If you own a business as a sole trader or in partnership, a Capital Gain will arise if your business is transferred into a company structure. The gain will be assessed by reference to the market value of the business assets, including goodwill, at the date of transfer. This could give rise to a chargeable gain based broadly on the difference between the market value of the assets and their original cost.
In most cases, the incorporation of the business will be completed so that incorporation relief can be claimed. The claim for incorporation relief should defer any tax until you sell your shares in the business.
In order to qualify for incorporation relief, all your business assets other than cash must be transferred as a going concern, wholly or partly in exchange for shares in the new company.
It is important to note that where the necessary conditions are met, incorporation relief is given automatically and there is no need to make a claim. The relief works by reducing the base cost of the new assets by a proportion of the gain arising from the disposal of the old assets.
Although the relief is automatic, it is possible to make an election in writing for incorporation relief not to apply. An election must be made before the second anniversary of 31 January next, following the tax year in which the transfer took place e.g. an election in respect of a transfer made in the current 2019-20 tax year must be made by 31 January 2023. The election deadline is reduced by one year if the shares are disposed of in the year following that in which the business was incorporated.
Incorporation Relief is just one possible strategy that can be used to minimise tax liabilities if you incorporate your business. However, there are other planning options. If you are considering incorporation, be sure to take professional advice. We can help.