Understanding Capital Gains: Timing, Business Asset Disposal Relief, and Investors' Relief

Cover Image for Understanding Capital Gains: Timing, Business Asset Disposal Relief, and Investors' Relief

| Courtney Price

Capital gains tax (CGT) stands out for its complexity and the significant impact it can have on individuals and businesses alike. A fundamental aspect that taxpayers must grasp is the timing of a capital gain, which is crucial for accurately determining tax obligations.

In Minor Gains: What You Need to Be Aware Of Carl Bayley explains how specific reliefs such as Business Asset Disposal Relief and Investors' Relief can offer substantial tax savings under the right circumstances.

When Does the Capital Gain Actually Arise?

The timing of a capital gain is a critical element that dictates when the gain is considered for taxation purposes. In the UK, the date of the "unconditional contract" is pivotal. For property transactions in England or Wales, this refers to the exchange of contracts. In Scotland, it's the completion of missives. The exact process may vary in Northern Ireland, but the underlying principle remains consistent across the UK: it's the formal agreement date, not the completion date, that determines when the gain arises.

This timing is particularly relevant towards the end of the financial year. For example, if contracts are exchanged on the 1st of April, the gain falls into the previous tax year (e.g., 2023/24), and CGT is calculated based on the rates and annual exemption of that year. This nuance can significantly affect tax planning and liabilities.

Business Asset Disposal Relief: A Closer Look

Formerly known as Entrepreneurs' Relief, Business Asset Disposal Relief offers a favorable 10% rate of CGT on qualifying business disposals, up to a lifetime limit of £1 million per individual. This relief is designed to support entrepreneurs by reducing the tax burden associated with selling a business or shares in a personal company. To qualify, individuals must be officers or employees of the company and hold at least 5% of the shares and voting rights. The assets must have been owned for at least two years before the sale.

One notable aspect is the priority usage of the basic rate band, which can influence the tax treatment of other gains. However, the recent reduction of the lifetime limit from £10 million to £1 million has curtailed the benefit for some taxpayers.

Investors' Relief: Encouraging Investment

Investors' Relief parallels Business Asset Disposal Relief in offering a 10% CGT rate, but it targets external investors rather than entrepreneurs. Eligible investors in unlisted trading companies can benefit from this relief on gains from new ordinary shares held for at least three years. The significant distinction here is that Investors' Relief has a higher lifetime limit of £10 million, providing a substantial incentive for investment in growing businesses.

This relief is particularly appealing to "business angels" and other non-executive directors who invest in companies without taking an active role in their management. It encourages long-term investment in the UK's entrepreneurial ecosystem by offering a reduced tax rate on successful exits.

Understanding the intricacies of CGT, including the critical timing of gains and the availability of reliefs like Business Asset Disposal Relief and Investors' Relief, is essential for taxpayers looking to navigate the UK's tax landscape effectively. These mechanisms not only influence immediate tax liabilities but also play a significant role in long-term financial and business planning. As the tax year progresses and regulations evolve, staying informed and seeking professional advice can help maximise tax efficiency and compliance.

For the full session, please click here. Carl Bayley covers the following topics during this course:

  • A brief recap of the current CGT regime, including reporting requirements.
  • Maximising the deductible base cost: what is allowable?
  • Base cost quirks to watch out for
  • CGT reliefs: savings and deferrals
  • Practical tips on calculating CGT for clients.

The contents of this article are meant as a guide only and are not a substitute for professional advice. The author/s accept no responsibility for any action taken, or refrained from, as a result of the material contained in this document. Specific advice should be obtained before acting or refraining from acting, in connection with the matters dealt with in this article.

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About the Author

Courtney Price is a content creator for CPDStore UK. Courtney joined us during the COVID-19 pandemic and has been involved in the ever-evolving world of accounting ever since. Her passion for reading and writing, coupled with her degree in copywriting from Vega School has allowed her to channel her creativity and expertise into crafting engaging and informative content.


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