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Tax-free allowances on property and trading income

Posted by Ross Bramble on Aug 21st, 2018 | Tax

Row of housesTax-free allowances on property and trading income

In 2017, the government introduced two new annual tax allowances for individuals amounting to £1,000 each: one for trading income (sole trade), and one for income from a property business. The allowances aren’t available if you have such income from a private limited company.

The allowances were introduced on 6 April 2017 for the 2017/18 tax year and beyond, and mean that those with small amounts of income can simplify their personal tax arrangements in certain situations. If you have both types of income, you’ll get a £1,000 allowance for each.

What does this mean for individuals?

If you have small amounts of income from work as a sole trader or a property business (including renting out car park spaces), you don’t need to report the first £1,000 of income on your personal tax return.

If your income from trading or a property business is more than £1,000, the allowances can be used to reduce your taxable income. You can’t use the £1,000 allowance and, at the same time, claim tax relief for expenses. It’s one or the other. So you need to compare the amount of expenses you incur against the £1,000 allowance to see which is the most efficient.

Some examples of how to use the allowance, or whether to use it all, are shown below.

Example one – Trading income under £1,000

John earns £550 a year from being a self-employed handyman. As his income is less than the £1,000 allowance, he’ll be entitled to the full allowance and doesn’t need to include the income from this trading activity in his personal tax return.

Example two – Trading income over £1,000

Jess earns £1,550 a year from her self-employed photography business. She can use the full allowance to reduce her taxable income from this trading activity to £550 and includes the figure (£550) as income in her personal tax return.

Example three – Trading income – deciding whether to claim £1,000 or not

Lucy earns £20,000 a year from her self-employed film production business. If she uses the allowance, she can reduce her taxable income to £19,000.

However, Lucy also has expenses related to her business amounting to £5,000 and could use these to reduce her taxable income.

In this example, it’s not as tax efficient for Lucy to use the new allowance and she should continue to use her business expenses to reduce her taxable income.

Lucy includes £15,000 (income of £20,000 less expenses of £5,000) in her personal tax return.

With property tax income, those with a UK and overseas property business can choose how to allocate the allowance between the different businesses. However, using the allowances mustn’t create or increase a loss.

Example four – Property income – multiple properties

Geoff has an income of £1,500 from property A and £800 from property B. This results in a total of £2,300 in property income each year.

As his total income from property is more than the £1,000 allowance, Geoff can allocate £800 to property B and the remaining £200 to property A.

Geoff includes £1,300 (income of £2,300 minus the £1,000 allowance) in his personal tax return.

Exceptions to the rule

There are some exceptions where the allowances can’t be used, including:

  • Trades carried out in partnership aren’t entitled to use the allowance, as HMRC want to avoid adding extra complexity to existing partnership rules
  • Those who run ‘rent-a-room schemes’ won’t be entitled to claim the allowance as they’re not classed as relevant trades for the purposes of relief
  • Shares gained from a Property Authorised Investment Fund or a Real Estate Investment Trust aren’t allowed under this scheme.

Dedicated accountancy support

As always, it’s best to get specific advice on your situation from a qualified accountant. If you don’t already have an accountant, why not speak to Crunch and see how we could help.

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