I am going to sell my family home and move into a new home, but it's taking time to sell, and so I wanted to take my first home off the market for a while and move into the new one, then sell at a later date. I won’t rent out my former home, so will I avoid CGT?
Andrea, capital gains tax (CGT) is one of the most misunderstood concepts in property investing, but in reality it’s quite simple.
CGT is not about whether you rent out a property or not, and many assets attract CGT even though they don’t produce income for you. When it comes to CGT on your family home, it is all about which property you intend to claim as your principal place of residence (PPOR), and you can only claim one. Any other property you own, regardless of if it is rented out or not, will accrue CGT. The value that becomes the cost base upon which the gain is calculated will depend on a host of things, from when it was purchased through to when it ceased being your principal place of residence exemption.
You can move out of your PPOR for up to six years and still maintain an exemption on it, as long as you don’t have another property for which you claim that exemption. This allows home owners to be relocated for work, or move out and rent for a time, without CGT accruing. Remember that if you buy another property in that time, you must nominate one as your PPOR, and your intention for the nominated property is that it must be genuinely a home you have intention to reside in.
You are allowed a six-month overlap, however, so that you have time to move and set up a new principal place of residence. Be very careful on this one, though – if you go over the six months by even one day you may end up paying some CGT on the family home, calculated in most cases on the change in value form the day you moved out until the day it sells. This might be OK if the value has not increased since you moved out, but if there has been any type of value increase since you left it, you could be up for some tax.
Try not to be too alarmed – remember CGT is incurred on only half the gain (as long as it has been held as an asset over 12 months) and although it is tacked on to the top of your other income and calculated at your highest marginal rate of tax, this may be a fairly small amount after all.
Margaret Lomas is a best-selling author and writes and hosts the popular Property Success With Margaret Lomas and heads up the panel onYour Money, Your Call, both on Sky News. She is the founder of Destiny.