What is capital gains tax and how much is it?

Capital gains tax is levied on profits from assets ranging from shares to second homes, buy-to-let properties and personal possessions.

It is traditionally applied at lower rates than income tax because the assets in question tend to be those on which people are taking a risk – whether an entrepreneurial one, or via investments held outside Isas and pensions.

Employment income and savings interest are more guaranteed, and so taxed differently and more heavily.

Capital gains tax is levied on assets ranging from shares to second homes, buy-to-lets and personal possessions

Your main home that you live in, known as your Principal Private Residence, is exempt from CGT. That, plus an annual tax-free allowance of £12,300, has meant CGT is typically levied on wealthier taxpayers.

However, radical future cuts to the CGT allowance announced in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s cash grabbing Autumn Statement make it inevitable that many more people will have to pay it in future. 

How does capital gains tax work?

Capital gains tax is paid on the profits when you sell an asset – what it sells for, less what you paid for it or it was worth when acquired.

Depending on the asset there are reliefs available and each person has a capital gains tax allowance, currently £12,300 each year, to offset against their gains.

Got a tax question? 

Heather Rogers, founder and owner of Aston Accountancy, is This is Money’s tax columnist.

She can answer your questions on any tax topic – tax codes, inheritance tax, income tax, capital gains tax, and much more.

You can write to Heather at experts@thisismoney.co.uk. Please put TAX QUESTION in the subject line.

But the CGT tax-free allowance will be cut to £6,000 in April 2023 and then to £3,000 in April 2024, in the shake-up revealed by Hunt. Find out more about what is changing, including on dividend tax, here.

‘If an asset was transferred to you as a gift, then the value at transfer will be the valuation for acquisition,’ says This is Money’s tax expert Heather Rogers.

‘When the asset is left to you through a will, then the probate value will be the value you are deemed to have acquired it for.

Rogers adds: ‘You can deduct costs of acquisition and disposal if relevant – the estate agent’s and solicitor’s fees on sale, for example. You can also deduct costs where you have spent money and have added value to the asset.’

Regarding CGT rates, if you’re a higher or additional rate taxpayer (40 per cent or 45 per cent respectively) the CGT rate is 28 per cent on gains from residential property and 20 per cent on gains from other chargeable assets.

For basic rate taxpayers (20 per cent), if your taxable gain plus your total taxable income fall within the basic income tax band of £12,571 to £50,270, the CGT rate is 18 per cent on residential property and 10 per cent on other gains.

If the amount is higher, the CGT rate is 28 per cent on residential property and 20 per cent on other gains.

The Government has more information on CGT rates here.

Rogers explains how to carry forward capital losses to offset them against capital gains here.



And she looks at which types of personal possessions, referred to in this context as ‘chattels’, are liable for CGT and which are exempt here.

What do buy-to-let landlords need to know about CGT?

When you come to sell your buy-to-let property, there will be capital gains tax to pay on any profit.

It applies to any property which is not your main home – your Principal Private Residence – including private second homes as well.

CGT is levied at the rates explained above, but as gains are added to income to deliver a total amount this means that in practice most landlords making decent profits should pay the 28 per cent rate.

There are two reliefs you can get on your CGT bill, but they are both less generous than they once were.

First, there is a capital gains tax regime specifically for ‘accidental’ landlords, who once lived in a property before going on to let it out.

If a landlord rents out a property that was once their main home, capital gains tax only applies on the amount the home went up in value while they weren’t living there.

Previously landlords could also add an extra 18 months onto the amount of time they lived at the property – this is known as the ‘final period exemption’.

But as of this tax year that has now been reduced to nine months.

As an example of how this works, under the old rules a landlord who has owned their property for 10 years and lived in it for two would only be taxed on six-and-a-half years of capital gains – the 10 year period minus the two years of residency and the added 18 months’ relief.

But now they’ll be taxed on seven years and three months of capital gains – the 10 years, minus the two years residency plus the reduced nine months’ relief.

Another key CGT allowance to be aware of is ‘lettings relief’, which has also been rolled back this year.

Previously, when a landlord sold their former home after renting it out, up to £40,000 of their gain can be exempted from capital gains tax.

Couples could benefit from an exemption of up to £80,000.

Under the new rules however only landlords who live in the property with their tenants now qualify for this benefit. 

Meanwhile, you can reduce your CGT bill by deducting some of the expenses associated with buying and managing a property.

You can offset costs such as the stamp duty paid when you purchased the property as well as solicitors’ fees, estate agent’s fees to market the property, and surveyors’ fees if a survey was carried out when you purchased the property.

You may also be able to offset losses on other property against your capital gains tax bill.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk