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TonyTax, Tax Consultant
Category: Tax
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Experience:  Inc Tax, CGT, Corp Tax, IHT, VAT.
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I moved abroad in 2000 to teach overseas and have lived in

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I moved abroad in 2000 to teach overseas and have lived in housing provided by my employer since then. I have let out my sole property in the UK since this date. I plan to move back to the UK and live again in the property (purchased in 1985 and lived in until 2000). Will I be liable to Capital Gains Tax when I sell the property?


You can claim main residence relief for the period that you lived in a property with it being your only or main residence. You will also be given exemption for a maximum of the last 18 months of ownership of the property when you are not living in it. In addition, as the property has been let, you will be entitled to a further deduction from any gain you make when you sell the property called letting relief which will be the lesser of:

1 £40,000,

2 the sum of the gain for the period that you lived in the property and the gain for a maximum of the last 18 months of ownership when you are not living in the property and

3 the gain for that part of any period the property was let which is not covered by that part of the last 18 months of ownership where relief has been claimed for that period.

If you are sent overseas by an employer, you can claim main residence relief for the time you spend working overseas even if the property is let (CG65050) so long as you return to live in it at some point before you sell it. It's always been my understanding that you cannot claim this relief if you choose to move and work abroad of your own volition as opposed to being asked to work abroad by an existing employer. However, if you look at the legislation, Section 223 (3) (b) of TCGA 1992, it makes no distinction between somebody who chooses to find a job outside the UK and somebody who is sent abroad by an employer.

Nearly all the expert commentary ones reads on tax websites refers to "being sent abroad by your employer". Take a look at CG65030, CG65040, CG65046 and CG65065 and at HS283 for more information. The intention of the legislation can be taken into account in disputes even if it doesn't make something it intended to be part of the law clear and so I'd be inclined to contact HMRC through the number here and ask for their technical people for their view. I've never had cause to pin HMRC down on this but I will probably do so soon as the wording of the legislation does not help.

If you didn't qualify for main residence relief for the period you have spent abroad, you will instead get letting relief which can reduce the taxable gain by up to £40,000 per part owner.

If you sold the property by 5 April 2015 and before you returned to the UK, you will pay no UK CGT as you have been a long term non-UK resident. After 5 April 2015, gains made by non-UK residents from the disposal of UK residential property will be subject to UK CGT but only on the increase in value from 5 April 2015. In effect, the 5 April 2015 value will become the cost for CGT purposes. How main residence relief and letting relief accrued before 6 April 2015 will fit into the new rules remains to be seen.

I hope this helps but let me know if you have any further questions.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for this information, it is very useful. It looks like choosing to live and work abroad will not qualify for relief from CGT.

One further question. Is the gain in value of the property before 2010 (2000 -2010) charged at a flat rate of 18% and the gain from 2010 onwards at 18/28% (as applicable), or is the entire gain over 15 years charged at 18/28% (as applicable) for the tax year in which the sale is made eg 2015?

Thank you

If you do have to pay CGT, it will be charged at the rate or rates in force in the tax year you sell the property. The current rates are 18% and 28%. The amount of CGT you will pay at each rate will be dependent on the level of your income in the tax year you sell the property.
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