A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, especially in tax. Clients may think they know the law as they have read something on the internet, but the circumstances of a transaction need to fit precisely within the parameters of the relief, or tax will be payable.
Mr and Mrs Day sold a plot of land for £200,000, and reinvested the proceeds in a cottage which they planned to let out as holiday accommodation. Mr Day did not take professional advice, but instead did some online research, which he didn’t print off or bookmark, so he couldn’t refer back to it.
From his research, Day believed that CGT rollover relief would be due, as he was selling a business asset (land he farmed) and buying another business asset (FHL property). In fact business asset rollover relief (TCGA 1992, s 152) was not available to Mr Day as the cottage was subsequently let on 6-month tenancies and not as short term furnished holiday accommodation, so it didn’t qualify as a business asset.
Mrs Day was the joint owner of the land, but she didn’t farm the land, as the farming business was carried on by Mr Day alone as a sole-trader. Thus, for Mrs Day, neither the asset disposed of (farm land), nor the asset acquired (the cottage), qualified as business assets.
Having reached their erroneous conclusions about CGT rollover relief, the couple thought that no tax would be payable on the sale of the land, so they didn’t report the transaction on their tax returns. HMRC investigated and raised assessments for the CGT due, plus penalties for careless errors on the tax returns, and interest due on late paid tax.
Amazingly, HMRC accepted Mr Day’s claim for entrepreneurs’ relief on his share of the gain, which cut his CGT liability by half. Unfortunately, Mrs Day was not eligible to claim entrepreneurs’ relief as she was not farming the land.