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Tax Saving Tips for Jointly Owned Properties

Regardless of whether you jointly own a property with your partner, your friend, or a family member, there would hardly be anyone who isn’t interested in knowing how to save tax from the joint property. While the joint property might be a good source of passive income, the complicated taxation process can get a tad bit overwhelming for most.

In this article, you’ll receive exhaustive information on everything you need to know about tax-saving tips for jointly owned properties.

What is Joint Tenancy and Tenancy in Common?

First things first, let’s learn a little about what joint ownership of property means in England and Wales.

Joint ownership of property is largely categorized into two forms – joint tenancy and tenancy in common. Let’s take a brief look at each:

Joint Tenancy

In joint tenancy, both the owners are treated as having an equal share and equal rights in the property. If one of the owners dies, the part (half of the property) will be automatically passed on to the surviving partner.

For taxation purposes, each owner is treated as having an equal share in the property and its income. For example, you are a joint property owner of a house worth £100,000 along with your partner. The annual revenue generated from the property is £5,000 under joint tenancy. So, tax is calculated on the income of £2,500 for both owners. And, each property owner is taxed for half the capital gains generated from the property when it is sold. It is the standard followed for taxation for both spouses and other owners. 

Tenancy in Common

In case of tenancy in common, both joint owners are taxed on a predetermined share of the property.

For example, a person can own 40% of a property while his partner can own 60% of the same property. For computing taxes, each owner is taxed on the pre-fixed percentage in the tenancy in common. For civil partners and married couples, by default, the tax is determined on 50% of the share - regardless of whether the predetermined split is different.

Is it Possible to Change the Default 50 – 50 split?

We now know that the default split of share and income generated from joint ownership property is 50:50 for civil partners and married couples. You can change this equal default share by election. You’ll have to fill out Form 17 and submit the same to HMRC to make the changes in equal ownership. You can download the form from the Government publications website.

Form 17 can be used to declare beneficial ownership if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are in joint ownership with your spouse or civil partner and hold ownership in unequal shares.
  • You are permitted to receive the income generated from the proportion of shares. And you wish to be taxed on this basis.

However, it would help if you remembered that this request to change can’t be made retrospectively. It is possible to go to a maximum of 60 days before the form is filled, provided you had signed the documents.

You should also remember that you can’t declare unequal shares just for the sake of taxation. You should furnish actual beneficial ownership details in Form 17. Moreover, HMRC also requires proof of beneficial ownership – mostly a deed of trust.

For example, in Form 17, if you had declared a 10:90 income split between you and your wife, even though you are the 100% beneficial owner of the property, the election will be deemed invalid by HMRC.

Is it Possible to Change the Election Form 17 many times?

If you wish to change the beneficial ownership, you can change the split any number of times using Form 17. There is technically no limit to the number of times you can change the beneficial ownership split. However, every time you seek to change the division, you must prove a change in beneficial ownership.

How is Tax Calculated for Joint Owners other than Married Couples?

Unlike the case of married couples or civil partners, the income is not split into 50:50 terms for unmarried couples or independent partners owning joint property. So, such joint partners can decide to share the revenue in any manner they wish.

Suppose two independent partners own joint property, and they share the income in the 90:10 proportions. In that case, the tax will be calculated on the actual treatment even though the beneficial ownership split might be 50:50.

It might seem like Form 17 is not relevant for other joint owners. However, it is best if you had some proof to show the determined split of rental income. Additionally, it is also better to split the bank receipt to show that the rental income has indeed been split according to the agreed terms.

The income split and share in beneficial ownership concepts can get a wee bit confusing. Beneficial ownership of the property defines the proportion of joint property owned by you. This proportion is usually decided during property purchase time. If this share has to be changed later, Capital Gains Tax will also be computed as the change will be considered part disposal of property for tax purposes.

How to Save Tax by Transferring Beneficial Ownership Before Sale

Now that we have established that the beneficial ownership of property can be changed and transferred any number of times, we need to know how to achieve tax savings. To do that, you can start by transferring the property share to your spouse before the sale commences to achieve overall lower tax liability. It will work well only if done correctly.

The next important point to consider is whether the person the property is being transferred to – the transferee – is entitled to receive money from the sale. If the person is not beneficially entitled, then the transfer of the property share before the deal will be deemed invalid. Besides, you should work out the property details before agreeing to the property sale. It is always safer to make the property transfer before putting the property for sale in the market.

Wrapping Up

These were some tax-saving strategies if you jointly own a property with your partner, spouse, or others. With these strategies, you can save some money and protect yourself from a lot of tax-related stress. Although taxation is a complex concept for many, it is crucial to have basic know-how on taxes so that you don’t end up paying more than what you absolutely must. For Free Consultation call us on 020 3500 2646

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