x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Taxes and liabilities when the family home is rented out

On your side: The National's resident consumer advocate answers questons on taxes and liabilities when the family home is rented out.

The HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs) Non Resident Landlord Scheme taxes the UK rental income of non-resident landlords. Toby Melville / Reuters
The HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs) Non Resident Landlord Scheme taxes the UK rental income of non-resident landlords. Toby Melville / Reuters


If you decide to let a property while out of the UK, you should start by registering with the HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs) Non Resident Landlord Scheme. This is a scheme for taxing the UK rental income of non-resident landlords and requires UK letting agents to deduct basic rate tax from any rent they collect for non-resident landlords unless the agent has authority to pay the particular landlord his rental income gross, that is without deduction, which will be the case for you. To work out your taxable rental profit, subtract allowable expenses that you incur then deduct any allowances you are entitled to. Allowable expenses can include: water rates, council tax, gas and electricity; maintenance and repairs to the property (but not improvements) and contents insurance; interest on a mortgage to buy the property; costs of services, including the wages of gardeners and cleaners; letting agents' fees; legal fees for lets of a year or less, or for renewing a lease of less than 50 years; accountant's fees; rents and service charges; other direct costs such as phone calls, stationery and advertising for new tenants.Retain all paperwork relating to costs as you may be asked to produce evidence of expenditure. The net income is subject to tax if this is above the annual personal allowance, which stands at £8,105 (Dh44,373) in the current tax year.

I changed jobs at the start of this year, but my previous employer has told me that they will be making a case against me in the Dubai court saying I have joined their competitor company unless I pay them Dh30,000. There was a non-competition clause in my last contract, but I am not in the same line of work. I previously worked for a property agent, but no longer have anything to do with property. I don't see that I am working for a competitor, although my old boss is trying to say that I am still selling.I don't have the money to hire a lawyer, so what can I do? I am very worried that I could end up having to pay lots of money that I don't have when I have not done anything wrong. CC, Dubai

In this situation there is no need for you to have your own lawyer and you are able to defend yourself in court. You will have to deny the charge even though the burden of proof is with your previous employer. As the employer is claiming that you have joined a competitor, he will have to prove this. I suggest that you ask your current employer for a copy of their licence and a formal letter confirming the nature of their business. Note also that you must appear in court as if you do not deny the charges, the court can make a judgement based solely on what your previous employer claims. Should you win the case, you will not have to pay anything and all legal and court charges will be borne by your previous employer.

I run a family business and we have employed a waiter for many years. His salary has always been quite low as he received tips from customers and a bonus when the restaurant has done well. We are now planning to promote him to a role as a manager with a much higher salary. I understand that if he leaves, his end of service gratuity will be based in his new salary, even if he has been paid that for just a few months. I'd like to know if we can pay him his gratuity that has built up to date and start a new period of employment when he starts the new role. ML, Dubai

This would be in breach of UAE Labour Law and the full period of service must be used as the basis for calculating the end of service gratuity, using the final salary figure. Even if he has a new contract, his period of service must date from when he was first employed.

Several years ago, when I was living in the United States, I invested a few thousand dollars in a small company, although one that had proper shares and was listed. I have now heard that the company has gone bankrupt. What happens to the stock I bought, or to the bonds the company also issued? CH, Al Ain

According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, a company that files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy can still trade securities until a resolution is reached, although bondholders will stop receiving interest and principal payments, and stockholders will stop receiving dividends. If a reorganisation agreement is reached, bondholders may receive stock in exchange for bonds, new bonds, or even a combination of the two. Stockholders may be asked to exchange old shares for new reissued shares, although they won't necessarily equal the value of the old shares.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com