Will Making Tax Digital Be A Boon Or A Bust For Landlords In 2020?


The delay of implementation of HMRC’s Making Tax Digital system, TheHouseShop.com decided to investigate how much time and money this plan will cost landlords when they will be affected in 2020.

Most landlords, self-employed people and small businesses are already being made aware of Making Tax Digital changes to how they pay their Income Tax. In 2018 businesses, including landlords, with an annual turnover above the VAT threshold of £83,000 will have to use the new system and subsequently it will roll out to all businesses, the self-employed and landlords with an annual turnover above £10,000 from 2019.

The government claims that this new method of paying tax will be easier and less complicated, giving them the ability to access their account and budget accordingly. However, TheHouseShop.com wanted to work out how much the new digital quarterly tax system will impact on landlords time, should they choose to file their self-assessment returns themselves, and what the financial impact would be for landlords who instead choose to hire an accountant.

How valuable is a landlord’s time?

Landlords are constantly faced with the time vs money dilemma, based on an annual rental income of £30,000, the value for 1 hour of a landlord’s time would be £16.48.

According to FixedFeeAccountants.co.uk, if the landlord has maintained their financial records in a spreadsheet, it should take them no more than 3 hours per quarter with a total of 8-10 hours a year, with an extra 3-4 hours to record their other sources of income such as PAYE, interest on savings and dividends etc.

Nick Marr, Co-Founder of TheHouseShop.com,

“The frequency of making quarterly payments is quite excessive and could definitely be a serious barrier to some landlords, especially those private landlords who are already under a lot of pressure managing multiple properties independently.”

“It is clear to see a direct result of Making Tax Digital is an increase in the cost of accountant’s fees as well as the extra costs for the accountancy software packages, which will be yet another squeeze on landlord’s profits. Even though the government are claiming that this new tax system will help landlords know more about their tax payments, it will end up costing them a lot of money should they choose to use an accountant.”

“Although attempts and plans to make paying and recording tax simpler and more accessible to people are always appreciated, the free software package the government are saying they will be providing must be straightforward and effective for landlords to feel the benefit of the changes.”

HMRC have announced that in order to make the implementation of Making Tax Digital as painless and straightforward as possible, they will be rolling out a free accounting software programme for landlords and others to use. They claim that they will be able to download an app that can link to their bank account to upload their finances on a regular basis, minimising the stress and administration involved in processing their quarterly self-assessment tax returns.

However, according to the accountants TheHouseShop.com contacted, it’s not as easy as it sounds to use an accounting software package and landlords risk hefty fines from HMRC for even minor mistakes.

Gurpreet Sandhu, Chartered Accountant, 3 Wise Bears, commented on the potential impact of Making Tax Digital

“It’s complicated to know what will be required from landlords when Making Tax Digital comes into effect in 2020. There has been very little information provided by the government regarding the modernising of the current tax system, but what’s almost certain is the requirement for quarterly returns to be submitted during the year plus an end of year declaration which will mean a lot of administrative effort being made from accountants.”

“We expect the workload to increase by 3-4 times greater than it currently is in order to file a self-assessment tax return when Making Tax Digital comes in. This will greatly depend on the type of software solutions available and how easy it will be to use and transfer a client’s report into.”

“When Making Tax Digital comes in we expect the total costs excluding software to be 2 – 4 times more than now, I expect when we know what we have to do, we will try to make the process as efficient as possible for clients. .”

  • Current costs for a one property tax return are £250 – £300 with approx £50 – £100 per extra property
  • Costs could potentially rise to 2-4 times more than what they are now
  • This would mean an estimated cost of £100 – £150 per quarter looking at £650 – £850 per year

On the outset, Making Tax Digital isn’t looking too good for landlords, either they choose to spend more of their precious time on managing their self-assessment payments or, they spend more of their rental income on accountancy costs in order to save time. Not only will landlords need to spend more with an accountant once the new system is brought in, they will also need to spend money on the accounting software on top. Essentially what it boils down to is the age-old dilemma – time vs. money – and landlords are going to have to choose which road to take.

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