Clients are always looking for new ways to make money and recently we have had a couple of clients ask how CFD’s and Spread Betting are treated for Tax Purposes.
The general rule is that its considered to be gambling unless the badges of trade are present.
BIM22016 – Meaning of trade: exceptions and alternatives: betting and gambling – what is a bet?
The first, and obvious, question is simply what is a bet? A definition of a bet or ‘wager’ was given by Hawkins J in Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company  2QB484 and has been followed in later cases:
‘It is not easy to define with precision what amounts to a wagering contract, nor the narrow line of demarcation which separates a wagering from an ordinary contract; but, according to my view, a wagering contract is one by which two persons, professing to hold opposite views touching the issue of a future uncertain event, mutually agree that, dependent on the determination of that event, one shall win from the other, and that other shall pay or hand over to him, a sum of money or other stake; neither of the contracting parties having any other interest in that contract than the sum or stake he will so win or lose, there being no other real consideration for the making of such contract by either of the parties. It is essential to a wagering contract that each party may under it either win or lose, whether he will win or lose being dependent on the issue of the event, and, therefore, remaining uncertain until that issue is known.’
BIM56900 – Financial traders – instruments and shares: contracts for differences and spread betting
Contracts for differences (CFDs) are defined in CFM50380, and this definition includes financial spread bets. CFDs fall within the definition of derivative contracts for Corporation Tax purposes, so for companies the derivative contracts regime applies in most cases.
Individuals and others not within the charge to Corporation Tax
For individuals and others not within the charge to Corporation Tax the position is different. In such cases you will need to examine the contract to see if it is a gambling or wagering one. There is guidance on this at BIM22016. The profits or losses from gambling or wagering contracts are outside the scope of Income Tax (see BIM22015). However, this will not apply if the spread bet is used for a commercial purpose such as a hedge where the guidance at BIM56880 should be followed.