Jane Shaw, private wealth lawyer and director in the dispute resolution team at law firm, Pannone Corporate, commented:
“Despite a flurry of activity from individuals and business owners in anticipation of changes to CGT and IHT, the Chancellor has unsurprisingly delayed making any big decisions at this point, given that the economy is still in a fragile state. This has provided people with another window of opportunity to prepare and plan forany changes, such as the alignment of CGT and income tax rates, as well as changes to IHT and the introduction of a gift tax for all lifetime gifts over a low threshold.
“While the proposed tax reforms have been kicked into the long grass once again, it’s only a matter of time before CGT and IHT receive the kind of tax treatment that’s been on the cards for the last couple of years, with reports by the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) and the Wealth Commission amongst others, demonstrating that a move is highly likely. In the last few weeks, an increasing number of people have been setting up Trusts in order to trigger a gain in advance of any CGT rise, or at least putting themselves in a position to pay it should they need to. This trend will undoubtedly continue in anticipation of future changes.
“It’s essential for people to take stock and get their affairs in order if they believe any changes to CGT and IHT are likely to affect them, particularly for those business owners where a third-party sale is on the horizon.
“Despite a recent rush of activity, it’s important to note that individuals and business owners can trigger a gain at any point, by transferring a property or shares to a Trust of which they are the Trustee and the main beneficiary. Where there is a proposed gift – for example, the individual is happy to give the property away – it’s also possible to dispose of that asset to a Trust that they are not a beneficiary of and, as such, ‘holdover’ or defer the CGT charge.”