Transferring your properties to a Limited Company
Written in December 2016 and updated November 2019
As a Landlord, would I be better off transferring my properties to a Limited Company?
In recent years, the buy to let market has been subjected to a number of punitive changes that have been introduced by the UK Government, culminating in a key development back in 2017 which saw higher rate tax relief on mortgage interest starting to be phased out. Now in 2020 we are close to the end of this period with only basic rate tax relied being available from April 2020. This potential relief was a big incentive for investors who were considering entering the buy to let market.
So what does this actually mean for you as a buy to let investor?
We take a look at the circumstances in which incorporating your property business could be worth your while.
Why should I be looking at this?
If as a landlord you hold property personally in your own name or jointly, then currently you are taxed on profits (income minus expenses) at your marginal rate of up to 45% regardless of whether you actually withdraw any money from your business. As mentioned above, from 2017 landlords (whether or not they are joint owners)who hold BTL property in this way were no longer be able to benefit fully from higher rate tax relief on any finance costs.By way of comparison, landlords who currently hold properties through a limited company currently pay Corporation Tax on their profits at the rate of 19%. Therefore, this could mean that choosing to become incorporated (i.e. holding your properties through a company) could result in a more tax-efficient option for landlords who are higher rate taxpayers.
Ok – great but where’s the catch?
Before you rush out and incorporate, there are a number of key things that you need to be aware of:
- When you transfer your rental properties to a company they will then belong to your company and you will no longer own them personally. Instead, you will own shares in the company. But you generally can’t mortgage an asset you don’t own and your mortgage company may well not agree to transfer their mortgage over to a limited company. You would probably need to pay off the existing personal mortgages and take out new commercial ones so that your company could then buy the properties from you at market value. Commercial mortgages tend to be more expensive (higher rates of interest)than personal ones so the increase in monthly finance cost could offset part of the tax saving.
- Capital Gains Tax (CGT) would probably need to be paid on any gain you may make when you sell to the company but you may be able to avoid this by using something called “Incorporation Relief” to defer any CGT. You will need to check carefully that your circumstances are such that you would qualify for this relief to avoid an immediate large CGT bill when you incorporate.
- Don’t forget about Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) too which would will probably have to be paid based upon the open market value of your properties which are being transferred – again, this is another large initial financial outlay to consider.
So should I become incorporated or not?
At THP we recognise that this is a big decision and entirely dependent on personal circumstances. There are many tax traps to consider and if you get it wrong and fail to complete all the paperwork correctly it could cost you dearly.
We have now written a complete new section on our website for BTL Landlords and you can find this here:- Making Buy-to-Let More Profitable
This includes more detailed information on transferring properties to Limited Companies or buying new investment properties using a Limited Company which you can find here:- Should I transfer my BTL properties into a limited company?
Once you are an existing Personal Tax client of THP and we have prepared at least one Tax Return on your behalf, you will be able to benefit from our comprehensive tax planning services for Landlords.
About Jon Pryse-Jones
Since joining THP in 1978, Jon Pryse-Jones has been hands on with every area of the business. Now specialising in strategy, business planning, and marketing, Jon remains at the forefront of the growth and development at THP.
An ideas man, Jon enjoys getting the most out of all situations, “I act as a catalyst for creative people and encourage them to think outside the box,” he says, “and I’m not afraid of being confrontational. It often leads to a better result for THP and its clients.”
Jon’s appreciation for THP extends to his fellow team members and the board. “They really know how to run a successful business,” he says. He’s keen on IT and systems development as critical to success, and he continues to guide THP to be at the cutting edge and effective.