This article is also relevant to couples who have entered into a civil partnership.
For the tax year 2018-19, taxpayers can make tax-free capital gains of up to £11,700.
This allowance is available on a per person basis and so married couples (and those in a civil partnership) have a combined CGT allowance of £23,400.
Consider married couple John and Joy. Joy wants to dispose of a block of shares before 6 April 2019, but this will create a taxable gain of £22,000. After her CGT allowance is deducted this will create a CGT bill of £2,060 – Joy is a higher rate taxpayer and so she would pay CGT at 20%.
John is retired and has relatively little income for 2018-19 and no capital gains. It is quite legitimate for Joy to gift 50% of her shares to John before they are sold – gifts between spouses and civil partners are free of CGT. Each party would then sell their half-shares and chargeable gains of £11,000 each would be covered by their £11,700 allowance. Hey presto, no CGT to pay.
John and Joy decide to use the tax saved to fund a well earned winter break abroad. Not a bad outcome and an entirely acceptable tax planning ploy.