HL Deb 07 March 1973 vol 339 cc1141-3

2.40 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the limits of delay which may

Following is the information referred to:

be expected in settling the capital gains tax which accrues on the disposal of landed property.


My Lords, I believe it would be misleading to quote any average time to settle cases. The time taken to determine the capital gains tax chargeable on the disposal of landed property will depend on a number of factors some of which are outside the control of the Inland Revenue. Naturally, it is in the interests of all concerned that these matters should be settled as expeditiously as possible, and if my noble friend has a particular case in mind and will give me details, I shall be happy to arrange for it to be looked into.


My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. Would he not agree that in many cases this delay extends to years rather than months, and that it bears very heavily upon people who on a falling stock market have to sell securities to meet this charge when it is eventually determined?


My Lords, I would agree that sometimes, for a number of factors which I could go into, but only at some length, there may be a period of years involved. I should think this is probably an advantage both to the Inland Revenue and to the person concerned. Nevertheless, I would repeat that generally I think it is in the interests of both sides that, whenever possible, these matters should be settled as quickly as possible.


My Lords, are the Government aware that it bears much harder on the would-be buyer if the capital gain is in land rather than in Stock Exchange securities, where it is very easy for a person to make an approximate estimate of his ultimate liability, whereas in land it is extremely difficult? Therefore, it is most important that the valuation of the land should be speeded up.


My Lords, I would not dissent from that proposition; but in fact one of the reasons which causes delay concerns the safeguards to those involved, and these safeguards can work very much to their advantage, and not necessarily to the advantage of the Inland Revenue.


My Lords, would the noble Earl tell me whether one has to pay capital gains tax if one is selling one's house simply for the purpose of buying another? If so, is that not a little unfair?


My Lords, I think that is a completely different question. I should be very glad to try to answer it if the noble Lord would put down a Question.