The changes recently made in the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) regime are more far-reaching than has generally been understood. In this article, we look at the impact of the changes and work out who are the winners and losers.

Losers

Business asset owners

Where a person disposes of a business asset held for more than two years, the effective rate of CGT for a higher-rate taxpayer will increase from 10 per cent to 18 per cent due to the abolition of CGT ‘taper relief’ from 6 April 2008.

According to the Tax Faculty of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, the abolition of indexation relief will significantly increase the CGT charge for those who hold assets acquired before 6 April 1998.

Particularly badly hit by the changes will be those who hold business assets for the longer term, for example farming businesses and furnished holiday lettings businesses.

Winners

Non-business asset owners

The current taper period for non-business assets is ten years, which complicates the situation somewhat. The application of non-business taper relief means that the minimum effective CGT rate on such assets is 24 per cent for a higher-rate taxpayer, so many higher-rate taxpayers with non-business assets are likely to be better off disposing of assets after 6 April 2008 and paying CGT at 18 per cent. However, the benefit or otherwise depends on the amount (if any) of the available ‘nil-band’ below which CGT is not payable (currently £9,200 per annum).

For basic-rate taxpayers, the effects are limited but mean that the effective tax charge on non-business assets held for five years or more rises.

If you are considering any significant financial transaction, take professional advice before you act. Many actions that look good from one perspective may be very ill-advised from another. All good financial planning is based on in-depth knowledge of the family and its financial and personal circumstances.