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Property Taxes in the UK

A guide to property taxes in the UK: minimising tax burden for buyers and owners of property in the UK

How to Minimise Property Tax Burden in the UK

Every year more and more immigrants and foreign investors are buying residential and commercial property in the UK. The demand for land, houses and flats is growing because buyers from all over the world are attracted not only by safety and high living standards in the country with a stable economy but also by the opportunity to save and grow their capital.

However, both buyers and owners of property in the UK are subject to taxation. Although there are not many property taxes in the UK, they have a significant influence over purchase and investment decisions.

Imperial & Legal specialists will help you plan your taxes when closing property deals and minimise the tax burden. If you buy a flat or a house for yourself or invest in a buy-to-let, we can structure your deal most efficiently.

Below we review the main property taxes in the UK, which can be optimised if you consult Imperial & Legal advisors.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is paid by the purchaser of residential land/property located in England and Northern Ireland.

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) replaced the UK Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) in Scotland on 1 April 2015.

From 1 April 2018, Land Transaction Tax (LTT) replaced SDLT in Wales.

There are different rates of SDLT for legal entities and individuals. If it is a company buying residential property, it is charged an SDLT of 15% of the entire value of the property.

How much individuals are taxed depends on several factors: nationality of the buyer, the value of the property, type of ownership, number of properties, their location, etc.

 

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) rates in England and Northern Ireland for individuals

Purchase priceRates for first-time buyers (for residents)Rates for second-time buyers or buy-to-lets (for residents)Rates for non-residents*
Up to £125,00003%2%
Anything from £125,001 to£250,0002%5%4%
Anything from £250,001 to £925,0005%8%7%
Anything from £925,001 to £1.5 million10%13%12%
Anything above £1.5 million12%15%14%
* The SDLT rates for non-UK tax residents are 2% higher than those for UK tax residents. The rates apply to first-time buyers of residential properties in England and Northern Ireland who are not yet resident of the UK for taxation purposes.

Example of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) calculations

Alex has been living in London for 5 years and is a UK tax resident. He is a wealthy man and prefers to live in his flat, so he plans to buy a cosy loft in Greater London as the main residence. Alex will have to pay SDLT on the value of the flat, which costs £860,000. The SDLT will be calculated as follows:

  • 0% on first £150,000
  • 2% or £2,500 on the next £125,000
  • 5% or £30,500 on the remaining £610,000.

The total SDLT to be paid by Alex amounts to £33,000.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) Reliefs and Exemptions

There are certain reliefs and exemptions to Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). For example, if you buy multiple dwellings, there is no SDLT. If you purchase a freehold property, i.e. both a building and land, some types of land will not be taxed.

You can claim relief if you are a first-time buyer of residential property in the UK or buy into shared ownership where at least one owner is a first-time buyer. In this case you:

  • Do not pay SDLT on the first £300,000
  • Pay 5% for the share that costs £300,001 to £500,000.

The rules for standard and reduced SDLT rates in the UK change from time to time, so you need competent legal advice to ensure timely and full payment of taxes on the one hand and not overpaying on the other.

Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED)

ATED is an annual tax on enveloped dwellings. It is payable annually by companies that own residential property in the UK. Returns must be submitted and tax paid in April each year for the next ATED period that runs from 1 April to 31 March.

 

Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED) charges for 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022

Property value

Annual charge

£500,000 to £1 million

£3,700

£1 million to £2 million

£7,500

£2 million to £5 million

£25,300

£5 million to £10 million

£59,100

£10 million to £20 million

£118,600

Over £20 million

£237,400

The amount of tax that a company needs to pay is based on the value of the real estate on the purchase date or every 5 years after the purchase. If a property is let, the company can claim an ATED relief, but it needs to submit a tax return on letting proceeds and pay corporation tax to HMRC.

Historically, companies bought properties in the UK to optimise inheritance tax and capital gains tax. For this purpose, the dwelling was purchased in whole or in part through:

  1. Companies
  2. Partnerships where one of the partners was a company
  3. A unit trust or an open-ended investment vehicle.

However, such a tax reduction scheme was no longer available in 2017 after amendments to the tax legislation. Imperial & Legal advisors recommend their clients consider transferring ownership of property in the UK from companies to individuals.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

Capital Gains Tax (CGT) is a tax on the gains after selling a property (an asset) that has increased in value. Strictly speaking, it is not a property tax, but in most cases, you will have to pay it when selling land, a house, or a flat with a gain. It is 18% or 28% for the residential property depending on the size of your gain.

 

Capital Gains Tax (CGT) rates in the UK

Taxable income

Capital Gains Tax rates

£12,571 to £50,270

18%

Over £50,271

28%

UK tax residents pay CGT as part of an annual tax return. If you are not a UK tax resident, a CGT must be paid within 30 days from the disposal of the asset. According to new rules from 1 April 2017, companies owning residential property also need to pay a CGT.

There are certain exemptions as with other taxes within the UK law. For example, if you have lived in the old house for some time, you can reduce the amount of the tax paid or pay none at all.

You can learn more about saving on capital gains tax by consulting Imperial & Legal.

Council Tax

Council Tax is paid to a local council by any household, i.e. any type of real estate, a flat or a house. This tax applies to anyone occupying the property. Tenants are responsible for the Council Tax during the whole tenancy. The money is used to maintain the surrounding area.

The rate depends on the valuation band of your property and is calculated in a complex way for every home individually.

Some households, e.g. full-time students, don’t have to pay Council Tax. Moreover, you can also get a discount on a property that undergoes refurbishment or on an empty home.

Inheritance Tax (IHT)

Like the Capital Gains Tax (CGT), the Inheritance Tax (IHT) is not a property tax in its direct sense, but in most cases, you will have to pay it when dealing with inherited property.

It is 40% of the property’s value on the owner’s death. Spouses and unmarried partners of a diseased person do not have to pay this tax, but all other beneficiaries are liable for the full rate. The transfer of title is only possible after the tax is paid; unfortunately, heirs often have to sell the property to pay it.

In 2017, a new measure was introduced offering an additional nil-rate band when a residence is passed on death to a direct descendant. It only applies to a property which is included in the inheritance estate, and does not apply to a property owned by the deceased but never lived in by them, e.g. a house or flat for rent.

Your relatives can get a total tax-free allowance on the first £500,000 of your estate if:

  1. You leave your house or a flat to your children (including adopted, foster or stepchildren) or grandchildren
  2. Your inheritance estate is worth over £2 million.

Our company is a team of high-class advisors who will help you objectively assess your situation and prepare a detailed plan with options to minimise tax burden when you buy, sell, rent, lease or inherit real estate.

Imperial & Legal’s unique selling point is an individual approach which always results in a positive outcome. Our specialists keep track of all the changes in legal and taxation systems and know about new tax optimisation opportunities. You can contact us by calling or sending a message via an online form, and during a consultation, you will receive detailed recommendations about all your issues.

FAQ about Property Taxes in the UK

Which is a residential property in the UK?

A property is considered residential when it is used, or can be used, in whole or in part for living, such as a flat or a house. It also includes lands, gardens, and buildings adjacent to the residential property.

At the same time, according to the current legislation, some residential properties cannot be classified as dwellings, even if they are used for people to live in. It includes:

  • Hotels
  • Guest houses
  • Boarding schools
  • Hospitals
  • Student accommodations
  • Army barracks
  • Residential care homes
  • Prisons.

What are Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) rates in Scotland?

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) in Scotland is calculated in the same ways as the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) in England and Wales (rates are given for UK tax residents). First-time buyers do not pay LBTT on the first £175,000.

Purchase priceThe only home Second property or buy-to-let
Up to £145,00004%
£145,001 to £250,0002%6%
£250,001 to £325,0005%9%
£325,001 to £750,00010%14%
Over £750,00012%16%

What is Land Transaction Tax (LTT) in Wales?

According to the current legislation, Land Transaction Tax (LTT) has replaced Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) in Wales. The initial zero rate threshold is:

  • £180,000 for residential properties (if it is not a second property or buy-to-let investment)
  • £225,000 for non-residential land and property.

Rates depend on the value of the property and your circumstances, such as the number of residential properties you own (rates are given for UK tax residents).

Purchase priceThe only home Second property or buy-to-let
Up to £180,00004%
£180,001 to £250,0003.5%7.5%
£250,001 to £400,0005%9%
£400,001 to £750,0007.5%11.5%
£750,001 to £1.5 million10%14%
Over £1.5 million12%16%

Moreover, many things in the Welsh tax law can save you a lot of money when paying LTT on your land transactions. To understand these options, get in touch with our qualified specialists at Imperial & Legal.

Is Capital Gains Tax (CGT) payable on the sale of the main residence?

There is no Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on a property which is used as the main residence, under certain conditions. It is necessary to meet 5 requirements to claim this relief:

  1. You have only one residential property which is used as the main home
  2. You have not let any part of the property out (sharing it with a tenant is allowed)
  3. You have not used any part of your home exclusively for business purposes, for example as a shop or an office (using a room as a temporary or occasional office is allowed)
  4. The total area, including all buildings, is less than 5,000 square metres in total
  5. You did not buy aproperty just to make a gain.

If your property in the UK meets only some of these requirements, you may qualify for a partial CGT relief. Please contact our advisors to find out the exact amount of relief.

How can relatives avoid paying Inheritance Tax (IHT) at 40% of the value of a residential property?

If you leave a home to your spouse or unmarried partner, there is no Inheritance Tax according to the current legislation. It will be more difficult for other relatives to inherit property without paying taxes. However, if you leave your house to relatives, move out and live for another 7 years, there is no IHT for them. If you die within 7 years of giving away your property, relatives will have to pay IHT.

Of course, you can continue living in the property after transferring the title to your relatives; however, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  1. Pay rent to the new owner(s) at the market rate
  2. Pay your share of the bills
  3. Live in the house or flat transferred to your relatives for at least 7 years.

Is it possible not to pay rent on this property? Yes, but only if you transfer a part of your property to relatives and share it with the new owners.

Not sure what property tax you might need to pay?

Our experts have experience and knowledge to advise you on property-related taxes in UK and help you minimise tax burden when you buy, sell, rent, lease or inherit real estate.

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