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Capital taxes

Capital gains tax (CGT) rates

The current rates of CGT are 10%, to the extent that any income tax basic rate band is available, and 20% thereafter. Higher rates of 18% and 28% apply for certain gains; mainly chargeable gains on residential properties that do not qualify for private residence relief.

The rate for disposals qualifying for Entrepreneurs' Relief is 10% with a lifetime limit of £10 million for each individual. Entrepreneurs' Relief is targeted at working directors and employees of companies who own at least 5% of the ordinary share capital in the company and the owners of unincorporated businesses. In 2016/17 a new relief, Investors' Relief, was introduced which also provides a 10% rate with a lifetime limit of £10 million for each individual. The main beneficiaries of this relief are external investors in unquoted trading companies.

Example of CGT rates 2016/17

Annie, a higher rate taxpayer, will pay tax at these rates on the following chargeable gains after deduction of the annual exemption:

Type Amount of gain Tax rate
Eligible for Entrepreneurs' Relief £100,000 10%
A residential property £30,000 28%
Other gains £10,000 20%

The annual exemption can be used in the most favourable way for the taxpayer - that is against the residential property gains in this example.

Inheritance tax (IHT) nil rate band

The nil rate band has remained at £325,000 since April 2009 and is set to remain frozen at this amount until April 2021.

IHT residence nil rate band

An additional nil rate band is being introduced for deaths on or after 6 April 2017 where an interest in a main residence passes to direct descendants. The amount of relief is being phased in over four years; starting at £100,000 in the first year and rising to £175,000 for 2020/21. For many married couples and civil partners the relief is effectively doubled as each individual has a main nil rate band and each will potentially benefit from the residence nil rate band.

The additional band can only be used in respect of one residential property which does not have to be the main family home but must at some point have been a residence of the deceased. Restrictions apply where estates are in excess of £2 million.

Where a person dies before 6 April 2017, their estate will not qualify for the relief. A surviving spouse may be entitled to an increase in the residence nil rate band if the spouse who died earlier has not used, or was not entitled to use, their full residence nil rate band. The calculations involved are potentially complex but the increase will often result in a doubling of the residence nil rate band for the surviving spouse.

Downsizing

The residence nil rate band may also be available when a person downsizes or ceases to own a home on or after 8 July 2015 where assets of an equivalent value, up to the value of the residence nil rate band, are passed on death to direct descendants.

Comment

The potential increase in the nil rate band is to be welcomed by many individuals but the increase has introduced considerable complexity to IHT. From April 2017 we have three nil rate bands to consider. The standard nil rate band has been a part of the legislation from the start of IHT in 1986. In 2007 the ability to utilise the unused nil rate band of a deceased spouse was introduced enabling many surviving spouses to have a nil rate band of up to £650,000. By 6 April 2020 some surviving spouses will be able to add £350,000 in respect of the residence nil rate band to arrive at a total nil rate band of £1 million. However this will only be achieved by careful planning and, in some cases, it may be better for the first deceased spouse to have given some assets to the next generation and use up some or all of the available nil rate bands.

For many individuals, the residence nil rate band will be important but individuals will need to revisit their wills to ensure that the relief will be available and efficiently utilised.

Employee Shareholder Status to be abolished

Employee Shareholder Status (ESS) was made available from 1 September 2013 and enables employee shareholders, who agreed to give up certain statutory employment rights, to receive at least £2,000 of shares in their employer or parent company free of income tax and NICs. They also benefit from a CGT exemption on the eventual gains on shares with an original value of up to £50,000. This was subject to a lifetime limit of £100,000 for arrangements entered into after 16 March 2016.

These tax advantages linked to shares awarded under ESS will be abolished for arrangements entered into on or after 1 December 2016. The government has also announced that the status itself will be closed to new arrangements at the next legislative opportunity.

Comment

This change is being made in response to evidence suggesting that the status is primarily being used for tax planning instead of supporting a more flexible workforce.