We all try to improve our properties, but are we doing it with a profit motive?
The purpose of private residence relief is to relieve gains arising on the disposal of an individual’s residence so that the whole of the disposal proceeds are available to be used to buy a new residence of a similar standard. It is not intended to relieve speculative gains or gains arising from development.
The exclusion of speculative or development gains is achieved by TCGA92/S224 (3). It is important to understand the scope and limitations of this subsection so that you can apply it in suitable cases.
The subsection applies
- where a dwelling house is acquired wholly or partly for the purpose of realising a gain from its disposal, or
- where there is subsequent expenditure on the dwelling house wholly or partly for the purpose of realising a gain from its disposal.
Where the first part of the subsection applies no relief is due on any gain accruing from the disposal of the dwelling house. Where the second part of the subsection applies no relief is due on any part of the gain attributable to the expenditure.
If you plan to develop your property prior to sale it could be worth transferring it to company before any work is carried out, this could help to ensure that any gain to the date of transfer will be exempt from tax.
There is a further potential risk that HMRC may view the property development as a trading activity.