We want to transfer a buy-to-let property to our children by trust deed in stages, to complete the transfer in about ten years or longer, to save capital gains tax (CGT). I am 74 and my wife is 68. The property is valued at £1 million. There is no mortgage. It is held in our joint names. Will HMRC consider it as one transfer? What are the pros and cons of doing this?
Arthur Weller replies:
If you look at HMRC’s Capital Gains manual, you can see that HMRC calls this ‘fragmentation’ and does not like it. Furthermore, the disadvantages of doing so are: (a) as time goes on, it is likely that the value of the property will increase, and so the potential capital gain will also increase; and (b) in order to avoid the seven-year inheritance tax rule, it is necessary that you and your wife live seven years after the date of the gift, but this becomes harder if the gifts are spread over a number of years.