Everyone has an annual exemption for Capital Gains Tax (CGT) of £12,000 for 2019/20. This is wasted if you don’t make Capital Gains in the tax year. You can’t carry forward any unused exemption to a different tax year or transfer the exemption to another person.
If you are planning to dispose of assets which will create Capital Gains, you can save tax if the disposals are spread over several tax years. This is easy to do if your assets can be split into separate chunks, like shares. Each sale can then be calculated to produce a gain of less than £12,000.
If the asset must be sold in one go, you could reinvest part or all of the gain in Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) shares, but you must be prepared to take a risk. This will defer the gain until the EIS shares are sold. You can sell sufficient EIS shares in later years, so the gain is covered by your annual exemptions.
When you give a valuable asset to a relative, the disposal is treated like an open market sale, and the deemed gain is taxable. However, gifts to your spouse or civil partner don’t create immediate taxable gains, as the recipient takes over the transferor’s CGT cost. You can use this transfer between spouses to share the ownership of a property, and hence the gain, and thus use two annual exemptions in one tax year.
Legal advice should always be taken when giving away land or buildings, or a share in such property. Stamp duty land tax (or similar taxes in Scotland or Wales) may be payable if the property is mortgaged.