How to Avoid Paying Tax on Airbnb in the UK

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The Insider @ Houst
Last updated on
June 28, 2024

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How to Avoid Paying Tax on Airbnb in the UK

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It's really important to understand your tax duties and ensure you follow the rules when renting out your house on Airbnb in the UK. Paying taxes on your Airbnb earnings is something you can't avoid, but there are smart and legal ways to lessen what you owe. In this blog, we’ll discuss everything you need about Airbnb income, including ways to legally minimise your tax bill.

So, let’s have a look at how to avoid paying tax on Airbnb UK!

Table of Contents

Differences Between Airbnb Hosting and Buy-to-Let

There are some key differences between Airbnb hosting and traditional buy-to-let arrangements. Airbnb hosts experience a fast-paced turnover of guests throughout the year, whereas buy-to-let landlords typically have tenants sign up for fixed periods, usually six months, under an Assured Short-hold Tenancy agreement.

HMRC categorises properties let through platforms like Airbnb as Furnished Holiday Lets, which come with significant tax benefits. To qualify, you need to meet specific criteria:

  • The property must be let for at least 105 days in the tax year.
  • The property must be available for letting for at least 210 days in the tax year.
  • It should not be let to the same person or organisation for more than 31 days without a break.

Whether you choose Airbnb or buy-to-let, having a professional property tax advisor can significantly reduce stress and enhance your overall profitability through expert tax and financial planning.

Tax for Airbnb Hosting in Your Own Residence

If you live in the property you're renting out on Airbnb, you might qualify for the UK's 'rent-a-room' scheme, which offers a tax-free allowance of £7,500. To qualify, you must reside in the property during the letting period – no jetting off abroad and leaving tenants behind. This relief isn't deducted from your profits; instead, it offsets your gross rental receipts, which are your total receipts before deducting any expenses.

If your rental receipts are £7,500 or less in a tax year, you're automatically exempt from tax and don't need to declare them on a tax return. If you earn more than £7,500, you'll need to follow normal tax rules. Under the basic rate tax rules, you can earn up to £12,570 in total income in a year without paying any tax.

Your tax liability depends on your earnings, but this applies only if you're hosting from a property you own and your earnings exceed £12,570.

Tax Implications of Airbnb Hosting on Buy-to-Let Properties (Not Your Main Residence)

If your Airbnb property isn't your main residence, you won't qualify for the rent-a-room allowance. Instead, you'll need to pay property tax on your earnings. However, remember that tax is only on profits, as you're renting out the property as a business. Hosts can deduct allowable expenses such as repairs, gas, electricity, etc.

Most buy-to-let properties fall under HMRC's Furnished Holiday Let (FHL) scheme, which comes with specific criteria:

  • The property must be located in the UK or European Economic Area.
  • It must be available for rent for at least 210 days per year and occupied for at least 105 days.
  • No single tenant should rent the property for longer than 31 days except in exceptional circumstances.
  • It must be rented out to normal holidaymakers, not solely to friends and family.
  • The property must be furnished adequately for normal occupation.
  • It must be commercially let to make a profit, even if profit isn't always achieved.
  • All FHL properties are treated as businesses for tax purposes, requiring appropriate record-keeping.

FHL properties offer significant tax advantages that can enhance your Airbnb host earnings. You can claim capital allowances on furniture, equipment, and fittings. Being classified as a business under FHL rules allows you to deduct allowable expenses like repairs and utilities, further reducing your tax liabilities.

Unlike traditional buy-to-let properties, FHL earnings are not subject to National Insurance contributions and can be used to make tax-advantaged pension contributions.

How to Avoid Paying Tax on Airbnb UK

If you're looking to reduce your tax liability or avoid paying tax on your Airbnb income in the UK, consider the following steps:

Declare Your Income Correctly

The crucial first step to avoiding tax issues is ensuring you declare your Airbnb income correctly. It's mandatory to report all rental income to HMRC. To streamline this process, keep meticulous records of your rental income and expenses. This helps in accurately reporting your earnings and claiming eligible deductions.

Use the Rent-a-Room Scheme for Your Airbnb Business

If you're starting your Airbnb venture, you might qualify for the Rent-a-Room scheme. This scheme allows you to earn up to £7,500 annually tax-free from renting out a furnished room in your own home. Here’s how it works:

Benefits of the Rent-a-Room Scheme:

  • Tax-Free Income: If your rental income is £7,500 or less per year, you won’t have to pay any tax on it.
  • Threshold Clarification: After deducting expenses, the £7,500 threshold applies to your gross rental income, not your profits.
  • Ideal for Beginners: It’s a great option for new hosts looking to minimise their tax liabilities while starting out on Airbnb.

Keeping Records of Deductible Expenses 

As an Airbnb host, you can benefit from deducting various expenses from your rental income to lower your tax bill. Here’s how you can maximise this advantage:

Recording Deductible Expenses:

  • Reduce Tax Liability: Deduct expenses such as council tax, maintenance and repairs, mortgage interest, cleaning fees, and utility bills from your rental income.
  • Detailed Records: Keep thorough records to substantiate your claims. This ensures you only deduct legitimate expenses directly related to your rental activities.
  • Claiming Legitimate Expenses: It’s essential to claim only expenses that genuinely apply to your Airbnb hosting.

Set Up a Limited Company for Your Airbnb Income

Setting up a limited company could be worth considering if you're making good money from your Airbnb rentals. Here's why:

Benefits of a Limited Company:

  • Lower Taxes: You might pay less tax compared to being taxed as an individual.
  • Tax Planning: It gives you more ways to plan your taxes smartly.
  • Costs and Complications: However, running a limited company can be costly and complicated. It's important to weigh these against the tax advantages.
  • Seek Advice: To decide if this is right for you, it's wise to chat with an accountant who knows about property rental or a tax advisor.

Claim Capital Allowances on Your Airbnb Property

Did you know you can claim capital allowances on certain items in your Airbnb property? Here’s how it works:

What Qualifies

  • Equipment and Furniture: Items used specifically for your Airbnb rental activities may qualify.
  • Tax Benefits: Capital allowances allow you to deduct the cost of these items from your taxable profits, reducing your overall tax liability.

It’s best to speak with a tax advisor to determine which items qualify and their value. They can help assess your situation and ensure you’re maximising your tax benefits. Understanding how capital allowances work can help you effectively manage your tax obligations when hosting on Airbnb in the UK.

Conclusion 

As an Airbnb host in the UK, whether you need to report your income depends on how much you earn each year. If your earnings cross a certain threshold, you must report them and pay tax. However, there are ways to reduce your tax bill. Running an Airbnb business in the UK also comes with several advantages. It's a good idea to seek advice from a tax expert before deciding on your next steps. To maximise your rental yield, hire a property manager like Houst

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider team at Houst is dedicated to providing up-to-date and relevant information on short-term rentals. If you have hosting inquiries, please write to us at expert@houst.com. For guest inquiries, reach out at guest@houst.com. We are here to help you navigate the world of short lets and look forward to assisting you with your needs.

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider team at Houst is dedicated to providing up-to-date and relevant information on short-term rentals. If you have hosting inquiries, please write to us at expert@houst.com. For guest inquiries, reach out at guest@houst.com. We are here to help you navigate the world of short lets and look forward to assisting you with your needs.

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