HMRC is ratcheting up its ongoing crackdown on tax evasion with its latest focus on landlords who let out residential property, whether at home or overseas, and Mike Harrison, Partner in accountant firm Saffery Champness says that rural landlords will be as much in the sights of HMRC as any other.
HMRC has been running an ongoing programme across a range of sectors, trades and professions to encourage disclosure, and the Let Property campaign now means that the onus is on landlords to bring their tax affairs up to date in exchange for reduced penalties.
The HMRC campaign will focus on landlords who rent out single or multiple properties or who rent out a room in their main home for more than £4250 per year (£2125 if the room is let jointly). The campaign will also target landlords who live abroad but rent out UK property, or vice versa, as well as those who rent out their holiday home when not being used by themselves, or who operate in specialist areas such as renting student accommodation or workforce accommodation.
Mike Harrison says: "The scheme, in line with other similar HMRC initiatives, is to encourage property owners and landlords to come forward voluntarily with information in exchange for a reduced penalty. It does not apply to companies or trusts and therefore a number of rural enterprises will be excluded; nor is it open to landlords renting out commercial property.
"Those not coming forward and who may not be declaring rental income can expect higher penalties and even criminal prosecution if HMRC chooses to launch an investigation. We would therefore encourage any residential landlord with any shred of doubt as to his obligations to consult with their professional advisor at the earliest opportunity."