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Principal Private Residence (PPR) Relief: Deciphering the Tax Code

By admin
14 May 2024
Manage Tax Risk

Homeowners looking to navigate the complexities of Capital Gains Tax, understanding Principal Private Residence Relief (PPR )is critical. At its core, PPR relief applies when a dwelling house, at any point during the ownership period, has served as the taxpayer’s only or main residence. Certain periods of absence are considered deemed periods of occupation, periods of employment abroad, and up to four years of working away from home in the UK, or periods of up to three years for any reason. These periods can apply cumulatively, provided that the taxpayer eventually returns to the property.  The final nine months of ownership are always deemed occupation without the need to return to the property following a period of absence.

To calculate the chargeable gain on the disposal of the property, subtract the PPR relief from the gain. We determine this deduction by multiplying the gain by a fraction that reflects the duration of the property’s use as the primary residence during the ownership period.

PPR Equation

Considering the latest spring budget, significant changes are on the horizon for CGT rates on residential property disposals. From April 6, 2024, the CGT rate for gains on disposals of residential properties will decrease from 28% to 24% for individuals, trustees, and personal representatives falling within the higher rate band. For gains within an individual’s basic rate band, the CGT rate will remain at 18%. Notably, Principal Private Residence Relief (PPR) will continue to be available for the disposal of an individual’s only or main residence, offering a vital safeguard in the ever-evolving landscape of property taxation.

Recent controversies have highlighted a key aspect of tax law: married couples who own multiple properties must designate one as their main residence to qualify for PPR relief. It could be considered “tax evasion” to fail to make this designation and then realize a gain upon disposal.

However, the situation becomes more complicated when considering legally married couples who live separately and maintain their own residences, as seen in cases involving public figures like Angela Rayner. In these instances, individuals may be unaware of their legal obligations, leading to accusations of deliberately seeking to avoid tax. The scrutiny surrounding tax affairs underscores the importance of transparency and accountability. Yet, beyond these high-profile cases, there exists a broader narrative of societal evolution and its impact on tax legislation.

Since its inception in 1962, the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) system has operated on the assumption that married couples typically reside together, managing a household jointly. Yet, societal norms have shifted, leading to more couples living apart due to various reasons, challenging traditional tax laws.

The evolving definition of a married couple for tax purposes introduces complexity, particularly concerning Principal Private Residence Relief (PPR). Questions arise about eligibility when spouses live apart while remaining legally married. There are several reasons why spouses might opt for separate living arrangements while maintaining their marital status:

  • Career obligations: One spouse may need to relocate for work or pursue career opportunities in a different location, while the other spouse chooses to remain in their current setting due to their own professional or familial commitments.
  • Marital challenges: Couples may decide to live separately temporarily to address marital issues or conflicts. This separation can offer an opportunity for introspection, counselling, or therapy to resolve problems without immediately resorting to divorce.
  • Health considerations: If one spouse requires specialised medical care or treatment only available in a specific area, they may choose to live apart while still upholding their marriage.
  • Financial factors: Physical separation while remaining legally married can sometimes yield financial advantages, such as retaining access to a spouse’s health insurance or retirement benefits.
  • Religious or cultural beliefs: Certain religions or cultures discourage divorce, prompting couples to opt for legal separation as a means of respecting their beliefs while living apart.
  • Children: Couples with children may opt for separate living arrangements to accommodate their children’s education and the career demands of the primary earner.

If the couple resides in both properties and only one is eligible for PRR relief, they may encounter complexities when selling one in the future. This scenario could result in a chargeable Capital Gains Tax for one of the properties if both are jointly owned by the couple.

PPR Conclusion

As societal norms evolve, tax laws may need to adapt to ensure fairness and clarity, maintaining the integrity of the tax system. Critics argue that current legislation may not adequately address the complexities of modern relationships. Comprehensive reform and increased awareness initiatives are necessary due to the intricate tax system and individuals’ potential unawareness of their tax obligations. We urge taxpayers to stay informed and seek professional advice in navigating these complexities.

If you have any questions regarding PPR relief and how it can aid your CGT payment then please speak to a member of the team here

Read the govenements guidelines on tax on selling a home here

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