Selling part of your garden for development could be a shrewd move
The demand for new homes in Sussex is greater than ever and many homeowners with large gardens might be tempted to sell part of their garden to a property developer or build a house themselves. But there will be tax considerations to keep in mind, says Jo White.
When you sell your only or main home any profit on the sale is generally exempt from Capital Gains Tax as a result of Principal Private Residence relief (PPR). Your ‘home’ includes your garden and grounds so long as the land is used and enjoyed as part of your main residence whilst you live there.
It is possible to claim PPR if you sell part of the property, for example some of your garden. The relief automatically applies to properties of up to 1.2 acres (0.5 hectares) in total. It is also possible to claim the relief if your plot is bigger than this as long as the extra space is required for the reasonable enjoyment of the house. However, if you have a larger plot, HMRC may argue the sale in part demonstrates that the land sold was not required for the reasonable enjoyment of the property and so seek to deny the relief.
To ensure any relief is available, the land should clearly be part of the gardens or grounds and used as such until the date of sale. In practice this means that it should not be separated or fenced off from the area you are going to keep. We would also recommend you keep evidence that the area being sold was used as an integral part of your garden – for example, taking photographs of the garden in use.
Obtaining planning permission to develop part of your garden will not automatically prevent PPR being available and this may make the land more valuable. But at the same time, please be aware that if you purchased the property with a view to realising a profit on the sale of some or all of it, PPR will not be available.
Likewise, if you decided to build the new house on your land and sell the completed property this could be viewed as a trading activity, meaning at least part of the profit realised is subject to Income Tax and not Capital Gains Tax. On a positive note, if you are able to claim PPR on a sale of part of your garden this could result in the gain realised being tax free.
Given the potential tax savings, if you are thinking of selling part of your garden we would recommend getting professional advice as early as possible to ensure any necessary tax planning steps can be taken. Get in touch with Jo White, Tax consultant at accountants and business advisers Kreston Reeves.
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