150,000 landlords could have to pay higher tax bills as Budget changes take effect

A surprise tightening of tax relief for residential landlords in July will mean that many of those who rent out property and are locked into longterm mortgage deals would lose out, leading to rents to be increased reports The Times.

The move effectively treats rent as income, by removing residential landlords’ ability to deduct mortgage costs from their taxable income and replacing it with a less generous scheme.

The National Landlords Association has calculated that 146,121 landlords who are basic rate taxpayers would have their salary and rental incomes effectively added together, meaning that they would move into the 40 per cent tax bracket, which starts at income over £42,385.

Landlords who found themselves in the higher-rate tax bracket would, in many cases, also lose child benefit.

The government believes that this estimate is too high but would not say why. David Gauke, the Treasury minister, told MPs that it was impossible to calculate the figure. “The actual number of taxpayers affected will depend on behavioural changes and other economic factors,” he said.

Such a move would run counter to government policy. The Treasury is trying to reduce the number of people in the 40 per cent tax bracket by raising the threshold to £50,000 by 2020.

The move has caused concern among Conservative MPs. Stephen McPartland, the MP for Stevenage, said: “I think this is another policy whose full impact has not been completely understood. Many accidental landlords — a son or daughter who has inherited a family home — will now have the rent treated as income. This could push someone on an average wage into a higher tax bracket because the rent will now be considered income.”

Craig Mackinlay, a chartered accountant who fended off Nigel Farage to become the MP for Thanet South, said: “I accept that the buy-to-let market has caused problems. However, I’m concerned that this will hit certain people very hard, dragging potentially more than 100,000 landlords into a higher tax bracket, triggering child benefit removal and in some cases a very high marginal rate. It also risks penalising the taxpayer who has tried to do the right thing in making provision for his own future.”

The industry said that it has been warned off trying to seek changes to the policy because the chancellor was personally committed to the measure.

Richard Lambert, the chief executive of the National Landlords Association, said: “We don’t think that George Osborne has fully understood the impact on people who are natural Conservative voters and who feel they are not getting the support from the party they voted for and they thought understood their needs and aspirations.”

A spokesman for the Treasury said: “The current tax system supports landlords over and above ordinary homeowners and means for the wealthiest that for every £1 of finance cost they incur, they get 45p back from the taxpayer. We’re committed to creating a more level playing field for those who are buying a home to live in and are taking action to ensure that landlords with the largest incomes no longer receive the most generous tax treatment.

“We know that many hardworking people who have saved and invested in property depend on rental income they get, so are introducing this change in a proportionate and gradual way, phased in over four years from April 2017.

“Only one in five individual landlords will be affected by this change, which will help address unfairness in our taxation of property.”