The Association of Taxation Technicians have bucked the trend of widespread criticism of proposed tax reforms for landlords, although with at least one reservation.
Practically every lettings organisation in the country seems to have spoken out against Chancellor George Osborne’s bundle of tax changes set to affect landlords but, some say fairly predictable, the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) has gone the other way.
Yet, whilst publicly supporting the planned replacement of the allowance for wear and tear in favour of offering tax relief covering the price of replacing furnishings, the group has still expressed concern about one aspect of George Osborne’s planned reform.
As it stands, under the chancellor’s proposal, the current allowance for wear and tear will be replaced from April 2016 with tax relief allowing landlords to deduct the actual costs of replacement furnishings.
According to Mr Osborne, this measure will result in more fairness and consistency when it comes to the taxation of landlords and residential property businesses.
The chairman of the Association of Taxation Technicians’ Technical Steering Group, Paul Hill, says that the new policy of tax relief should remove the ambiguity surrounding the current system.
At the moment, he says, the system that was first introduced in 2013 means that tax relief can only benefit those landlords letting out fully furnished properties, meaning that it can be difficult for landlords to know whether items provided in homes are enough to make it fully furnished or not.
Yet, the charitable body that is the ATT is still concerned about the proposal by HMRC to make any ‘improvement element’ of the replacement of items in a rental property exempt from attracting the proposed tax relief.
The ATT bills itself as the top professional body for people who are providing tax compliance services in Britain but does not seem to be advocating unquestioning compliance in this instance – until the new rules are introduced, at least.
Mr Hill says that this aspect of the proposed changes could result in ‘complexity and confusion’ and will result in landlords needing detailed guidance from HMRC in order to fully understand how this improvement rule needs to be applied.
There is no doubt that the issue could prove to be a complex one. In the ever-changing retail market, for example, landlords may face the issue of simply not being able to replace items like-for-like, especially when technology is involved.
It may also be that, in some circumstances, technological advancement may not necessarily mean increased costs. In the case of white electrical goods, for example, a more technologically-advanced modern model, may actually prove to be cheaper than the original, inferior item. Would this, therefore, still be classed as an improvement?
Mr Hill believes that comprehensive guidance is required to clarify how the new regulations would apply if this sort of situation were to arise and points out that such guidelines would need to be maintained in order to continue to be relevant in an ever-changing environment.