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Instead of land banking developers have, in the most recent past, preferred to take out options on land for development in the future without locking up large amounts of capital. These options are being taken up in increasing numbers as planning is granted in support of the need for new homes and taking advantage of current market conditions. This in turn is generating considerable sums to farmers who have these development options who now wish to reinvest in more land whilst taking advantage of current Capital Gains Tax Rollover reliefs.
Under current fiscal rules, Capital Gains Tax relief is offered where the gain from the sale of a business asset is rolled over into the purchase of other business assets. Technically this a deferred tax relief that would have to be paid when those assets are sold again and are not reinvested in a business, but the effect now is that the Rollover relief can save a considerable amount of tax on the gain made. This gives significant additional purchasing power to those in this fortunate position and may become even more expedient should changes being mooted to Capital Gains Tax rates bring them in line with Income Tax rates.
The problem is that there is very little land to buy at present and if this money is not reinvested a large chunk will be lost to the industry or to the Inland Revenue. Those fortunate to be in this position would much rather pay more for land now than lose it in tax, creating a huge opportunity for sellers retiring or coming out of farming to get a premium for their properties.
Others creating competition for farmers in the farmland space are those non-farmers seeking shelter from Inheritance Tax (IHT) by utilising Agricultural Property Relief (APR), but this too is set to change. Successive governments have pledged to look at this relief because it is felt that it is not being used for the purpose it was originally intended (to allow the next generation of farmers to take on the farm without the burden of having to raise cash to pay a tax the business could seldom afford) as is being used all too often as a tax avoidance measure for non-farmers. The impact of this change could well dissuade non-farmers from entering the market in such numbers – good news for farmers perhaps – but without competition from this sector, prices will be likely to fall.
Despite these influences and uncertainty in UK agriculture brought about by leaving the European Union, demand continues to outstrip the supply of farms and land so now really is a good time to consider selling.
GSC Grays has a dedicated farm agency team able to advise on all aspects of the marketing and sale of farms and land. With the support of their farm business advisers, specialist valuers, and a reputation for working closely with agricultural lenders, accountants and solicitors has helped deliver the best outcomes for clients, even if that turns out to be a different outcome from the one first anticipated.