Entrepreneurs' Relief applies to the sale of a business, shares in a trading company or an individual’s interest in a trading partnership. Where Entrepreneurs' Relief is available CGT of 10% is payable rather than the normal main rate of 20%. This can significantly reduce the amount of CGT due.
When the relief was first introduced there was a lifetime limit of £1 million for gains. This was increased to £2 million from 6 April 2010, to £5 million from 23 June 2010 and to a generous £10 million from 6 April 2011.
The relief is available to individuals as well as to some trustees of settlements. To qualify, the individual should be either an officer or employee of the company, own at least 5% of the company and have at least 5% of the voting rights. There are also other qualifying conditions that must be met.
Entrepreneurs' Relief is not available to companies or personal representatives of deceased persons or in relation to a trust where the entire trust is a discretionary settlement. The limit applies to all qualifying gains, whatever the year in which they arose.
The lifetime limit means that individuals can qualify for the relief more than once, subject to the over-riding condition that 20% CGT will be charged once the total amount of qualifying capital gains exceed £10 million.
Entrepreneurs' Relief is an important and valuable tax relief for many business owners. There is also a sister relief called Investor’s Relief which has a separate £10 million lifetime cap. This is useful for investors who do not meet the officer or employee requirement for Entrepreneurs' Relief.
We would advise readers who are considering a significant business disposal to take professional advice before signing on the dotted line. Positive tax planning, especially in these circumstances, can only be achieved in advance. The timing and structure of deals can make all the difference to maximising post-tax sales gains.