The tax man is continuing to wage a financial war against landlords as the countdown to self-assessment filing day winds down.

The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) deadline for filing returns and paying tax for the year to April 5, 2016 is January 31.

Although this seems some way off, taking out weekends, bank holidays and days off over Christmas and the New Year leaves around 20 working days to sort out the paperwork.

With HMRC taking a hard-nosed attitude to making landlords pay income and capital gains taxes in full and on time, that’s barely enough time to process invoices and receipts, check the figures and fill in the returns.

£92 million ‘lost’ tax recovered

HMRC has also revealed that 13,000 errant landlords have paid £92 million in undisclosed tax, interest and penalties on their rental profits since September 2013.

The online guidance has had 280,000 views since October, which suggests more disclosures are in the pipeline.

“The Let Property Campaign gives you an opportunity to bring your tax affairs up to date if you’re an individual landlord letting out residential property in the UK or abroad and to get the best possible terms to pay the tax you owe,” says HMRC.

Buy to let tax checklist

Landlords who need to file a self-assessment return this year need to watch some points:

  • Wear and tear rules changed on April 6 – Until April 5, the old wear and tear allowance applies as 10% of gross rents for furnished buy to let homes. From April 6, the new rules apply for unfurnished and furnished homes
  • Travel expenses are a target for tax inspectors. Business mileage for property businesses run from home start at the place of business, ie the let property and not home to and from a let property
  • Don’t forget to charge a home-as-office expense at the flat rate of £4 a week for minimal use. Heavy home office users can follow detailed online guidance to maximise the claim

To prepare for next year’s phasing in of the new mortgage interest relief for higher rate (40% and 45% taxpayers), look at if shifting some of the rental profit can be moved to a spouse to reduce the impact.

File a declaration of trust and Form 17 with HMRC by April 6 to gain the most effective tax advantage.

These rules and deadlines apply to expat buy to let owners in the same way as they do to UK resident landlords.