Cryptoassets for individuals – taxes that apply

In most cases, individuals hold cryptoassets (such as Bitcoin) as a personal investment, usually for capital appreciation in its value or to make purchases. They will be liable to pay Capital Gains Tax when they dispose of their cryptoassets.

This includes: 

  • selling tokens
  • exchanging tokens for a different type of cryptoasset
  • using tokens to pay for goods or services
  • giving away tokens to another person (unless it is a gift to your spouse or civil partner)

If the taxpayer’s activity is trading, then Income Tax will take priority over CGT and will apply to profits (or losses).

Individuals will be liable to pay Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions on cryptoassets which they receive from:

  • their employer as a form of non-cash payment
  • mining, transaction confirmation or airdrops

There may also be cases where an individual is running a business which is carrying on a financial trade in cryptoassets and will therefore have taxable trading profits.

Tax-free capital gains

As with Income Tax personal allowances, taxpayers have an annual exempt amount for Capital Gains Tax (CGT) which is forfeited if not used. The annual exemption for individuals in 2021-22 is £12,300.

Whilst most taxpayers are aware of their annual tax-free allowance and the exemption for the qualifying sale of the family home there are other items that are exempt from CGT.

These include:

  • your car
  • personal possessions worth up to £6,000 each, such as jewellery, paintings or antiques
  • stocks and shares you hold in tax-free investment savings accounts, such as ISAs and PEPs
  • UK Government or 'gilt-edged' securities, for example, National Savings Certificates, Premium Bonds and loan stock issued by the Treasury
  • betting, lottery or pools winnings
  • personal injury compensation
  • foreign currency you bought for your own or your family's personal use outside the UK

A husband and wife each have a separate exemption. This also applies to civil partners who are treated in the same way as married couples for CGT purposes. Married couples and civil partners should ensure that assets sold at a gain are either jointly owned or that each partner utilises their annual exempt amount wherever possible. Any unused part of the annual exempt amount cannot be carried forward and is forfeited if unused in the current tax year.

Incorporation relief

When a taxpayer owns a business as a sole trader or in partnership, a capital gain will be deemed to arise if the business is converted into a company by reference to the market value of the business assets including goodwill. This could give rise to a chargeable gain based broadly on the difference between the market value of the assets and their original cost.

However, in most cases the incorporation of the business will be completed in such a way so as to satisfy the conditions necessary to secure incorporation relief. One such condition is that the entire business with the whole of its assets (or the whole of its assets other than cash) must be transferred as a going concern wholly or partly in exchange for shares in the new company.

It is important to note that where the necessary conditions are met, incorporation relief is given automatically and there is no need to make a claim. The relief works by reducing the base cost of the new assets by a proportion of the gain arising from the disposal of the old assets.

Although the relief is automatic it is possible to make an election in writing for incorporation relief not to apply. An election must be made before the second anniversary of 31 January next following the tax year in which the transfer took place e.g., an election in respect of a transfer made in the 2020-21 tax year must be made by 31 January 2024. The election deadline is reduced by one year if the shares are disposed of in the year following that in which the business was incorporated.

Disposing of garden or grounds

In general, there is no Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on a property which has been used as a main family residence. This relief from CGT is commonly known as private residence relief.

However, there are some grey areas which might result in CGT being due on the sale of a private residence. One of these areas to consider is when disposing of garden or grounds belonging to the property.

The entitlement to private residence relief is usually only available if the garden or grounds, including the site of the house, is no greater than 5,000 square metres (a little over an acre). Larger gardens and grounds may qualify but only if they are appropriate to the size and character of the property and are required for the reasonable enjoyment of it.

Taxpayers are still entitled to relief if they dispose of land that they occupy as their garden or grounds, up to the permitted area, at the time of disposal. The garden or grounds includes the buildings standing on that land. HMRC’s guidance is clear that a building that is not part of a dwelling house can still qualify for relief if it’s within the permitted area of garden or grounds.

No relief is allowed for land let or used for a business or for land that has been fenced or divided off from your garden for development.

Capital Gains Tax exemptions

As with Income Tax personal allowances, taxpayers have an annual exempt amount for Capital Gains Tax (CGT) which is forfeited if not used. The annual exemption for individuals in 2020-21 is £12,300. A husband and wife each have a separate exemption. This also applies to civil partners who are treated in the same way as married couples for CGT purposes.

Married couples and civil partners should ensure that assets sold at a gain are either jointly owned or that each partner utilises their annual exempt amount wherever possible. Any unused part of the annual exempt amount cannot be carried forward and is forfeited if unused in the current tax year.

CGT is usually charged at a simple flat rate of 20%. If you only pay basic rate tax and make a small capital gain, the gain may be subject to a reduced rate of CGT of 10%. Once the total of taxable income and gains exceed the higher rate threshold, the excess will be subject to 20% CGT. A higher rate of CGT (8% supplement) applies to gains on the disposal of chargeable residential property.

If you have sold or are planning to sell any assets in the current tax year, 2020-21, it is important to ensure that you take full advantage of the annual CGT exemption and arrange your affairs to ensure the optimum CGT position. For example, capital losses are deducted from gains before net gains are calculated. Crystallising a loss that will waste the annual exemption should therefore be avoided.

Tax when you sell shares

Capital Gains Tax (CGT) is normally charged at a simple flat rate of 20% when you sell shares unless they are in a CGT free wrapper such as an ISA or pension. 

If you only pay basic rate tax and make a small capital gain you may only be subject to a reduced rate of 10%. Once the total of your taxable income and gains exceeds the higher rate threshold, the excess will be subject to 20% CGT. There is also an annual CGT exemption. This means that in the current tax year you can make £12,300 of gains before paying any CGT. The allowance applies to each member of a married couple or civil partnership. 

The usual due date for paying CGT you owe to HMRC on the sale of shares is the 31 January following the end of the tax year in which a capital gain was made. This means that CGT for any gains crystalised before 6 April 2021 will be due for payment on or before 31 January 2021. However, if you waited until the start of the next tax year you would have until 31 January 2022 to pay any CGT due. For example, you could benefit from this extra year to pay CGT due by waiting to crystallise a gain from the 5 April 2021 (2020-21 tax year) until the 6 April 2022 (2021-22 tax year).  

The normal way to report a gain on the sale of shares is to complete the relevant sections of your Self-Assessment tax return. When calculating your gain, you can deduct certain costs of buying or selling shares such as stockbrokers’ fees or Stamp Duty Reserve Tax.

Basics of CGT Rollover Relief

Business Asset Rollover Relief is a valuable relief that allows you to defer payment of CGT on gains made when you sell or dispose of certain assets and use all or part of the proceeds to buy new assets. The relief means that the tax on the gain of the old asset is postponed. The amount of the gain is effectively rolled over into the cost of the new asset and any CGT liability is deferred until the new asset is sold. 

Where only part of the proceeds from the sale of the old asset is used to buy a new asset a partial rollover claim can be made. It is also possible to claim for provisional rollover relief where you expect to buy new assets but haven’t done so yet. Interestingly, rollover relief can also be claimed if you use the proceeds from the sale of the old asset to improve assets you already own. The total amount of rollover relief is dependent on the total amount reinvested to purchase new assets.

HMRC’s internal manual lists the following key conditions for the relief:

  1. The old assets are within one of the classes listed in CG60280 and have been used solely for the purposes of the trade throughout the period of ownership, and
  2. the whole of the consideration obtained for the disposal is applied in acquiring new assets within one of the classes listed in CG60280 which are, on the acquisition taken into use wholly for the purposes of the trade.

There are also other qualifying conditions to be met to ensure entitlement to any relief. For example, you should purchase the new assets within 3 years of selling or disposing of the old ones (or up to one year before). Under certain circumstances, HMRC has the discretion to extend these time limits. In addition, both the old and new assets must be used by your business and the business must be trading when you sell the old assets and buy the new ones. You must claim relief within 4 years of the end of the tax year when you bought the new asset (or sold the old one, if that happened after).

What is Tangible Moveable Property?

A chattel is a legal term that defines an article which is a tangible moveable property. A tangible object is one that you can touch. The asset has to be a physical asset such as household furniture, paintings, antiques, items of crockery and china, plate and silverware, motor cars, lorries, motorcycles and items of plant and machinery not permanently fixed to a building.

There is no specific meaning for the term 'moveable' in the relevant legislation. However, HMRC’s guidance states that the definition is simply based on whether the asset can be moved easily and without damaging its surroundings. Small items of plant or other easily moved items will satisfy the test.

A charge to Capital Gains Tax usually arises after an asset is sold. However, there are special rules concerning the sale of chattels. That is because chattels with a predictable useful life of 50 years or less are normally exempt from Capital Gains Tax.

Do you owe CGT on the sale of a residential property?

HMRC has issued a press release to remind taxpayers that have sold a residential property, which was not their main home, during the 2019-20 tax year that the payment date for any Capital Gains Tax (CGT) owed is 31 January 2021.

Due to the impact of Coronavirus, there are options available to defer payments due on 31 January 2021 and pay by instalments over 12 months. This includes a self-serve Time to Pay facility online for debts up to £30,000 or by arrangement with HMRC. Interest will be applied to any outstanding balance from 1 February 2021.

The payment of CGT only applies to the sale of any residential property that does not qualify for Private Residence Relief (PRR). The PRR relief applies to a qualifying residential properly used wholly as a main family residence.

CGT is normally due on property sales such as:

  • a property that you have not used as your main home;
  • a holiday home;
  • a property which you let out for people to live in;
  • a property that you’ve inherited and have not used as your main home.

The CGT reporting and payment date for UK residents that sell a residential property changed from 6 April 2020. This change means that any CGT due on the sale of a residential property now needs to be reported and a payment on account of any CGT due made within 30 days of the completion of the transaction.

Business Asset Disposal Relief

Business Asset Disposal Relief used to be known as Entrepreneurs’ Relief before 6 April 2020. The relief was renamed in Finance Act 2020. The name change does not affect the operation of the relief.

Business Asset Disposal Relief applies to the sale of a business, shares in a trading company or an individual’s interest in a trading partnership. Where this relief is available CGT of 10% is payable in place of the standard rate. There are a number of qualifying conditions that must be met in order to qualify for the relief.

When the relief was first introduced there was a lifetime limit of £1 million for gains. This was increased to £2 million from 6 April 2010, to £5 million from 23 June 2010 and to £10 million from 6 April 2011. The limit was reduced to £1 million on 11 March 2020.

The £1m lifetime limit means that individuals can qualify for the relief more than once subject to an overriding total limit of £1m of qualifying capital gains. The changes to the lifetime limit are not retrospective.

To qualify for relief, you should be either an officer or employee of the company and own at least 5% of the company and have at least 5% of the voting rights. There are also other qualifying conditions that must be met in order to qualify for the relief. The minimum period during which certain conditions must be met in order to qualify for Business Asset Disposal Relief increased from one to two years from 6 April 2019.