Up to 13,000 landlords in just one London borough have been identified as failing to declare their rental income, prompting estimates that unpaid tax in the capital is costing the public purse nearly £200m.
Newham council in east London, the first to introduce a compulsory borough-wide licensing scheme for landlords in 2013, shared their names and property addresses with HM Revenue & Customs. Newham, which has 27,000 registered landlords, said it understands that 13,000 had not registered for self-assessment, which is generally required if a property owner receives £2,500 a year or more in rent. #HMRC would not confirm the figure.
The council estimated that unpaid tax by landlords is costing the public purse nearly £200m in London – and far more nationally.
In a letter sent to the chancellor, Philip Hammond, the mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, said: “It is our understanding that, to date, up to 13,000 Newham landlords are of interest to HMRC, where there are discrepancies between declared income and our records, with potentially significant financial implication for the exchequer.”
Newham is battling with the Department for Communities and Local Government to have its licensing scheme renewed, following a 2015 clampdown by the government, which said licensing imposes “unnecessary additional costs” on landlords. Neighbouring borough Redbridge has already had its application for landlord licensing rejected.
Wales told the chancellor in his letter: “Our core grant funding has halved since 2010-11, that’s less money for our schools, less money for social care, and less money for housing. I urge you to assess the additional benefits of Newham’s licensing scheme in assisting the exchequer to address tax evasion by landlords.”
Newham said it understands that HMRC is currently contacting local landlords who have failed to register their rental revenues. The tax authorities have the power to claw back unpaid tax over 20 years, with penalties of up to 100% of the tax demanded.