Understanding Second Home Tax: A Comprehensive Guide



The Insider @ Houst
Last updated on
June 23, 2023

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Understanding Second Home Tax: A Comprehensive Guide

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Considering buying a second home and curious about the potential tax obligations? Whether you intend to use it as a short term rental property or a long-term investment, a second home tax is likely applicable. The tax implications for second homes vary from those of your primary residence, which may seem perplexing. However, don’t worry; we will simplify and explain the details!

Curious about which properties fall under the radar of second home tax? Brace yourself, as the taxman has a keen eye on most second homes, regardless of their purpose or how they landed in your possession. If your humble abode doesn't serve as your primary residence, chances are it will likely be subject to second home tax. The following property types typically find themselves tangled in this taxation web:

Table of Contents

What Taxes Do You Need to Pay for a Second Home?

There are four distinct taxes when it comes to buying a house in UK. The taxes you owe can vary based on the purpose for which your second home is utilized. While the tax burden may seem daunting, understanding these taxes is crucial.

  1. Stamp Duty Land Tax 

You all might know what is stamp duty tax. Stamp Duty Land Tax is a key player in the UK's intricate dance of home buying. This particular tax takes the limelight as the most common financial consideration when embarking on your homeownership journey. 

If you're purchasing a £900,000 house, you'll end up paying more in Stamp Duty than buying a £450,000 house. The rates are progressive, meaning different portions of the property value fall into different tax bands, each with its own applicable rate. 

For example, the Stamp Duty rates in England and Northern Ireland are as follows:

  • Up to £125,000: 0% (no Stamp Duty)
  • Over £125,000 to £250,000: 2%
  • Over £250,000 to £925,000: 5%
  • Over £925,000 to £1.5 million: 10%
  • Over £1.5 million: 12%

Council Tax 

Council Tax is an additional tax that may apply to your second home. The Council Tax you pay on your second home can be different depending on the council's policies in that area.

Fortunately, some councils offer discounts on Council Tax for second homes if the property is not occupied throughout the entire year. These discounts are designed to reflect the reduced usage and services required for properties that are not the primary residence. The availability and extent of these discounts can differ between councils.

To determine the exact discount or any specific regulations regarding Council Tax on your second home, it is advisable to contact the relevant council directly. 

Income Tax

Renting out your second home? Don't forget to pay Income Tax on the rental income you earn. The amount you owe depends on your profit and overall income. This means that the more profit you generate, your Income Tax liability may be higher. Considering this factor when evaluating the financial aspects of renting out your second home is important.

To calculate the Income Tax on your rental income, you must deduct allowable expenses from the rental income. These expenses can include mortgage interest payments, maintenance costs, letting agent fees, and other relevant expenses incurred about the rental property. The remaining amount after deducting expenses will be considered the taxable profit.

The tax rate you will be charged on this taxable profit will depend on your overall income. The rates for Income Tax can vary, ranging from basic to higher rates and additional rates for those with substantial incomes.

Capital Gains Tax

Capital gains tax (CGT) is levied when you sell an asset appreciated during your ownership. In the case of a second home, you are liable to pay CGT on the profit generated from the investment. Simply subtract the original purchase price from the final sales price to determine your gain. For example, if you bought your second home at £200,000 and its value is £350,000, your profit amounts to £150,000.   

However, if your profit from the sale is less than £12,300, you are exempt from paying CGT. This amount falls within the capital gains tax allowance, providing some relief for smaller gains.

Are There Exemptions from Second Home Tax?

Not all second homes are subject to second home tax. There are certain scenarios where you may be able to avoid or receive a refund on stamp duty, such as:

  • If your second home is mobile, like a caravan or boat.
  • If the value of your second home is below £40,000.
  • If you sell your primary residence within three years of purchasing your second home.

Tax Tips for Homeowners Buying a Second Home

tips for second home buying and stamp duty

Here are some second home buying tips and ways to reduce tax

Deduct Mortgage Interest on Your Second Home

Mortgage interest can be deducted for a second home not rented out. Before 2018, you could write off 100% of the interest on up to $1.1 million of debt, combining both your first and second homes, used for acquiring or improving the properties. You can have up to $1 million in mortgage debt and up to $100,000 in home equity debt.

Starting in 2018, the limit is reduced to $750,000 of debt for contracts or loans established after December 16, 2017. For loans obtained before this date, the limit remains at $1 million ($1.1 million if the home equity portion is included).

Deduct Property Taxes 

You can deduct property taxes from your second home, like your main home. Unlike the mortgage interest rule, there's no limit on the number of homes for which you can do this.

Rent out Your Second Home

If you decide to rent out your second home or utilise your property while you're away, different tax rules apply depending on the rental and personal use breakdown:

Renting for 14 or fewer days

You can keep the rental income tax-free, even if the amount is substantial. The IRS considers the property a personal residence, allowing you to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes according to the standard rules for a second home.

Renting for more than 14 days

You must report all rental yields, but you also get to deduct rental expenses. However, the process becomes more complex as you must allocate costs between when the property is used for personal purposes and when it is rented out.

Limitations on Personal Use

When you use your vacation home for personal purposes, there are some rules to follow. If you use it for more than 14 days or over 10% of the total days it is rented, you won't be able to claim rental losses, but you can still claim the portion of interest that qualifies as a personal expense. 

Using your vacation home for up to 14 days or 10% of the rental days is considered a rental property. You may be able to deduct up to $25,000 in losses per year. Some vacation homeowners limit personal use to maximise deductions and focus on property maintenance.

Maximise Your Second Home's Profit Potential with Houst

Partnering with Houst, a rental management company, can greatly enhance your ability to generate income from your second home rental property. We are dedicated to helping you maximize your profit while simplifying the management process.

Our team of experts excels in professional property rental management, ensuring your property stands out and attracts potential guests on various rental platforms. Our data-driven insights help you identify opportunities for revenue optimization.

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider team provides up-to-date and relevant information on short-term rentals to help navigate the world of short lets. If you're interested in publishing your content, please get in touch with us at expert@houst.com.

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider team provides up-to-date and relevant information on short-term rentals to help navigate the world of short lets. If you're interested in publishing your content, please get in touch with us at expert@houst.com.