Lower CGT Bills by Splitting Assets with Your Partner

If you’re thinking about selling an asset that’s appreciated in value, such as a second home or some stocks, there are ways to potentially save money on your tax bill. SJP investigates the world of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) and the strategies you can employ to reduce what you owe.

What is Capital Gains Tax?

CGT is essentially a tax you pay on the extra money you make when you sell something that’s gone up in value since you first got it. It’s not about the total amount you receive, but the profit – sometimes known as a ‘chargeable gain’.

Which assets can attract CGT?

If you’re thinking about the belongings you have, you might wonder: “Which of these could be taxed?” Well, this tax typically applies to items like:

  • Stocks and shares that aren’t inside an ISA or pension (these are safe from CGT)
  • Assets for business
  • Items you own that are valued over £6,000
  • Properties other than your main residence. So, a holiday home or a room you rent out now and then could be taxed when you sell it.

Breaking Down the Numbers: How Much Would I Owe?

Your CGT rate is intertwined with your income. Depending on what you sell and your tax rate, here’s how it looks:

  • Higher/Additional Rate Taxpayers: If you’re selling a property that’s not your main home, you’ll be taxed at 28% on the profit above your CGT allowance. For other assets, the rate is 20%.
  • Basic Rate Taxpayers: The tax is 18% for properties and 10% for other assets. But watch out! If your profits are significant and push you into a higher tax bracket, you might end up paying more.

A silver lining? Some business assets could get a friendly 10% rate thanks to Business Asset Disposal Relief.

And remember, the tax only targets the profit you made, not the whole selling price.

What’s My Annual CGT Allowance?

For the tax year 2023/24, each individual has a £6,000 CGT allowance. This means you can profit up to £6,000 from selling your assets without paying any tax. But there’s a twist for 2024/2025 – this allowance will shrink to £3,000. And another crucial point: if you don’t use this allowance one year, you can’t save it for the next.

Splitting Assets: A Tax-Saving Strategy with Your Partner

One neat trick to reduce your CGT bill is sharing assets with your spouse or civil partner. How does this work?

If you’re about to sell something that’d push your profits beyond the £6,000 allowance, you can transfer the asset to your spouse or civil partner, given they haven’t exhausted their allowance. They can then sell it, and you both benefit from your individual tax-free allowances. This way, both of you could end up paying less or even no tax!

Here’s a quick example: Imagine you have shares that gained £17,000 in value since you bought them. If you sell them, you’ll go beyond your tax-free allowance. But if you split these shares with your partner, each of you would only gain £8,500 from the sale. After deducting your tax-free allowance, you’d only be taxed on £2,500 each.

However, remember a few things:

  • This strategy is for couples who are married, in a civil partnership, and living together. If you’re not legally tied but share a household, gifting assets could bring about a CGT bill.
  • When you give away an asset, your partner legally owns it. If you trust each other with shared finances, this shouldn’t be an issue. But things could get tricky if you separate.

Other Ways to Minimise CGT

1. Staggering Sales: Don’t rush to sell everything at once. If you sell assets over different tax years, you can use multiple CGT allowances. For example, if you sell part of your stocks on 3 April and the rest on 6 April, you get to use two years’ worth of allowances.

2. Use Your Losses: If you’ve sold something at a loss, don’t fret! You can use that loss to reduce the taxable profit from another asset sale.

3. Invest in ISAs or Pensions: Over the years, place more of your assets in ISAs or pensions. This shelters them from CGT. One strategy is the ‘Bed and ISA’ – you sell shares and then immediately buy them back within an ISA. This safeguards any future gains from tax.

In Conclusion

Financial planning can be a maze, but with the right knowledge, you can navigate it efficiently. Knowing how CGT works and the strategies to minimise it can lead to significant savings. If ever in doubt, consult a financial advisor who can offer tailored advice to your situation. And always keep an eye out for changes in tax rules and regulations!