Selling artworks after the Budget

Posted on 25 February 2021

There is recent speculation that the Chancellor may announce in the Budget on 3rd March an increase in capital gains tax (currently 20% for art), possibly even to be aligned with income tax rates (up to 45%). Any change could take immediate effect from Budget Day. If you own artworks that have grown in value which you are planning to sell in the short or medium term, any increase in CGT rates could adversely affect you.

There is a non-controversial planning technique allowing you to lock in the CGT current rate. It involves a disposal of your art to a family controlled vehicle, typically a trust. CGT will be payable on the inherent gain to date at the current rate, with the tax payable in January 2022. If a subsequent open market sale happens before January 2022 then there's no cash flow issue at all. Otherwise, if a sale does not happen by then, there's a need for you to fund the tax from other resources until the art is sold. Depending on whether funding the tax is feasible, this action would still generally be worthwhile if the Chancellor announces a big increase in CGT. However, if a future sale doesn't happen at all you will have triggered a tax charge unnecessarily.

It is only speculation that CGT rates will increase in the Budget but if this concerns you and you are interested in exploring options for locking in the current CGT rate then do let us know. Timing is tight as the planning has to be finished before the Budget so please get in touch.

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