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Transfer of property to son

Question I have a flat that I once lived in and rented out for years that I want to sell. My son is 16. Can I transfer the property into his name for him to sell when he is 18 and avoid capital gains tax if it is his sole property? Alternatively, could I leave the flat empty for six months after transferring my electoral details to this address to avoid capital gains tax? I live with a partner in a jointly-owned house, which perhaps I could put into his name only in order that the flat would qualify as my single residence and then sell it and then have the house put back in joint names?

Arthur Weller replies:
Since your son is a minor (under 18) he cannot legally own property in this country. But a minor can beneficially own property through a bare trust and it is the beneficial ownership that counts for tax purposes. If you transfer the beneficial ownership of the flat to your son, it will be treated for capital gains tax (CGT) purposes as though you sold it to him at its current market value, and so you will have to pay CGT accordingly. If you sell the flat now (or transfer it to your son) you will get principal private residence relief for the period that you actually lived in the flat, plus relief for the last 18 months of ownership, and you can claim a letting exemption for the 'middle' years that you rented out the flat.

Property Tax Insider This sample question and answer is taken from Property Tax Insider, a monthly UK tax saving magazine for landlords and property investors.

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