There are various tax advantages to a rental property being treated as a furnished holiday letting, but inheritance tax (IHT) business relief is generally not one of them. Even though the law supports HMRC’s view, property owners regularly appeal against their refusal to give relief.
The tax advantages
The most immediate benefit is full tax relief for finance costs. For normal rentals, relief is restricted to the basic rate, so a higher-rate taxpayer with a £250,000 mortgage at an interest rate of 2.5% will receive extra tax relief of £1,250 annually.
When it comes to disposing of a property, business asset disposal relief and holdover relief will be available.
Some £225,000 in IHT was at stake in the recent appeal by the executors appointed by Sheriff Graham Loudon Cox against business relief being denied. Although the late taxpayer worked hard to ensure guests enjoyed their stay in his three furnished holiday flats, the First Tier Tribunal dismissed the appeal, finding that there was nothing exceptional about the business to elevate it beyond being one of mainly investment.
And that is the essential problem. The level of additional services provided must be sufficient that the activity is considered as non-investment. This needs to be more than just:
- providing heating and hot water;
- a welcome pack; and
- being on call to deal with queries and emergencies.
These are considered as simply incidental or ancillary activities. The extra services which would have helped the appeal, such as dog-sitting, childminding, transport, breakfast and supper, were not provided to guests with sufficient regularity. Owners of holiday lets could consider making use of the CGT reliefs by gifting furnished holiday property to the intended beneficiaries during their lifetime. The property then drops out of charge to IHT after seven years.