Exit plan – move in before selling up to avoid CGTMake Text Bigger
This weekend I received an email from Cissie asking “If I move into a buy to let property which has been let for several years, and sell it after 6 months or a year, can I avoid CGT ? “
It’s a very interesting question, one which is close to my own heart as my parents investigated that strategy before jumping in head first. There isn’t a black and white Yes or No answer to this one, as my accountant often says to me “it depends”.
My parents are in their 60’s and built up a small portfolio in the late 1990’s. They have been cashing in on their gains since about 2005 to fund their retirement, continually downsizing by moving into properties which they previously rented. Tax is obviously a consideration for them, they knew gains made on the sale of their own home were not subject to capital gains tax and wondered how this would affect them if they moved into properties they had previously let.
Most of the properties they purchased are nice family homes so the rental yields are not that great. They were only really interested in capital growth and as history has proven, they have been very fortunate in this regard. They have continued to downsize every two years or so. Their strategy has been to move into the properties which provide the lowest income, typically the larger properties so this has siuted the downsizing strategy very nicely.
The key to this the CGT position is being able to prove absolutely that you have moved in and the former buy to let property is now unquestionably your principal private residence (i.e. your first home). Expect to have to produce the following evidence if you are investigated by HMRC:-
- bank statements at the new address
- registration with local doctors and dentists at the new address
- credit cards registered at the new address
- registered to vote at the new address
- council tax bills in your name)s) at the new address.
My advice to any landlord or property investor is to employ the services of a professional accountant, my parents use the same one as me. A good accountant will save you far more than they charge, not just in tax but in helping you not to make daft mistakes. Regardless of how many times HMRC tell us that “tax doesn’t have to be taxing” – IT IS! I’d go as far as to say it’s an absolute minefield when it comes to property investment and trading and unless tax is your full time occupation. The chances of most landlords actually being able to complete a tax return properly, claim all expenses and capital items and actually plan to pay the minimal amount of tax is VERY slim without professional assistance.
If you would like to ask a question or share your opinions please use the comments section below or email me – firstname.lastname@example.org
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