How Much Is Capital Gains Tax?

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How much is capital gains tax?

Capital Gains Tax: How Much Is It?

Capital gains tax in the UK is imposed on the sale of an asset that has increased in value. The tax applies to the profit that has been made and not the full amount that you receive from the sale.

Capital Gains Tax was introduced in 1965 and was originally charged at a flat rate of 30%. All assets acquired since then may be subject to the tax.

Some belongings are tax free and if the amount of profit does not exceed your tax free allowance for the relevant tax year you will not pay CGT.

If you are getting rid of an asset that could be subject to the tax, it is important to remember that this is not limited to selling it. Giving away a property as a gift or transferring the title to someone else’s name is still classed as disposal.

In addition, if you swap one asset for something else it could still be subject to the tax. Below you can find more information about capital gains tax and how it can affect your finances.

Photo of a house liable for capital gains tax
Even if you give a property away as a gift it may still be subject to Capital Gains Tax. Photo © Alan Murray-Rust (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Capital Gains Tax on Property

Capital gains tax is payable if you sell a second home or a buy-to-let property. It is not normally applicable when you sell your main residence.

The rates of capital gains tax are different for property than for other assets. Additionally, rates will vary depending upon whether you are a basic rate tax payer or fall into the higher tax rate band.

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Everyone who pays tax has an annual allowance for CGT. If you are charged capital gains tax on the sale of a property, the bill must be paid within 30 days of the completion date.

Photo showing recently sold houses
it is important you report any capital gains you have made on selling a property to HMRC as soon as possible. Photo © Colin Smith (cc-by-sa/2.0)

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Assets That Attract Capital Gains Tax

There is no CGT due on items that have a limited lifespan of less than 50 years. This can be applied to assets like clocks, watches and some antiques. Assets that are charged CGT include the following:

  • A property that is not a main residence or an investment property
  • Personal possessions worth more than £6,000 including jewellery, art and antiques
  • A main residence that is let out for business purposes
  • Business assets such as land and buildings, fixtures and fittings and machinery
  • Shares that are not held in an ISA or PEP
Photo of an investment property
Investment property is normally subject to Capital Gains Tax in the UK, including property you have renovated and sold. Photo © John Parton (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Capital Gains Tax Allowances

Everyone who is employed has a tax free allowance for CGT, check with HMRC to find out the current allowance rates. You are entitled to have this amount of profit from selling an asset before any tax is payable. An asset that is owned jointly with another person effectively doubles the amount of profit that is tax free.

Spouses and civil partners can transfer assets without attracting capital gains tax. The caveat here is that if you transfer an asset to a partner and then it is sold, you can be charged on the profit made during the time that the asset was owned jointly.

It is not possible to carry over a capital gains tax allowance from one tax year to the next.

This article is for guidance only. Please check with HMRC or your financial adviser to find out if you are liable for capital gains tax on your property or assets.

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Can I Avoid Capital Gains Tax?

There are a few scenarios where capital gains tax is not applicable. Profit made from selling your main residence is not subject to CGT but there are still certain criteria that apply. The property must have been used as your main residence for the whole of the period that you have lived there. It must be your only home.

The property must not have been rented out to tenants or lodgers and you must not have run a business from there.

One possible problem that could arise if you have worked from home is when you have declared your house as your business address. Under these circumstances HMRC may require CGT to be paid. Any property that is over 5000 square metres may be subject to the tax.

Inherited property that is sold immediately is not normally subject to CGT but if there is a delay and the value of the property has increased substantially there may be CGT on the extra profit.

Finally, owners who have purchased a house with the intention of renovating and reselling quickly for a profit i.e. flipping houses, will find that the profit on the property is probably subject to capital gains tax.

Photo of a house being renovated
If you bought a house to renovate and then sold it for a profit, your capital gains on the property will likely be subject to tax. Photo © Jim Barton (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Capital Gains Tax Rates

Each tax year runs from 6 April to the following 5 April. Any taxable gains made during that period must be reported if they are above your taxable allowance. If the tax is not paid within the allotted timescale a penalty and interest may be added to the bill.

Rates of CGT are different depending on the assets you have sold and depending upon which income tax bracket is applicable. Basic rate taxpayers will be charged 18% on the profit from the sale of a property (not main residence) and 10% on the profits from other assets.

Higher rate taxpayers pay 28% on profit from selling a property and 20% from the sale of other assets. You can find online calculators that will help you to assess how much capital gains tax is due.

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