Council Tax & Empty Properties
There are a vast amount of taxes that you will be expected to pay on a property that is empty, and what these taxes are will depend on what the property is being used for.
The first tax on properties is the dreaded Council Tax. If you are using the house as your second home, meaning that the property is empty for a lot of the time, then you may be eligible to a Discount On Your Council Tax. The discount you are eligible to can often depend on the location of the property and which council tax band it falls under.
A lot of local authorities will operate different systems in terms of what taxes you will have to pay. If you are unlucky, some local councils may hold a negative view on second home users, so may punish them by charging more tax. Typically, a discount of 10-50% of the council tax bill will apply to second homes.
Who Can Apply For The Discount?Properties may be exempt from council tax if they are unoccupied and unfurnished. Exemptions are available for up to six months, and the property must be unoccupied for the entire period. This period is extended to 12 months if the property must remain unoccupied because of alterations necessary to make it habitable.
If you are using the second home as a holiday home, then a local council is likely to be less sympathetic with you in terms of your council tax payments, and what they will expect you to pay. If, however, your work requires you to have a second home and you are provided with the property as part of your work, then they will offer you a 50% discount on your council tax payments.
Councils also have the power to give a discount of up to 50% for properties which have been empty and unfurnished for more than six months, which could come in handy of you are trying to sell your property but not having much luck. The best thing to do is to contact your local council and explain your situation. It will be your local council that will have the final word in terms of whether or not you get a discount on the council tax.
Capital Gains Tax on Second PropertiesFor 2012-13, a capital gains rate tax of 18% is chargeable on individual gains up to £34,370 and 28% from £34,371 (the tax rate you use depends on the total amount of your taxable income, so you need to work this out first). You will normally be charged for capital gains tax if your property is worth more than you paid for it when you sell it. Having said this, your first £10,600 of total taxable gains will be tax free.
It is worth remembering that when you are trying to work out how much you will be charged, it will work in the same way as a lot of other taxes do, so you will be able to deduct some of the costs of buying the property. If you end up losing money on the property, you may be able to set some of that cost against other money you have made from things such as return if you are a landlord.Whether you are thinking of selling your property or using a property as a second home, you should always make sure your local council is aware of this so you can find out which reductions you are eligible for.