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Looking forward to protect your family and your finances

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One thing that the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us is the need to keep things in perspective and concentrate on the important things in life. This has meant that planning ahead to protect your family and your finances is increasingly important. To do this you will need to keep updated on tax changes including the recent announcement relating to Capital Gains Tax (CGT).

Protecting your family

This is not related to tax, but involves asking what would happen to your family or your business finances if the worst happened?

This has been brought home to us all during the pandemic, and involves ill-health as well as death. We have seen a greater willingness for farming families to engage in these difficult discussions in recent weeks. In some cases merely getting an issue out in the open makes everyone feel better, while in others it may be that an insurance or other investment solution is appropriate.

Planning ahead

Again the most important point is to take the first step and discuss the issues within the family. In too many cases the parties think they know what other family members want in the future, but have not openly talked about them.

We have discussed on this page in recent months the likely changes to Inheritance Tax, and we cover the review into CGT below. None us know what changes are going to take place, but it is safe to assume that rates of tax are not going to fall and reliefs are not going to be made more generous.

Thus there is a case for undertaking succession planning sooner rather than later. All businesses are different, so it is not possible to set out a blueprint, and getting the next generation involved in decision making is as important as who owns the assets.

The final point in this section is more mundane, but still important. Are there any day-to-day tasks that only one family member knows how to undertake? If so, these need to be documented or ideally other members made familiar with procedures, just in case the worst happens.

Capital Gains Tax changes

The Chancellor of the Exchequer will be looking for ways to raise extra revenue to reduce his budget deficit. On 14 July it was announced that the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has been asked to carry out a review into CGT. The OTS is an independent body and the Chancellor will not necessarily implement all the recommendations. However, the breadth of the remit given to the OTS suggests that HMRC are open to radical changes.

Amongst the instructions given to the OTS are:

  • Look for opportunities to simplify the system.
  • Identify areas that distort behaviours.
  • Look at allowances, exemptions, reliefs, and the treatment of losses.
  • Consider the interaction of how capital gains are taxed compared to other types of income.

It has to be said that the existing system is extremely complicated with a multitude of different reliefs and exemptions so some simplification would be welcome.

So what could the Chancellor do?

  1. Increase the rates of tax – it is certainly the case that rates are lower than in the past. The top rate for residential properties is 28% and land 20%, whereas at times in the past the top rate has been 40%, the same as Income Tax. However, in the past, the cost of an asset could be increased by inflation so the gains on land sales were much lower. Indexations of base costs were scrapped in 2008.
  2. Reduce the Annual Exemption – this is currently £12,300 and means small gains each year don’t have to be declared to HMRC.
  3. Restrict Private Residence Relief – currently no tax is paid on the sale of a main residence. This is an expensive relief but removing it would be unpopular.
  4. Further reform of Entrepreneurs’ Relief – which has already been slashed from a lifetime limit of £10 million to £1 million in the March 2020 Budget. This allows tax of 10% to be paid on certain sales of business assets.
  5. Removing rebasing of assets on death – this was one of the recommendations of the OTS in their Inheritance Tax review last year. At present land can be sold shortly after inheriting it without paying any CGT.
  6. Restriction on Holdover Relief – which allows land to be gifted without making a capital gain. This allows the capital gain to be deferred until it is sold at a later date.

We will have to wait until later in the year to see what the OTS actually propose.

Find out more about our tax saving services.


For more information about how these tax changes may impact your farming business, get in touch with Steven by calling 07772 812274 or email steven.brown@armstrongwatson.co.uk

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