating the taxable profits”.  The fight is destined to fail as any half decent lawyer will tell you.  When it comes to tax, the Government can take what they want.  It does not have to be fair or be perceived to be just. It's just tax.

Landlords with a hidden agenda

Returning to the campaign which has been successful in one respect by generating a fair few column inches of newspaper copy.  A cynical old landlord such as myself would say it is as much about the backers gaining publicity for their respective businesses than there being any realistic chance of success.  Even better when you can get a whole load of naive but well meaning landlords to put their hands in their pocket to fund the whole publicity roadshow.

Landlords should save their money

Any landlords thinking of joining the campaign are better off totting up their rental profits since interest rates hit the floor in 2008 and then saving some of this money and putting it towards their increasing tax bills. That's just life I afraid.

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Anonymous said...

And you should add to your final conclusion that

they should increase rents charged accordingly. Tenants alone ultimately pay the price of legislation that makes it more expensive for them to rent.

That said, I for one am broadly in favour of not making cheap money available to landlords to increase borrowing. The change in stamp duty is far moire pernicious, hitting individuals who own some small amount of property but not their own home (they get penalised for being responsible and for saving).

As you say - tax does not have to be just. However I can decide where I wish to vast my vote, and as a longstanding Tory voter, I may just be shifting towards parties that don't wish to steal my money.

The Editor said...

You are right. The vote is a mighty sword. Landlords need to use it wisely. I suspect that the Tories will realise this in time for the next election.