The Government has released their response on the Consultative Document on implementing a capital gains tax charge on non residents, who were previously exempt from UK capital gains tax unless they were considered to be "temporarily non resident". As expected, the legislation will be introduced with effect from 6 April 2015 and non-residents will then potentially be subject to capital gains tax on the disposal of UK residential property.
Principal private residence (PPR) relief will continue to be available but some fundamental changes to this relief will be introduced in the legislation. Hitherto it was possible, if the taxpayer owned two properties, to elect to treat a particular property as the main residence but the Government is now proposing that it will only be possible make a PPR election if the property in question is situated in the same country where the taxpayer is tax resident. Alternatively, the election would be valid provided the taxpayer spent at least 90 nights in the property in the year in question. Any election will now be made at the time of the disposal.
There is some concern that, for expatriates working full time overseas, who typically let out their UK homes when on assignment, it will be difficult, or even impossible, to fulfil this 90 nights condition and we must await the actual legislation to see whether the former reliefs relating to periods worked full time overseas will continue to be available.
The rate of tax for individuals will be 18% or 28%, depending on the amount of the gain and the available basic rate tax band; the annual capital gains tax exemption, currently £11,000, will be available to non-residents.
The new capital gains tax charge will apply from 6 April 2015 so any gain accruing from this date will be caught under this new legislation but the taxpayer can choose whether to compute the gain by reference to the fair market value of the property at April 2015 (known as re-basing; this is likely to be the preferred option) or time apportion the gain over the period of ownership of the property.
There will be a deadline for reporting the disposal - a mere 30 days from completion of the transaction- which will apply to all taxpayers. However, those taxpayers who already file UK tax returns and have a current Self-Assessment account will be able to declare the gain on the tax return for the year in question and pay the capital gains tax by the normal due date of 31 January following the end of the year of assessment. Those taxpayers not in the Self Assessment system will be required to pay the tax at the time the gain is reported, ie. within the 30 day deadline. The Government has not yet outlined the methods for reporting or paying the tax so we must await the legislation in the Spring for clarification on these points.