Q I understand that I may now have to pay tax on my residential property income after the recent budget changed the rules on interest relief. Could you clarify the change? I own some buildings with mixed use. Does the change still apply?
A. The change that I think that you are referring to is the restriction on the extent to which interest on loans taken out to purchase, improve or repair a rented premises can be deducted in computing the amount of taxable rental income. The previous rule was that 100 per cent of such interest could be deducted. The new rule on loans used to purchase, improve or repair residential premises is that 75 per cent of the interest on such loans can now be deducted.
There are a few other things to bear in mind as a result of the above
— In many cases, landlords own mixed use developments. The legislation provides for a just and reasonable apportionment of interest in the case of mixed residential and non-residential premises. You will need to split the acquisition cost between the two parts and apportion the interest. You might already have this information from when you acquired the property. If not you will need to get a valuer to prepare the split based on market values at that time and not today’s market values
—The restriction applies to all residential property loans irrespective of the date when the money was borrowed and used. In other words the restriction applies to all interest accruing on or after Budget Day (7 April 2009 )
— In a situation where a person has a site and enters into a contract for the construction of a dwelling, the combined cost of site acquisition and construction is treated as being incurred on the purchase of residential premises so the restriction applies to the full amount of the loan finance.
In conclusion, It is not correct to say that you will definitely have to pay tax. You may have to pay tax depending upon whether you have an excess of rent over other rental expenses including interest (as restricted ) on your total portfolio. Even if you do, then like many other residential property investors, you may have invested in section 23 or section 50 types of properties so you still may have your losses forward from these investments to cover any rental income that you may have. The net effect in this circumstance is that you will be using up your rental shelter more quickly than you originally intended.