Monday, 4 August 2014

Outbreak of common sense...

... at HMRC.

Spotted by MBK in The Telegraph:

The tax office has stepped up its scrutiny of landlords, sending letters to thousands of buy-to-let investors it suspects of bending the rules in order to pay less tax...

While HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has targeted property owners for three years, accountants said the past year had seen its approach toughened. It is understood that additional manpower has been deployed to hunt down the £500m underpaid each year. Tens of thousands of landlords are believed to be paying little or no tax on rental income and capital gains made on second properties...

Ten months on, the Revenue has begun gathering information from a wider range of sources, accountants said. Mark Giddens, a partner at UHY Hacker Young, said HMRC had gone beyond the Land Registry and the electoral roll.

“It was not until April this year that the taxman sent out notices to letting agents in which they asked for details to be provided of everyone on their books.

“The housing benefit payments that go direct to landlords are also being monitored more closely. This information can be obtained through the local council’s records. By investing all this time and effort they have certainty stepped up the pressure on landlords who are not declaring enough, and the letters are the next part of that.”

Lucy Brennan, a partner at Saffery Champness, the accountants, said officials at the Revenue had been turning to social media for information.

“Those who let out a holiday home will not be registered to vote at that address,” she said. “The Revenue has increasingly been using social media to look into cases where a holiday home is, for instance, being advertised to friends to ensure that the right amount of tax is being declared on that property.”

Fewer than 500,000 taxpayers are registered with HMRC as owning second properties. The taxman estimates that the true number of landlords is much higher, at around 1.5 million, and wants to close the gap.


mombers said...

It is a disgrace that HMRC have not used modern technology to cut landlord tax evasion. The 'bang for buck' of data mining the Land Registry, voter registration, income tax addresses, etc would be enormous. Throw in mining Rightmove et al and you could cut evasion right down. Those caught evading could probably raise enough in penalties to produce enough revenue to cover those not caught.

Lola said...

Yes, generally. But this is worrying:-

"It was not until April this year that the taxman sent out notices to letting agents in which they asked for details to be provided of everyone on their books."

Mark Wadsworth said...

M, L, I and plenty of others have been asking why HMRC don't this for years.

There are some kinds of tax evasion which are dead easy to track down and this is one of them, and morally justified at that.

Bayard said...

"why HMRC don't this"

Because BTL landlords are salt of the earth, sterling chaps. Why, they are almost gentry, not like those grubby little businessmen who are always swindling the taxman.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, that was the correct answer.

It's the Thatcherite dream, snap up some ex-council homes at a discount with a taxpayer-subsidised cheap loan from the semi-nationalised banks and then rent them back to the taxpayer.

And it's 'investment income' not 'self employment income' so clearly there's nothing grubby like National Insurance on it.