Please Note: This Article is 2 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

An HMRC campaign to encourage landlords to voluntarily disclose any tax they owe on their rental properties has only managed to recoup a small percentage of its original target.

Announced in 2013, the let property campaign estimated that up to 1.5m landlords had underpaid or failed to pay up to £500m in tax between 2009 and 2010.

But, via a freedom of information request, chartered accountant Saffery Champness has discovered that since then only 58,779 people – 3.9% – have made voluntarily disclosures to HMRC, despite a recent increase.

The amount of tax yield recorded by HMRC from these disclosures is £163m, or just under a third of the expected haul.

There were 16,318 disclosures in 2018-19, an increase of 147% from the previous year, while this fell by 55% to only 7,362 disclosures in 2019-20.

Offer to pay

One of the campaign’s conditions is that once a taxpayer has informed HMRC of any previously undisclosed relevant income, gains, tax and duties, they have to make a formal offer to pay the full amount owed.

Saffery Champness partner Zena Hanks believes legislative changes may have unsettled landlords who were unsure of their new tax position.

She says: “The spike in the number of disclosures in 2018-19 may reflect the emerging threat of requirement to correct penalties, which began to be levied on undisclosed foreign property rental income as of 1st October 2018. It may also be a consequence of the property tax changes that have been introduced in recent years.”

Hanks adds: “The most common reason that was cited for disclosing to the campaign was taxpayer failure to notify HMRC of liabilities in the first place, which is likely a reflection of the fact that many of these landlords may have been unaware that they owed anything at all.”

Please Note: This Article is 2 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.


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