Government’s proposal to start to levy UK Capital Gains Tax

The long awaited Consultation Paper, relating to the Government’s proposal to start to levy UK Capital Gains Tax on gains realised on UK-sited residential property by non-residents, was published this month.

Some of the measures proposed in the Consultation Paper are as expected but there are some areas which are still not clear but no doubt the consultation process will flush out many of these and help to ensure we get legislation introduced next Finance Bill (2015) which will have clarified the situation.

The main proposals are:

  • a chargeable gain will arise on residential property sited in the UK when disposed of after 6 April 2015 by non-residents
  • there is no reference in the Consultation Paper to any form of re-basing to establish a cost base valuation of the property as at 6 April 2015; so it is assumed that there will be some measure of relief in the form of a straight-line time apportionment of the gain over the total period of ownership of the property (similar to Principle Private Residence relief)
  • the definition of residential property includes student accommodation provided via the private sector ie off campus accommodation by private landlords
  • the wider definition also makes it clear that the new charge will apply to “property used or suitable for use as a dwelling i.e. a place that currently is, or has the potential to be, used as a residence” so properties currently being converted into accommodation will be caught
  • the annual Capital Gains Tax Allowance (currently £11,000 in 2014/15) will be available to the non-resident
  • the Capital Gains Tax rate will be calculated by reference to all other UK sourced income that remains taxable in the UK for the non-resident in order to establish the tax band appropriate to the gain on the property – this measure may impact those in receipt of Government  Service pensions particularly harshly as part, or all, of their basic rate band could already be assigned to their Government Service pension which remains taxable in the UK
  • the new charge will affect not only individuals but also many structures such as partnerships or non-resident trustees or funds

Non-UK resident companies were already targeted by a tax charge introduced a few years ago (the ATED scheme) for properties of more than £2m; the new regime will be extended to such companies but it is not yet clear how the inter-action with the ATED scheme will work in all cases

The proposed UK treatment is in line with the tax treatment of similar gains in many other jurisdictions, although the implications of the different Double Tax Agreements may impact whether there will be any further capital gains tax to pay in the country of residence

There is no specific reference in the Consultation Paper to losses made but it is expected that such losses will be available to carry forward but whether this will be of benefit to a non-resident will depend upon personal circumstances

The consultation process closes on 12 June 2014