Entrepreneurs' Relief: some relief, but a sting in the tail

12 March 2020

Entrepreneurs' Relief was widely expected to be abolished or curtailed in this year's Budget given that the Conservative Party manifesto stated that it would "review and reform" the relief. 

The closed-door review concluded with the Chancellor shrinking the relief. The lifetime limit on gains eligible for Entrepreneurs’ Relief was reduced from £10m to £1m for qualifying disposals made on or after 11 March 2020.

Given the commentary surrounding Entrepreneurs' Relief ahead of the Budget (touted as the UK's worst tax relief), reducing the lifetime limit to £1m, back to the amount when the relief was originally introduced in 2008, was the best that could be hoped for.

The sting in the tail is that the reduction in relief takes place with immediate effect (leaving no time for planning...) and that the rules contain two provisions to counter forestalling arrangements. Where unconditional contracts were exchanged before 11 March but not completed until after that date, the date of disposal will be deemed to be the date assets are transferred (so the £1m lifetime limit will take effect). And, for share-for-share exchanges taking place in the 2019-20 tax year but before 11 March 2020, where an election is made Entrepreneurs' Relief will be calculated by reference to the new lifetime limit.

Mr Sunak reduced the amount of capital gains tax relief that entrepreneurs can claim during their lifetime from £10m to £1m as he said that the rate had previously benefited only a small number of wealthy individuals.