Can I claim tax relief on mortgage interest?

For many in the UK, the ability to claim tax relief on mortgage interest has historically represented a significant financial advantage, particularly for landlords and property investors. However, recent changes in tax legislation have reshaped the landscape, affecting both homeowners and landlords in distinct ways.

Understanding these changes is crucial for effectively managing your finances and ensuring compliance with current tax laws. In this guide, we will explore the eligibility criteria for claiming mortgage interest tax relief, detail the recent legislative changes, and provide you with a clear, step-by-step explanation of how you can claim this relief, if applicable. Whether you are purchasing your first home or managing a portfolio of rental properties, staying informed about tax relief opportunities on mortgage interest is key to maximising your financial outcomes.

Understanding mortgage interest tax relief

What is Mortgage Interest Tax Relief?

Mortgage interest tax relief allows individuals to deduct mortgage interest payments from their taxable income, thereby reducing the amount of tax owed. This type of relief can apply to both residential and investment properties, depending on various criteria and regulations set by the UK government.

Can i claim tax relief on mortgage interest in the UK?

History and evolution

Historically, mortgage interest tax relief was more broadly available to homeowners in the UK. Until the late 1990s, homeowners could deduct payments of mortgage interest from their taxable income, which helped reduce the cost of home ownership. However, this relief for residential homeowners was gradually phased out by 2000 as part of wider tax reforms aimed at simplifying the tax system and removing what was seen as an unfair advantage that did not necessarily stimulate home ownership.

For landlords, the situation has been different. They were able to claim tax relief on their mortgage interest payments as a business expense against their rental income, reflecting the commercial nature of letting property. This was seen as a necessary allowance to encourage investment in the private rental sector, which plays a critical role in providing housing.

Eligibility criteria

Eligibility for Homeowners

For residential homeowners, the ability to claim tax relief on mortgage interest is largely a thing of the past. As of the year 2000, all tax relief for mortgage interest for private residences was phased out. Homeowners, therefore, do not have any opportunities to claim this type of tax relief under current UK tax laws.

Eligibility for Landlords

Landlords, on the other hand, still have provisions under which they can claim relief on their mortgage interest expenses, though the format has changed significantly. As part of the government’s tax reform, the relief is no longer a direct deduction from rental income but is instead given as a tax credit. Here’s what landlords need to know about their eligibility:

Ownership structure: The property must be owned by the individual, a partnership, or a trust to qualify for the tax credit. Corporate entities, such as limited companies, are treated differently under corporation tax rules and do not qualify for this tax credit.

Type of loan: The mortgage must be a loan specifically taken out for the purchase, improvement, or repair of the rental property.

Property use: The property must be used to generate rental income during the period for which mortgage interest is claimed. Properties not available for rent in the tax year or used as personal residences are ineligible.

Residency status: The tax treatment can vary depending on the landlord’s tax residency status. UK residents are generally eligible for the tax credit, whereas non-residents might face different rules depending on their country of residence and double taxation agreements.

Calculating the tax credit

The tax credit is calculated at a flat rate of 20% of the mortgage interest paid during the tax year. This is beneficial for basic rate taxpayers as it aligns with their tax rate. However, higher and additional rate taxpayers, who previously benefited from higher tax relief on their mortgage interest, now receive a lower net benefit.

Documentation and reporting

Landlords must ensure they keep thorough records of their mortgage interest payments, as these will be essential when claiming the tax credit. The expenses and the resulting credit must be accurately reported on their Self-assessment tax returns to avoid errors and possible penalties.

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Changes in tax relief for landlords

Introduction to the phased changes

In a significant shift aimed at levelling the playing field between homeowners and investors, the UK government introduced phased changes to the way tax relief on mortgage interest is handled for landlords. Starting in April 2017, these changes were implemented over four years, culminating in April 2020. The objective was to reduce the tax advantage previously available to landlords, particularly those in higher tax brackets.

Details of the phased implementation

The transition was structured to gradually reduce the percentage of mortgage interest that landlords could deduct from their rental income before calculating their tax liability. Here’s how the phase-out progressed:

2017 to 2018: Landlords could deduct 75% of their mortgage interest from their rental income, with the remaining 25% receiving a basic rate tax credit.

2018 to 2019: The deductible portion was reduced to 50%, with 50% eligible for a tax credit.

2019 to 2020: Only 25% of mortgage interest could be deducted, while 75% was eligible for the tax credit.

From april 2020 onwards: All mortgage interest relief is provided as a basic rate tax credit, with no deduction from rental income allowed.

Impact on different taxpayers

This reform has varied impacts based on the taxpayer’s marginal rate of tax:

Basic rate taxpayers: Little change, as the tax credit effectively mirrors the relief they would have received from a deduction.

Higher and additional rate taxpayers: Significantly affected, as they previously benefited from relief at their higher marginal tax rates. Now, the relief is capped at the basic rate of 20%, effectively increasing their tax liability.

Rationale behind the changes

The government’s rationale for these changes was multifaceted:

Fairness: To reduce the tax advantages that landlords had over homeowners, who receive no similar relief on their own residential mortgages.

Revenue: To increase tax revenues from the rental sector, which has grown significantly in size.

Housing market influence: To potentially cool down the buy-to-let market and reduce upward pressure on property prices, making homes more affordable for first-time buyers.

Advice for landlords

In light of these changes, landlords are advised to:

Review financial plans: Consider the increased tax costs in their investment returns.

Consider business structures: Some may find it advantageous to hold properties within a corporate structure, as corporate entities are subject to different tax rules and rates.

Seek professional advice: Consulting with tax professionals can provide strategies to mitigate the impact of these changes, such as restructuring property portfolios or optimizing other deductible expenses.

Calculation of tax relief

Understanding the basic rate tax credit

Under the new tax relief system that fully came into effect from April 2020, landlords can no longer deduct mortgage interest and other allowable costs directly from their rental income. Instead, they receive a tax credit equivalent to 20% of their mortgage interest payments. Here’s how to calculate this tax credit:

Step-by-step calculation process

Calculate total mortgage interest payments: Compile all payments made during the tax year. This includes monthly interest payments on any mortgages taken out for buying, improving, or maintaining rental properties.

Apply the basic rate: Multiply the total mortgage interest paid by the basic tax rate of 20%. The result is the amount of your tax credit.Formula: Mortgage Interest Tax Credit = Total Mortgage Interest x 20%

Calculate taxable rental income: Add up your total rental income and deduct any allowable expenses (excluding mortgage interest). This figure is your taxable rental income.

Deduct the tax credit from your tax liability: Once you calculate your overall tax liability based on your taxable income, subtract the tax credit from this amount to find out your net tax due.

Example calculation

Suppose you have rental income totalling £20,000 for the year and mortgage interest payments of £5,000. Your other allowable expenses amount to £3,000. Here’s how you would calculate your tax:

Taxable rental income: £20,000 – £3,000 (other allowable expenses) = £17,000

Mortgage interest tax credit: £5,000 x 20% = £1,000

Tax liability: Calculate the tax on £17,000, then subtract the £1,000 credit to determine your net tax due.

Illustrative scenarios

Scenario for a basic rate taxpayer: If you fall within the basic rate tax bracket, your tax credit essentially neutralises the impact of not being able to deduct mortgage interest directly.

Scenario for a higher rate taxpayer: Higher rate taxpayers, who would have previously benefited from up to 40% or 45% relief, now only receive 20%, thus facing higher net tax liabilities.

Key considerations

Accurate record keeping: Ensure you keep detailed and accurate records of all mortgage interest payments, as HMRC may request evidence of these expenses.

Understanding overlap rules: If your accounting period overlaps tax years, prorate your mortgage interest accordingly to accurately apply for the basic rate tax credit.

Advice for optimising tax relief

Refinancing options: Consider if refinancing your mortgage could lead to more favourable interest rates and potentially lower overall mortgage interest payments.

Tax planning: Consult a tax advisor to explore other lawful avenues to minimize tax liabilities, such as optimising your allowable expenses or adjusting your rental strategy.

How to claim your tax relief

Overview of the claiming process

Claiming tax relief on mortgage interest now involves receiving a tax credit instead of directly deducting expenses from rental income. This tax credit is claimed through your Self-assessment tax return, and it’s crucial to understand the steps and documentation required to ensure compliance and maximize your tax benefits.

Step-by-step guide to claiming tax relief

Prepare Documentation: Before filling out your tax return, gather all necessary documentation, including mortgage statements and records of interest payments throughout the tax year. This documentation will support the figures you report on your return.

Fill Out self assessment tax return:

Report your rental income and expenses: List your total rental income and allowable expenses (excluding mortgage interest) in the relevant sections of the self-assessment form.

Calculate your taxable income: Subtract allowable expenses from your rental income to find your taxable income from property.

Enter your mortgage interest payments: Input the total mortgage interest payments in the section designated for finance costs.

Claim the tax credit: The tax credit (20% of your mortgage interest payments) is then automatically calculated and deducted from your tax liability.

Submit the tax return: Ensure that you submit your tax return by the deadline (January 31st for online returns) to avoid penalties. It’s advisable to submit early to resolve any issues well before the deadline.

Examples of claiming tax relief

Example for basic rate taxpayer: If a landlord paid £4,000 in mortgage interest, they can claim a tax credit of £800 (20% of £4,000). This amount is then deducted from their final tax bill.

Example for higher rate taxpayer: Although the tax credit remains at 20%, the impact on final tax liability will differ due to the higher tax rate applied to their income.

Common pitfalls to avoid

Inaccurate reporting: Ensure all figures are accurate and supported by documentation. Errors can lead to audits and penalties.

Missing deadlines: Late submission of your tax return can result in fines and interest charges on any unpaid tax.

Overlooking allowable expenses: Apart from mortgage interest, other expenses related to rental activities can be deducted. Ensure you claim these to minimise your taxable income.

Tips for efficient tax filing

Use digital tools: Consider using accounting software or digital tools provided by HMRC to track income and expenses and prepare your tax return.

Consult a tax professional: Especially in cases where your tax situation is complex or you own multiple properties, consulting with a tax advisor can help optimise your tax strategy and compliance.

Impact on homeowners and landlords

Impact on homeowners

Elimination of Relief: Homeowners have not been able to claim tax relief on mortgage interest since the year 2000. This section of the market sees no direct effects from the recent changes in tax relief for landlords, but the overall housing market dynamics, such as pricing and availability, might be indirectly influenced as landlords adjust their investment strategies.

Impact on landlords

Increased tax burden: The shift from mortgage interest being a deductible expense to a tax credit has particularly affected higher and additional rate taxpayers, significantly increasing their tax burden. This change aligns their tax treatment more closely with basic rate taxpayers, reducing the previous advantages of property investment for higher earners.

Cash flow challenges: For many landlords, the reduced tax relief translates into higher operational costs, potentially affecting their cash flow, especially if rental income does not cover the increased tax and other ownership costs.

Investment strategy adjustments: Landlords might need to reassess their investment strategies, considering factors like property type and location, to maintain profitability. Some may choose to exit the market, while others might look to invest in areas with higher rental yields or lower property prices.

Potential market cooling: The changes are intended, in part, to cool down an overheated property market. By reducing the attractiveness of buy-to-let investments for high earners, there could be fewer bidding wars and a slowdown in price increases, potentially benefiting first-time homebuyers.

Strategies for landlords to mitigate impact

Reviewing portfolio structure: Landlords should consider the structure of their property portfolios, possibly reallocating investments or changing the types of properties they invest in.

Exploring incorporation: Some landlords might find it beneficial to hold properties through a corporate structure, leveraging different tax rates and available deductions under corporation tax rules.

Enhancing property management: Efficient property management can reduce costs and increase rental income, helping to offset some of the financial impacts of the tax changes.

Seeking professional advice: Regular consultations with financial and tax advisors can help landlords navigate the changing landscape, ensuring they utilise all available tax reliefs and adjust to new regulations effectively.

Long-term considerations

Regulatory environment: Landlords need to stay informed about further regulatory changes as the government continues to refine its approach to the housing market.

Economic factors: Changes in the broader economy, such as interest rates and the financial health of the rental market, will also influence landlords’ decisions and profitability.

Additional support and resources

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) guidance

Official documentation: HMRC provides comprehensive guides and updates on how to handle mortgage interest tax relief for landlords. This includes detailed instructions for filling out tax returns and specific sections relevant to property income.

Online calculators and tools: HMRC offers online tools and calculators to help landlords calculate their tax liabilities, including the mortgage interest tax credit.

Webinars and workshops: HMRC frequently hosts educational sessions that can help landlords understand their tax responsibilities and stay compliant with current regulations.

Professional financial or tax advice

Chartered accountants: Engaging a chartered accountant who specialises in property taxation can provide tailored advice that considers individual circumstances, potentially saving money and avoiding pitfalls.

Tax advisors: Professional tax advisors can offer strategies specifically designed to optimise tax efficiency under the current tax regime.

Legal consultation: For complex portfolios or corporate-held properties, legal advice might be necessary to navigate the intricacies of property law and taxation.

Educational resources

Books and publications: There are many comprehensive books covering UK property investment and tax planning that can provide valuable insights and strategies.

Online forums and communities: Engaging with communities, such as property investment forums or social media groups, can offer peer advice and firsthand accounts of managing property taxes.

Seminars and conferences: Attending industry seminars and conferences can keep landlords informed about the latest trends, laws, and strategies in property management and investment.

Government and nonprofit organisations

Local government resources: Many local councils offer resources and advice for landlords about local regulations and supports available, including tax relief programs.

Nonprofit Organisations: Organisations dedicated to supporting landlords and property investors may provide additional resources, including guides, newsletters, and consultancy services.

Software and technology solutions

Accounting Software: Software solutions designed for property management can help landlords keep track of income, expenses, and tax obligations efficiently.

Mobile apps: Various mobile apps are available to help landlords manage properties, calculate taxes, and stay organised.

In summary

Understanding and navigating the tax relief available for mortgage interest in the UK is crucial for both homeowners and landlords, particularly in light of the recent legislative changes. While homeowners no longer benefit from this relief, landlords must adapt to a system that offers relief through a basic rate tax credit rather than direct deductions. This shift significantly alters the financial landscape for property investment, especially for higher and additional rate taxpayers.

For landlords, the change emphasises the need for diligent financial planning and possibly restructuring investments to maintain profitability. It is vital to stay informed about ongoing changes in tax law and market conditions that could affect investment returns. Regular consultation with tax professionals and making use of sophisticated financial tools and resources can provide the necessary insights to navigate these complexities effectively.

By staying proactive and well-informed, landlords can optimise their property investments in alignment with current tax regulations, ensuring that they not only comply with the law but also secure the best possible financial outcomes. As the property market continues to evolve, adapting strategies in response to tax changes will be key to achieving long-term success in the UK’s dynamic real estate sector.


Can I claim tax relief on mortgage interest in the UK?

As of recent tax reforms, homeowners cannot claim tax relief on mortgage interest. However, landlords can claim a basic rate tax credit of 20% on their mortgage interest payments against rental income.

How has the tax relief for mortgage interest changed for landlords?

Previously, landlords could deduct mortgage interest directly from their rental income. Following changes that started in 2017 and concluded in 2020, this deduction has been replaced by a tax credit system, where landlords receive a basic rate tax credit of 20% on mortgage interest payments.

What are the eligibility criteria to claim this tax relief?

To be eligible for the mortgage interest tax credit, you must be a landlord renting out a property. The mortgage must be for the purchase, improvement, or maintenance of this rental property.

How do I calculate the tax relief on mortgage interest?

Calculate your total mortgage interest payments for the tax year. Multiply this figure by 20% to determine the amount of your tax credit. This credit is then deducted from your tax liability on your Self Assessment tax return.

Can higher or additional rate taxpayers claim more than the basic rate credit?

No, the tax credit is capped at the basic rate of 20%, regardless of your personal tax rate. This means higher and additional rate taxpayers no longer receive tax relief proportionate to their higher tax rates.

What documentation do I need to claim this tax credit?

Keep detailed records and receipts of all mortgage interest payments, as you will need to provide these when filling out your Self Assessment tax return. Accurate documentation is crucial to support your claim.

Are there any deadlines for claiming this tax relief?

Yes, you must claim the tax relief as part of your annual Self Assessment tax return. The deadline for online submissions is January 31st, following the end of the tax year.

Can non-resident landlords claim this tax relief?

Non-resident landlords can also claim the tax credit, but they must follow specific rules regarding their rental income and status. It’s advisable to consult with a tax advisor to understand the precise regulations.

What if I own the rental property through a company?

Properties owned through a company are subject to corporation tax, not personal income tax, and therefore, different rules apply. Companies can still deduct mortgage interest but as a business expense against their profits.

Where can I get more information or assistance with claiming mortgage interest tax relief?

You can access detailed guides and tools on the HMRC website or consult a professional tax advisor to ensure you are claiming correctly and maximising your tax benefits.

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