Guidance

Let property campaign: your guide to making a disclosure

Updated 12 June 2017

1. About the Let Property Campaign

1.1 Introduction

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) believes that its customers want to pay the right amount of tax and so wants to help those that aren’t paying the correct amount to put that right.

The Let Property Campaign is an opportunity for landlords who owe tax through letting out residential property, in the UK or abroad, to get up to date with their tax affairs in a simple, straightforward way and take advantage of the best possible terms.

If you’re a landlord and you’ve undisclosed income you must tell HMRC about any unpaid tax now. You’ll then have 90 days to calculate and pay what you owe. This guide explains how you can do that.

1.2 The scope of the Let Property Campaign

The Let Property Campaign is an opportunity open to all residential property landlords with undisclosed taxes. This includes:

  • those that have multiple properties
  • landlords with single rentals
  • specialist landlords with student or workforce rentals
  • holiday lettings
  • renting out a room in your main home for more than the Rent a Room Scheme threshold
  • those who live abroad or intend to live abroad for more than 6 months and rent out a property in the UK as you may still be liable to UK taxes

This campaign isn’t open to those landlords who are letting out non-residential properties such as a shop, garage or lock up. It also can’t be used by those wishing to disclose income on behalf of a company or a trust.

If you don’t know if you need to disclose unpaid taxes under this campaign use the Let Property questionnaire to help you decide.

1.3 Disclosures outside of the Let Property Campaign

You can still make a disclosure and put your tax affairs in order even if you’re not within the scope of the Let Property Campaign. Your disclosure won’t be part of this opportunity and the terms offered under the Let Property Campaign won’t be available.

If you make a full and voluntary disclosure of all unpaid liabilities in these circumstances you can usually expect a lower penalty than HMRC would otherwise seek if they raised an enquiry or compliance check without the disclosure.

If you want to make a disclosure of Inheritance Tax, trust or administration period liabilities please write to HMRC at:

Trusts & Estates Risk Team

HM Revenue and Customs
Ferrers House
P O Box 38
Castle Meadow Road

Nottingham
NG2 1BB

1.4 How to take part in the Let Property Campaign

To take part in the Let Property Campaign you should:

  • tell HMRC that you want to take part in the Let Property Campaign (Notify)
  • tell HMRC about all income, gains, tax and duties you’ve not previously told them about (Disclose)
  • make a formal offer
  • pay what you owe
  • help HMRC as much as you can if they ask you for more information

To benefit from the reduced penalties offered, HMRC will take account of the level to which you have helped them and the accuracy of the information you provided.

1.5 What’s in it for you

Unlike previous campaigns, there is no disclosure ‘window’ requiring you to disclose what you owe by a specific date. This campaign will be ongoing for some time; however, landlords intending to come forward who delay risk higher penalties if they are subject to an enquiry and they haven’t already notified an intention to disclose.

Regardless of whether the errors were due to misunderstanding the rules or deliberately avoiding paying the right amount it is better to come to HMRC and admit any inaccuracies rather than wait until HMRC uncovers those errors.

The Let Property Campaign offers the best possible terms available to get your tax affairs in order. You can take advantage of these by notifying your intention to participate and cooperating with HMRC to make a full disclosure and payment.

When you make your disclosure you can tell HMRC how much penalty you believe you should pay. What you pay will depend on why you have failed to disclose your income. If you have deliberately kept information from HMRC you will pay a higher penalty than if you have simply made a mistake.

You may not have to pay any penalty at all but if you do it is likely to be lower than it would be if HMRC finds out you haven’t paid enough tax.

Don’t worry if you can’t afford to pay what you owe in one lump sum, if your circumstances warrant it, you will be able to spread your payments.

If you registered for Self Assessment and completed tax returns within the appropriate time limits, but have simply made a careless mistake when declaring your income, you only pay for a maximum of 6 years - no matter how many years you’re behind with your tax affairs. If however you don’t come forward and HMRC finds later that you are behind with your tax, it may be harder to convince them that it was simply a mistake. The law allows HMRC to go back up to 20 years and in serious cases HMRC may carry out a criminal investigation.

This is an opportunity to stop worrying about what might happen; have certainty about what you owe and get things right for the future.

1.6 If you have undisclosed liabilities and choose not to disclose

HMRC is currently increasing its targeted compliance activity across all landlord types and will start to identify and write to landlords who they consider may not have declared all their rental income. This will involve HMRC carrying out compliance checks or enquiries to resolve matters. The customers involved won’t then be able to make use of the opportunity offered as part of this campaign.

HMRC will identify those who they believe should have made a disclosure by:

  • comparing the information already in their possession with customers’ UK tax histories
  • continuing to use their powers to obtain further detailed information about payments made to and from landlords

Where additional taxes are due HMRC will usually charge higher penalties than those available under the Let Property Campaign. The penalties could be up to 100% of the unpaid liabilities, or up to 200% for offshore related income. If you are disclosing any offshore liability, please contact the Let Property Campaign Helpline for further information.

In extreme cases HMRC may consider the instigation of a criminal investigation, in line with their criminal investigation policy.

2. How to notify and disclose

2.1 Notify

You must tell HMRC of your intention to make a disclosure. You need to do this as soon as you become aware that you owe tax on your letting income.

At this stage, you only need to tell HMRC that you’ll be making a disclosure.

You don’t need to provide any details of the undisclosed income or the tax you believe you owe.

You can tell HMRC about a disclosure you will be making:

  • about your own tax affairs
  • on behalf of someone else (for example if you are a tax adviser)

You can’t include details for more than one person on a disclosure. For example if a husband and wife both have undisclosed income to disclose they must complete separate disclosures showing the share of the income they need to disclose. HMRC need a separate notification for each disclosure.

Individuals and companies

Individuals and companies can notify by completing the DDS form. HMRC will write to you to tell you your unique Disclosure Reference Number (DRN). Use this whenever you contact them about the Let Property Campaign. You’ll also be given a Payment Reference Number (PRN) to use when paying what you owe.

Agents

Agents should use the digital disclosure service to notify HMRC of your clients disclosure. We’ll then send you out a disclosure reference and a payment reference.

If after you’ve notified you realise you no longer need to make a disclosure you must tell HMRC by calling the Let Property Helpline on Telephone: 0300 123 0998. If you don’t HMRC will take follow up action to secure a disclosure from you.

2.2 Disclose

You can do this as soon as you have your DRN but you must disclose within 90 days of the date you receive your notification acknowledgement.

You can make a disclosure:

When you send your disclosure you must pay what you owe.

Please make sure that HMRC receives your disclosure and payment by the date stated on your notification acknowledgement. If you can’t pay what you owe by the deadline given you must have made payment arrangements with HMRC by that date.

If you don’t do this you won’t be able to make a disclosure under the Let Property Campaign and won’t receive the certainty of terms and conditions within it.

3. Prepare your disclosure

3.1 How to calculate what you owe

Depending on your circumstances this could be simple or complicated and you may want to seek independent professional advice. Although you have 90 days from the date of your notification acknowledgement to make your disclosure, HMRC recommends that you start gathering together your information and records as early as possible. HMRC can’t provide individual advice on calculating how much you should pay.

You will need to work out the total rental income for each year you have previously failed to tell HMRC about. You don’t need to include any income in your disclosure that you have already told HMRC about, for example on a previous tax return. This is because tax should already have been paid on this income.

You will also need to calculate the allowable expenses that you incurred on that rental income. You can’t claim any expenses that you have already claimed on income you have previously told HMRC about. Allowable rental expenses are the things you spent money on as part of the day to day running of your property.

You will then need to deduct the allowable expenses from your income in order to determine your taxable profit. Not all of the expenses you incur will be allowable as a deduction.

More information is available on paying tax when renting out a property.

Once you have calculated the additional rental income you need to disclose you will need to work out how much tax you owe on that income.

The rates of income tax you will pay depend on how much income you earn above your Personal Allowance, which is an annual amount of tax free income. If you have already told HMRC about some income and are now disclosing additional income for any year you need to make sure that you take this into account in your calculations.

HMRC has produced a calculator that you may be able to use to work out what you owe. This can be used to calculate interest and penalties that are due on tax liability for up to the previous 19 years. You’ll need to calculate the tax liability due for each year manually prior to using this tool.

This calculator is designed to assist those who wish to disclose previously unpaid liabilities relating to employment, self-employment, rental income or Capital Gains. It will only work correctly for those who are in receipt of these types of income. The calculator isn’t suitable for those who have additional types of income that aren’t listed like investment income.

In order for the calculator to work you must enter details of all of the income you received in the year not just the additional income you are now disclosing. This information is needed in order to calculate the additional tax due at the correct rate.

If your affairs are more complex or if you are in any doubt about using this calculator then please refer to the guidance above on how to manually calculate your rental profits and the tax you owe.

Don’t enter your rental profits in the profits from self-employment as this could generate a Class 4 National Insurance contributions charge incorrectly.

3.2 Rental losses

Your disclosure should only include details of those years where a tax liability arises that you haven’t previously told HMRC about.

If after you deduct your allowable expenses from your rental income you discover that you have made a loss for any year you won’t need to include that year in your disclosure as there will be no tax due.

As a general rule you can carry that loss forward and use it to reduce the liability on your rental profits in following years. Rental losses can only be used against future rental profits. They can’t be used to reduce your liability on other income.

Calculating losses can be complex so if you discover that you have made a loss in any year and want to carry this forward for use in further years you may wish to seek independent professional advice.

3.3 If you don’t have all the business records you need to make your disclosure

If your records are incomplete you should make your best estimate of the undisclosed income and gains and use this to make your disclosure. HMRC may ask you to explain how you have worked out any estimates you have used, so you need to keep your calculations.

If you have your bank statements for the period of your disclosure they will probably help. If you don’t have them HMRC recommends you contact your bank as soon as possible to get copies.

If you can’t get copy statements at all, you should work out your income by using more recent statements as a guide to your income and expenditure. HMRC may ask you to explain why you couldn’t get copy statements.

If you haven’t kept proper business records you should begin to do so immediately. This opportunity is your chance to put things right from now on. If HMRC finds in the future that you have failed to keep appropriate records, they can charge penalties of up to £3,000.

3.4 Income you should include in your disclosure

Include all of the income you’ve not told HMRC about before in your disclosure.

Income earned in either the current tax year or the year prior to the current tax year

Any income you’ve had in the current tax year shouldn’t be included in your disclosure. If you’re not registered for Self Assessment you’ll need to register now for Income Tax.

HMRC will send you a tax return or notice to file a tax return shortly after the end of the current tax year. Report this income on that tax return by the deadline. There are different deadlines for individuals and companies. Include the income you had in the year before the current tax year on a tax return rather than in your disclosure.

If you’ve submitted the previous year’s tax return you can make an amendment within 12 months of the statutory filing date.

Income tax returns

Income Tax returns usually need to be submitted following the end of the tax year:

  • 1 October for paper returns
  • 31 January for online returns

So it’s likely that, for current and prior year, you’ll still have time to submit an accurate tax return including this income. But if we’ve sent you a return for any year from 2013 to 2014 that’s still outstanding, you must complete each return and not include those years in your disclosure.

3.5 How many years to include in your disclosure

This depends on why things went wrong.

If you’re taking part in the Let Property Campaign you will know why you haven’t previously told us about your income or paid the right amount of tax.

You’ll need to understand when you should have told us that you were receiving letting income as this will have a bearing on the number of years that you will now need to disclose.

We also ask you to decide whether you made an error despite taking reasonable care, whether you were careless, or whether it was something you did deliberately.

How much you pay will depend on the answers to those questions.

If you failed to notify HMRC about receiving letting income

When you start to receive letting income the latest you should tell HMRC is 5 October after the end of the tax year for which you start to receive that income. If, for example, you have tax to pay on rent from a property in the 2016 to 2017 tax year, you need to let HMRC know by 5 October 2017.

If you failed to register for a Self Assessment Tax Return by the appropriate deadline you will have to pay HMRC what you owe for a maximum of 20 years.

If you have taken reasonable care

If you registered for a Self Assessment tax return by the appropriate deadline, have taken care to make sure your tax affairs were correct but you have still paid too little, you will only have to pay HMRC what you owe for a maximum of 4 years. This means you:

  • will need to make sure that your tax affairs for the current and later tax years are accurately reported on tax returns by the appropriate deadlines
  • will need to make sure that your tax affairs for the year prior to the current tax year are reported on the tax return that was issued to you for that year by the appropriate deadline
  • have to complete the disclosure form and pay HMRC what you owe for the 3 years prior to this

If you were careless

If you registered for a Self Assessment tax return by the appropriate deadline but you have paid too little because you were careless, you will have to pay HMRC what you owe for a maximum of 6 years. This means you:

  • will need to make sure that your tax affairs for the current and later tax years are accurately reported on tax returns by the appropriate deadlines
  • will need to make sure that your tax affairs for the year prior to the current tax year are reported on the tax return that was issued to you for that year by the appropriate deadline
  • have to complete the disclosure form and pay HMRC what you owe for the 5 years prior to this

If you deliberately misled HMRC about this income

If you have deliberately paid too little tax you will have to pay HMRC what you owe for a maximum of 20 years.

HMRC expects most people to have to pay a maximum of 6 years but there will be some who need to pay more. These are people who have either:

  • deliberately told HMRC they have earned less than they have
  • not told HMRC anything at all about their income

3.6 Other liabilities you should include in your disclosure

A condition of taking part in the Let Property Campaign is that you include all of the income you have previously not told HMRC about in your disclosure as well as the income you receive from letting out property. This may include:

  • earned income not taxed before you receive it, for example, profits from another business
  • investment income not taxed before you receive it, for example, interest
  • income from non-residential property or land rental etc (less the expenses relating to that income)
  • capital gains made on the disposal of investments, such as land, property, shares, stocks, bonds, goodwill

3.7 Other liabilities you can tell us about in your disclosure

The following types of liabilities can’t be included in your disclosure form:

  • VAT
  • Employer Tax
  • Inheritance Tax
  • trust income or income arising during a period of administration

You can however indicate on it if you think you may need to resolve any issues in relation to these types of income and your details will be passed on to the appropriate department within HMRC. You will be contacted in due course by someone who will explain how you can rectify your tax affairs in relation to these areas.

You can also indicate on the form if you:

  • need to resolve any issues regarding your residency status to determine your chargeability to UK tax
  • or your partner have received tax credits in any of the years you have included in your disclosure as HMRC may need to review these payments

The disclosure form includes further guidance to help you decide whether you need to tell HMRC about these issues or not.

3.8 Interest

HMRC charges interest from the date tax is due until the date it is actually paid. Interest is calculated on a daily basis.

Any additional tax that’s included in your disclosure will be late and so will attract an interest charge.

If you fail to include the correct interest your disclosure will be rejected as won’t be complete. There’s a calculator available to help you work out the right amount of interest due. Please refer to how to calculate what you owe before using this calculator.

3.9 Penalties

HMRC charges penalties on any additional tax you owe if you:

  • sent us an incorrect tax return
  • didn’t tell us that you’re liable to tax

HMRC doesn’t charge interest on these penalties unless you pay them late.

In specific circumstances it may not be appropriate to allow you the full reductions for disclosure. For example if you’ve taken a significant period to correct your non-compliance, you can’t expect HMRC to agree a full reduction for disclosure. In such cases it’s unlikely that HMRC will reduce your penalty by more than 10 percentage points above the minimum of the statutory range. For this purpose HMRC would normally consider a ‘significant period’ to be over three years, or less where the overall disclosure covers a longer period.

The factsheets on penalties for inaccuracies in returns and penalties for failure to notify have more information on the statutory range for penalties to be reduced.

The penalty is a percentage of the additional amount you owe. We can charge penalties of up to:

  • 100% of the tax liability if the income or gain arose in the UK
  • 200% for an offshore liability

If you have offshore income or gains to disclose you should make your disclosure and select the offshore option in the form where appropriate.

Although the rate of the penalties will vary depending on your circumstances, they’ll usually be lower if you make a voluntary disclosure.

If you’ve taken reasonable care with your tax affairs, but you haven’t declared the right amount of tax you owe, you won’t pay any penalties at all. We don’t expect many people’s circumstances to fall within this category.

If you haven’t paid enough tax even though you’ve taken reasonable care with your affairs or there’s anything else you think HMRC should consider concerning the penalties you have to pay, please phone the helpline before making your disclosure.

If HMRC thinks that you haven’t included the right penalty in your disclosure, we may reject it.

3.10 Declaration

This is a very important part of your disclosure. You should only complete the declaration once you’re certain that your disclosure is correct and complete and that you understand why you have been asked to include penalties in your disclosure.

3.11 Offer

It is a condition of using the Let Property Campaign that you make an offer for the full amount of everything you owe. Your offer, together with HMRC’s acceptance letter, will create a legally binding contract between you and HMRC. There are letters of offer included in the disclosure forms which you should complete.

4. Paying HMRC

4.1 When to pay

Unless you have contacted HMRC to agree additional time to pay, you should send your payment at the same time as you send your disclosure, but no later than the 90 day deadline given on your notification acknowledgement letter.

4.2 Payment methods

Whichever way you pay, please make sure that you quote your PRN. HMRC accepts payment by a range of methods but recommends that you make your payment electronically. Electronic payments are more efficient, secure and safer than payment by post.

4.3 What happens if you can’t pay the full amount

HMRC expects you to pay what you owe when you make your disclosure.

If for some reason you can’t pay the full amount, you will need to let HMRC know as soon as possible and before you send in your disclosure. To do this, you should contact the Let Property Campaign Helpline.

When you phone, HMRC will want to talk to you about your current financial position so they can tell you what they think you should pay and when. To help HMRC decide, you will need to tell them:

  • your DRN
  • how and when you intend to pay HMRC what you owe
  • what your current weekly/monthly income and outgoings are
  • what you own, including your home, other property/land, vehicles, investments, money in the bank etc
  • what you owe, including mortgages, loans, credit cards

If you can’t pay the full amount don’t submit your disclosure or payment until you have spoken to HMRC.

5. After HMRC receives your disclosure

5.1 Accepting your disclosure

HMRC anticipates that the vast majority of disclosures will be accepted. If, after checks, HMRC is satisfied that you have made a full disclosure, they will accept it as quickly as possible.

5.2 Acknowledging your disclosure

When they receive your disclosure, HMRC will send you an acknowledgment as soon as possible. HMRC will then consider the disclosure under the terms of the Let Property Campaign. If you haven’t received an acknowledgement within 2 weeks of sending your disclosure, please telephone the Let Property Campaign Helpline.

HMRC expects most disclosures to be self-explanatory but they may need to contact you or your tax adviser to clarify any points. You may also be asked to provide evidence of your circumstances to satisfy HMRC that your disclosure is complete. Your full co-operation is one of the conditions of using this opportunity and failure to co-operate may jeopardise acceptance of your offer.

5.3 Considering your disclosure

HMRC will review all disclosures. If after those checks are completed HMRC decide to accept your disclosure they will send you a letter accepting your offer. If HMRC can’t accept the disclosure they will contact you. If following their enquiries HMRC finds that a disclosure is materially incorrect they will seek significantly higher penalties. It is also possible that in exceptional circumstances an incomplete disclosure may be considered under HMRC Criminal Investigation Policy. In such cases the material in the disclosure could be used as evidence.

5.4 Disclosures that are unlikely to be accepted through the Let Property Campaign

Certain disclosures are unlikely to be accepted under the Let Property Campaign.

Disclosures that are found to be materially incorrect or incomplete when checked by HMRC are unlikely to be accepted under the Let Property Campaign.

Also unlikely to be accepted are disclosures from customers where HMRC has notified their intention to open an enquiry or compliance check before the customer has notified their intention to submit a disclosure under the campaign. Those who want to disclose liabilities under these circumstances should tell the person conducting the enquiry. A full and early disclosure will influence the amount of penalty HMRC seeks in the ongoing enquiry or investigation.

Instances involving disclosures where HMRC believes the money that is the subject of the disclosure is the proceeds of serious organised crime aren’t likely to be accepted. Examples of this include VAT fraud, VAT bogus registration fraud, organised tax credit fraud and instances where there is wider criminality (such as an ongoing police investigation).

An important factor for HMRC in deciding if they will carry out civil or criminal investigations into cases of fiscal fraud is whether the taxpayer(s) has made a complete and unprompted disclosure of any amounts evaded or improperly reclaimed. Whilst HMRC would consider each case on its merits a complete and unprompted disclosure would generally suggest that a civil (rather than criminal) investigation was appropriate.

Also, if you were eligible for any past HMRC disclosure opportunity and you didn’t disclose at that time, HMRC may find it hard to accept that anything you disclose through the Let Property Campaign wasn’t a result of something you did deliberately. HMRC would expect you to calculate your penalty and the number of years you should pay to reflect deliberate action. If you don’t, HMRC may not accept your disclosure. You will be in this category if you haven’t yet come forward and would have been covered by a previous campaign.

5.5 If you disclose very serious tax problems

HMRC can’t offer immunity from prosecution but an important factor when they are deciding whether to carry out criminal investigations into cases of tax fraud is whether you’ve made a complete and unprompted disclosure of any amounts evaded or improperly reclaimed.

5.6 If you leave something important out of your disclosure

If after submitting your disclosure you realise you have missed something out, you should immediately contact HMRC to make an amendment. You can do this by phone or by writing (forwarding your amendment) to the Let Property Campaign Team.

If HMRC receives information indicating that your disclosure was incorrect, they have the right to look at your tax affairs again.

HMRC may write to you about the information they have received and if necessary, will send you assessments to collect any extra tax due. These penalties are likely to be higher than those offered by the Let Property Campaign.

5.7 Information received after disclosure accepted

HMRC will continue to seek new information. They will use it to identify customers where a disclosure should have been made or where the disclosure made isn’t what was expected based on the information HMRC holds.

5.8 If I disclose this liability could HMRC publish details about me?

In certain circumstances HMRC is able to publish the details of those penalised for deliberately failing in particular tax obligations. If you come forward as part of this campaign you will earn the maximum reduction of any relevant penalties for the quality of disclosure, and HMRC won’t publish your details if you do all of the following:

  • notify HMRC that you’re going to make a disclosure
  • make a full disclosure including full payment of tax owed which proves to be both accurate and complete before the deadline you’re given for doing so
  • cooperate fully with HMRC if they ask you for any further information

HMRC may include you in a list of deliberate defaulters if you don’t follow these steps.

6. Getting things right for the future

Once you have submitted your disclosure HMRC expects you to keep your tax affairs in order in the future. This means that you should continue to accurately declare your income and gains for those years that fall after the latest year you include in your disclosure. You should ensure any tax returns that are issued to you are returned with accurate information by the appropriate deadlines.

7. General information

7.1 Help and advice

If you have any questions not covered by this guide please phone the Let Property Campaign Helpline.

HMRC have also produced a toolkit which specifically relates to property rental. This is aimed at tax advisors to help them complete tax returns. It may also be helpful to anyone completing a disclosure as it explains some of the common mistakes that are made in relation to calculating rental income.

You can also view the SA105 guidance notes that HMRC issues to help complete the rental pages on a tax return.

7.2 Customers with particular needs

If you need extra help to deal with the Let Property Campaign Team please get in touch. HMRC can help if:

  • English is not your first language
  • you want a copy of this guidance in Welsh
  • you would like HMRC to use a certain format to communicate with you - for example braille or Text Relay
  • you would like a copy of this guidance in audio or large print

Contact the Let Property Campaign Helpline. If you use Text Relay by text-phone, please dial 18001 + number. If you use Text Relay by telephone please dial 18002 + number.

7.3 Your rights and obligations

HMRC’s customer charter (called Your Charter) explains what you can expect from HMRC and what HMRC expects from you.

7.4 If you’re unhappy with HMRC’s service

If you are unhappy with HMRC’s service please phone or write to the Let Property Campaign Team

7.5 Privacy and confidentiality policy

The full protection of the Human Rights Act will continue to apply to you and HMRC has a strict policy regarding the privacy and confidentiality of customers’ personal information.

7.6 Data Protection Act

HMRC is a Data Controller under the Data Protection Act 1998. HMRC holds information for the purposes specified in their notification to the Information Commissioner, including the assessment and collection of tax and duties, the payment of benefits and the prevention and detection of crime, and may use this information for any of them.

HMRC may get information about you from others, or they may give information to them. If HMRC does, it will only be as the law permits to:

  • check the accuracy of information
  • prevent or detect crime
  • protect public funds

HMRC may check information they receive about you with what is already in their records. This can include information provided by you, as well as by others such as other government departments or agencies and overseas tax and customs authorities. HMRC won’t give information to anyone outside HMRC unless the law permits them to do so.

For more information see HMRC’s Data Protection - Information Charter.