Furnished holiday let tax benefits to remain (for now)

With the dissolution of Parliament following the snap election decision by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week, the furnished holiday let tax benefits which were due to be scrapped did not come to fruition.

Whilst first announced at Spring Budget 2024, as no draft legislation was published before the current parliament session ended, it will now be up to the next parliament to decide if they want to bring the proposal forward again.

Prior to the dissolution of parliament, a debate took place on the subject in Westminster Hall on Wednesday 1 May 2024. This discussion focused on the abolishment of the Furnished Holiday Regime. Led by Peter Aldous MP, this debate failed to provide any further insight into the progress of the proposal.

The debate did indicate that it appears that the Treasury’s current stance is not to consider objections by MPs, nor to allow a consultation on the matter.

Furnished holiday let announcement in Spring Budget 2024

At the Spring Budget 2024, The Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt announced the FHL regime would be scrapped. He commented that the current regime was “creating a distortion” in the market where the result of this is that local communities are struggling to find long-term properties to rent.

Broadly welcomed in parliament, news publications had mixed views. Whilst some welcomed the proposal, others expressed concerns to tourism in certain communities.

As the measure was not included in the Finance Bill, HMRC has not published an impact assessment of the measure.

In response to some criticism of the proposal, the Chancellor commented that he wanted to equalise the tax treatment for landlords regardless of the type of rental property. He elaborated that the Government’s proposal was significantly simpler than what the OTS had suggested.

The introduction of tax benefits for furnished holiday lets

The furnished holiday lettings regime tax rules were introduced in 1982-83. This was to provide clarity over whether operating a short-term holiday rental business should be treated as a trade or investment for tax purposes.

This followed several cases with differing outcomes on this subject and the subsequent uncertainty for those involved in these businesses. The emerging legislation did not treat the activity as a trade. Instead, it directed that income from Furnished Holiday Lettings was to be taxed as trading income instead of investment income.

This was important at the time as investment income attracted an additional tax surcharge.

Under the legislation as first introduced, the day count requirements were less than currently (70 days of actual letting and 140 days of availability) and the range of tax reliefs was greater. This included losses from a furnished holiday let, which could be set off against general income (sideways loss relief). The property had to be situated in the UK.

The future for the tax treatment of furnished holiday lets

Whilst it will be down to the next incoming government to make a decision on whether the current tax regime will be abolished, both main parties have now tabled plans to abolish it.

In 2009, the Labour government first proposed to abolish the Furnished Holiday Lettings regime. The provision for this was originally included in the Finance Bill 2009-10.

However, because the 2010 election was called in the spring of 2010, the proposal was dropped from the Bill. The incoming Conservative-Lib Dem coalition did not proceed with the abolition of the regime.

The Government did go on to change certain elements of the eligibility criteria to qualify as a FHL. This included increasing the occupancy criteria days).

Tax advice for FHLs and property investments

There is no clear steer on whether Furnished Holiday lets tax benefits will remain in the new parliament. However, what is at least a delay to any proposals to change the regime, provides time for owners to consider their tax options.

Whether a Furnished Holiday Let is held as an individual investment, or you own several, tax planning now can provide a clearer picture of the future.

If you hold other investments, such as Buy to Let properties, a holistic approach to your portfolio may be beneficial.  At Alexander & Co we can review your situation and advise on what is likely to be the best tax solution.

Contact Alexander & Co

To speak with one of our property tax advisors, please email us at info@alexander.co.uk. Alternatively, you can complete the enquiry for on this page and we will be in touch.

We have a specialist team who covers all aspects of property tax. So you will be provided with advice you can rely upon.

Further reading

Previous Article

How to sell a business

How to sell a business – getting a business ‘sale ready’

Next Article

non-resident tax

Non-resident tax – a useful summary of tax treatments

Contact a professional now