Capital gains tax year-end planning

Capital gains tax year-end planning

Capital gains tax year-end planning

No one wants to pay more tax than they need to and, where possible, disposals should be timed to ensure that the best result is achieved from a tax perspective. Where a disposal is made around the end of the tax year, accelerating or delaying the disposal date can impact on the tax that is paid. This is particularly true this year, as the capital gains tax annual exempt amount falls from £6,000 for 2023/24 to £3,000 for 2024/25.

Don’t waste the exempt amount

Each individual has their own annual exempt amount for capital gains tax purposes. It is set against net gains for the tax year (chargeable gains less allowable losses for the year), but before using up any capital losses from previous tax years. The annual exempt amount is lost if it is not used in the tax year – it cannot be carried forward.

Spouses and civil partners are able to transfer assets between. This is useful from a tax planning perspective. If one spouse or civil partner has already used their annual exempt amount and wants to dispose of an asset that would trigger a capital gain, transferring the asset, or a share in it, to the other spouse or civil partner prior to disposal will enable the unused annual exempt amount to be set against the gain.

Timing considerations

When considering whether it is preferable to make a disposal in 2023/24 or wait until 2024/25, it is helpful to consider the following questions:

  1. Have I used up my annual exempt amount for 2023/24?
  2. Will I be a basic rate, higher or additional rate taxpayer in 2023/24?
  3. Have I realised any losses in 2023/24?
  4. Has my spouse/civil partner used their annual exempt amount for 2023/24?
  5. What rate does my spouse or civil partner pay tax at?
  6. Do I expect to realise gains and/or losses in 2024/25?
  7. What rate do I expect to pay tax at in 2024/25?
  8. What rate do I expect my spouse or civil partner to pay tax at in 2024/25?

If you have not made any disposals in 2023/24, it would be better to realise any gain before 6 April 2024 to take advantage of the higher annual exempt amount for 2023/24. Where a spouse or civil partner’s annual exempt amount is available, this can be accessed too by making a no gain/no loss transfer. Making a disposal in 2023/24 rather than 2024/25 can save a couple up to £1,200 in capital gains tax.

See also  Research & Development Tax Credits

The position is slightly more complicated if losses are involved, as allowable losses for the tax year are set against chargeable gains for the same year before applying the annual exempt amount. Unrelieved losses for earlier years are applied after the annual exempt amount. To the extent that allowable losses of the tax year are not relieved against chargeable gains of that year, they can be carried forward.

If you have unrelieved losses for 2023/24 that exceed the chargeable gain, the annual exempt amount would be lost anyway, so there is nothing to be gained by making the disposal before 6 April 2024. Instead, by delaying it, you will be able to set the 2024/25 annual exempt amount against the gain before using the losses carried forward from 2023/24, reducing the overall bill.

If the 2023/24 annual exempt amount has already been used up, when deciding whether to delay the disposal so that it falls in the 2024/25 tax year, it is also necessary to consider the rate at which the gain would be taxed and the overall tax bill. For example, if you are a basic rate taxpayer in 2023/24 but are likely to be a higher rate taxpayer in 2024/25, it may be better to make the disposal prior to 6 April 2024 so the gain will be taxed at 10% rather than 20% (or 18% rather than 28% where it relates to residential property), particularly if you are likely to make other gains in 2024/25 that will use up the annual exempt amount.

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