CGT changes prior to Autumn statement

Robyn Hall

December 2, 2014

The changes bring off-shore buyers in-line with UK residents, in a spirit of ‘fairness’, whilst providing a much needed tax boost to the exchequer. The government are also cracking down on UK residents electing second homes as their main residence.

HMRC have now confirmed the new non-resident CGT will be realised only on profit made on divestment and gains made before April 2015 will be ring-fenced, either by re-basing values to the implementation date or by a time-apportionment for the whole gain.

There are a number of different rates: 18% of the gain for lower rate tax payers, 20% if the property is rented and held in a corporate wrapper and 28% for higher rate tax payers and people who have paid ATED CGT since 2013. Existing allowances which can be deducted from CGT remain in place. Broadly these are:

• The Annual Exempt Amount: £10,900 (2013-14); all joint owners can use their exemption

• Stamp Duty Land Tax, VAT, fees or commission for professional advice or services, for example, legal and estate agency fees

• Improvement costs to increase the value of the property

• Any other capital losses from other assets in the UK

There has also been clarity on the position for non-residents having a home in the UK. They will obtain private residence relief (PRR) (i.e. relief from CGT if the property is your main home), if they meet the ’90 day rule’ i.e. the PRR will be available for the tax year where the property is used as a main residence for more than 90 days. The rule will now be applied to UK second home owners as well.

HMRC have also made clear that diversely owned funds, such as LCP’s real estate funds, will be exempt, providing they meet the new “narrowly controlled company” test. This will be put in place to deter individuals from transferring their interests into non-resident companies to escape the CGT charge.

The implementation of this CGT is not expected to impact on the property market. As a tax, realisable only on gains, the absence of CGT has been a bonus for international buyers, not a fundamental driver. The advance warning last year did not have a negative effect on investors’ appetite.

Prices in 2014 in Central London, the heartland of international investment, have seen a 12.8% annual increase with average prices reaching £1.7m in Q3. Monthly Land Registry figures just released for October also show continued levels of growth in the two prime boroughs which make up Central London.

Westminster has stormed ahead this month, confounding naysayers, with an 18.1% annual increase, bringing average prices to £988,362. In the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where properties are more expensive, averaging £1,280,170, growth has been lower but at 9.5% over last year, remains above long term trend. Any holdbacks in the Royal Borough are not due to non-resident CGT, but rather due to the usual investor inertia prior to a general election and the prospect of a potential Mansion Tax.

Naomi Heaton, CEO of LCP, said: “It is to be expected that PCL growth will taper off in the short term, given the high growth levels already seen and the traditional market jitters before any general election when transactions can fall as much as 15%. However, there is no evidence that the long term fundamentals for growth will not remain in place and the new non-resident CGT in 2015 will not have an impact. However, the extent of the post-election bounce back will depend on whether the Chancellor brings any surprises out of the hat in the Autumn Statement. On balance, he is unlikely to seek to upset the Conservatives core electorate and the need to remain an internationally attractive market may hold him back on any more foreigner bashing for the time being. ”

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