Thursday 11 October 2007

Is flat 18% capital gains tax (CGT) really so bad?

Gosh, everyone (e.g. Real Business, Supper Club, FSB, etc.) really is up in arms about Darling's new flat CGT tax. I thought we free-marketeers were supposed to like flat, low taxes? Isn't that what our next chancellor, George Osborne, keeps talking about?

Sure, if you sell your (long-established) business in May of next year, then 18% vs 10% looks tough. But if you buy some shares now, and make some money, and sell them in May of next year then 18% vs 40% looks good to me.

We do very well in this country when it comes to government-approved ways of avoiding capital taxes (EIS allows you to invest in an unlisted company and pay 0% CGT; EMI allows you to get share options in a company and pay 0% CGT; ISAs let you buy listed shares and, yes, pay 0% CGT; plus Child Trust Funds, etc. etc. Don't rock the boat, all this other stuff might fall off).

Politicians usually tinker around the edges of the tax system. You've got to hand it to Darling for being a bit ballsy - it is quite daring to just cancel, in one afternoon, a plank of the tax system that has been around for decades. Well done. I still might sign Duncan's petition though.


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