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Jointly Held Property Tax Savings

Newsletter issue -September 2011.

With the threshold for 40% tax reducing every year (£35,000 after deducting allowances for 2011/12), it makes sense to review who pays the higher rates of tax within a family. Can some assets be transferred to the partner who pays a lower tax rate to reduce tax?

For example a let property could be transferred from one spouse into the joint ownership of the married couple or civil partners, or entirely into the other spouse's name. Joint ownership has advantages, as on the eventual sale of the property up to two annual exemptions (£10,600 each for 2011/12) may be available to reduce the chargeable gain. Transfers between husband and wife or civil partners who are living together do not create a capital gains tax charge at the time of the transfer.

Generally UK land can be held as joint tenants when the owners hold an equal undivided interest in the whole property, or as tenants-in-common where the individuals hold separate and identifiable shares, say 10% and 90% of the property (the legal terms may differ under Scottish law). However, where the owners are either married or in a civil partnership, the property will be treated for tax purposes as being held in equal shares (50:50), even if this is not the case. To be taxed on the actual interest each holds in the property the couple need to sign a declaration on Form 17 and submit it to HMRC.

Form 17 has recently been reissued. HMRC now require evidence of the actual beneficial interest held by each person in the property to be submitted with form 17. This evidence may be a copy of the property deeds, or the purchase or transfer document.