With property prices expected to fall during 2023, parents may be thinking about getting their children onto the property ladder. However, although help with a deposit does not raise that many tax issues, joint ownership can have expensive tax consequences.

Nearly half of first-time property buyers aged under 35 have received help from the bank of mum and dad. However the following implications should be considered alongside generous intentions.

Help with a deposit

  • Outright gift: This will be treated as a gift for inheritance tax (IHT) purposes. There is no immediate tax cost, but it could mean more IHT is payable if the parent subsequently dies within seven years.
  • Loan: An interest-free loan arrangement avoids any IHT implications, but it could impact on mortgage affordability calculations.

Stamp duty

Joint ownership is likely to mean upfront stamp duty consequences.

  • In England and Northern Ireland, first-time buyers can benefit from a nil-rate threshold of £425,000, saving a potential £8,750 compared to a normal purchaser. However, with joint ownership, all purchasers need to be first-time buyers to qualify for relief; parents are unlikely to qualify.
  • There is a similar, although much lower, relief for Scottish first-time buyers.
  • Furthermore, the inclusion of parents will probably mean that the stamp duty surcharge on second homes is payable. For property in England and Northern Ireland, this is 3%, with higher surcharges for Scottish and Welsh property.

The surcharge can mean an extra cost of £9,480 for a property purchase in England at the latest published average price (October 2022) of £316,000.

Capital gains tax (CGT)

CGT exemption on property disposal only applies if a property has been the seller’s main residence, and this again is unlikely to be the case for a joint owning parent. The tax charge will probably be mainly, or wholly, at 28%. The future reduction of the CGT annual exemption to just £3,000 will not help.

A useful guide on helping a child buy their first home can be found here.