Or is HMRC undermining it?
- “Everyone” knows a capital gain on your own residence is “tax exempt”.
- “Everyone” knows offshore gains are “tax exempt”. Isn’t this in the Press on a regular basis?
Hence, people with “circumstances” which in reality encompass an awful lot of the nation, may actually discover that they need professional advice, because what they thought was tax exempt is not – in reality.
Things which may affect the above “tax exempt” analysis potentially include:-
a). Being UK tax resident.
b). Not being UK tax resident, but having property here.
(That just about covers everyone!)
Crucially, Private Residence Relief is a relief for qualifying periods of ownership. This may (or may not) include the whole period of ownership as case law shows. It is a very complex area; plus the changes in the October 2018 Budget may reduce the length of qualifying periods, particularly for those involved in “strange” lifestyle matters, such as moving house for career, inheriting property, getting divorced etc.
For many people their family home is the most valuable asset they will ever own.
There are opportunities to plan to mitigate tax. Such steps are lawful and (presuming you love and respect your family more than HMRC) I believe, appropriate.
The only thing to note is, when you accidentally fall into assumptions (1) or (2) noted above, not only will HMRC lawfully demand the tax, plus interest for not paying on time, but also penalties. The penalties may be up to 200% of the original tax, so you could be paying 3x the original undeclared bill. For those not of an arithmetic mind, for a typical 28% tax rate on a residential property that is 84% of the gain, going to the Government. In other words on a gain of £100,000, that is £84,000 plus interest that could go to the Government, just because you assumed ….
Of course, some people may say well that still leaves 16% of the gain, but that excludes interest, and experience says trauma and cost of getting caught. Plus those who actually wished to use the money may have to sell their dream home. Maybe leading to further complications?
However, with appropriate planning and making the right tax elections in some circumstances, the gain may be legitimately eliminated altogether. A much better result!
- Get advice.
- Get it right.
- Document it.
No one likes spending money on professional advice – until they haven’t!