University property: a way to generate returns and save Income Tax?

As fierce competition for university places in Bristol draws to a close, parents across the country will be considering how they can support their children through university.

According to accountancy firm Saffery Champness, based in Clifton, investing in residential accommodation for their children whilst they are students could allow parents to minimise Income Tax, generate capital growth, and pay their kids an allowance in a tax-efficient manner.

Richard Cartwright, partner in the Bristol office of Saffery Champness explains: “The recession and continued uncertainty in the economic environment have placed unprecedented pressure on parents whose children will be starting university in 2011. Pay freezes and falls in asset values may mean that parents have less disposable income to fund a child’s studies, and the introduction of the 50% tax rate has been a further slap in the face for many.

“Correctly structured, an investment in residential property in a university town can do much to alleviate these pressures. Parents should consider purchasing a house and gifting 1% of the ownership of the property to their child. They can then enter into a partnership agreement allocating their child 100% of the profits stemming from letting the property. This income, which can be used to pay for fees and subsistence, will be assessed on the child. As the child is unlikely to have significant other earnings, this will result in zero or minimal tax.

“Any capital gains made on the property will also be assessed under the Capital Gains Tax regime, resulting in a maximum tax rate of 28%. If the money were invested in an income generating product, it could be taxed at a rate of up to 50%.”