24th November 2014
Where a let property is held by one spouse, a transfer into joint ownership can help save income tax on the rental income where one spouse pays tax at a lower marginal rate. Holding property in joint names may also mitigate the capital gains tax (CGT) charge on a future sale of the property.
In England and Wales property can be held as:
If the owners are married or are in a civil partnership, they are deemed for tax purposes to hold the property in equal shares, i.e. 50:50. Where a property is held in unequal shares, in order to benefit from being assessed to tax in accordance with the actual beneficial ownership, a valid election (on a Form 17) needs to be filed with HM Revenue & Customs.
If a property is held as joint tenants, it is quite simple to sever the joint tenancy and switch to tenants in common. There could however be a Stamp Duty Land Tax charge where the property concerned is mortgaged.
A ‘gift’ of an interest in a property between spouses or civil partners who are living together is treated as a ‘no gain no loss’ disposal for CGT purposes. The donee is effectively treated as acquiring the interest in the property at the donor’s base cost.
The transfer between spouses/civil partners is also exempt from inheritance tax, unless one spouse is non-UK domiciled.