Draft legislation has been introduced to restrict the way losses from residential investment properties can be used for tax purposes. It is possible the draft legislation will change as it works its way through the Parliamentary process, but its objective will remain.
That objective is to prevent rental losses being offset against other types of income to reduce the investor’s overall tax payable. The changes will take effect from the start of the 2020 income year – ie 1 April 2019 for most taxpayers.
We will be watching the progress of this draft legislation with interest. We expect the resulting law changes will have substantial implications for investors whose rental activities continue to generate losses, or whose future intentions – for example, changed debt or financing arrangements, acquisition of additional properties or planned repairs and maintenance expenditures – may result in negative rental returns in any given year. In a worst-case scenario the proposals have the potential to prevent residential rental losses from ever being used.
There are essentially three things an investor should do before these rules come into force on 1st April 2019:
Firstly, review the maintenance requirements on your buildings. If you are budgeting for repair work in the future that would be costly enough to create a loss in your portfolio, it may be sensible to consider undertaking this work in what remains of the 2019 tax year. You have only four months left to generate deductions that won’t be subject to ring fencing.
Secondly, if you are an investor with other business interests, consider booking a consultation to discuss the possibility of moving debts in your property entities to trading businesses. For example, you may have a trading company where you can refinance a shareholder loan account or you may have imputed retained earnings that have been reinvested in the business to date. Money could be borrowed in the business and used to pay out a dividend from retained earnings to shareholders who in turn use these funds to reduce debts in the property portfolio. The resulting interest costs in the business are deductible without being ring fenced and the property portfolio’s position is improved.
Thirdly, If you do have a loss making residential property portfolio, consider booking an appointment to examine the opportunity cost of retaining low yielding properties. If a property can be sold where more interest is saved through debt reduction than the lost rental income from the property the overall portfolio becomes more profitable, and now, more tax effective.
If you would like to know more about how these changes might affect you personally, please contact us for further information.