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How to Reduce the Tax Bill on Your Home





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MPs aren’t the only ones who can play the system


Flipping


With the MPs’ expenses still very much in the news you may well have heard the term ‘flipping’, in relation to second homes.  It is a technique used to avoid paying Capital Gains Tax (CGT) by using ‘time to sell’ rules and the nomination of a property as a main residence.  Well you may be pleased to learn that this practice is not just reserved for those in positions of power – the great unwashed can do it too.
Now here’s the science behind it:

 

  • CGT is normally payable at 18% on any profit over and above the annual CGT threshold of £10,000
  • CGT is not payable when you sell your home that has been designated as your principal private residence (PPR)
  • Under “time to sell rules” (designed to help people in the last recession) you can move out of your PPR and still elect it as such for up to three years
  • Small time property developers can purchase a property, refurbish it whilst living there for a few weeks and nominate it as their PPR – therefore avoiding CGT when selling it on

Note that the CGT exemption only applies to the gain made on the property since it was registered with the taxman as your PPR.  Therefore, if you have lived in a property for many years, nominating the property as your PPR may not wipe out the entire CGT liability.  If you want to take advantage of this particular loop hole, you may have to hurry because in the wake of the MPs’ expenses scandal, accountants say that the rules may well change.


Stamp Duty


Unfortunately, the other major property tax, stamp duty, is rather more difficult to avoid.  This is payable when you purchase a property for over £175,000 – until 31st December 2009 at least, when the stamp duty holiday finishes and then it will once more revert to being payable on property transactions of over £125,000.  The tax is payable at 1% up to £250,000, at 3% up to £500,000 and at 4% on properties worth more than half a million pounds.  Apart from using the stamp duty holiday to avoid paying it, the only other way you can get a discount is to buy in a ‘disadvantaged area’ where the threshold is normally £150,000 rather than £125,000.


Rent a Room Scheme


In addition to be a valuable source of income, renting out a room in your home can also be very tax efficient.  In fact, under the Rent a Room scheme, you can receive up to £4,250 per year, tax free, from letting a room in your main residence.  To qualify for the scheme you must let furnished accommodation within your PPR and your lodger can rent anything from a single room to an entire floor.  However, if you have converted part of your property into a separate flat, you will no longer be eligible.  It is even possible to qualify for the scheme if you are not a homeowner, by renting out a room in the property that you rent.  Of course it goes without saying that you need your landlord’s consent to sub-let.