Married couples looking to save tax should consider passing non-business assets between them before April 6, tax experts at Horwath Clark Whitehill's Midlands office are recommending.
Tax director Paul Edwards said: "Most of the fuss over the radical capital gains tax changes that come into effect then has been about so-called 'business assets', with the CGT rate increasing from 10 to 18 per cent."
He said that Chancellor Alistair Darling had relented to some extent with the "entrepreneurs' relief" that will continue to give a 10 per cent rate for the sale of 'small' businesses.
But what about 'non-business assets'? Such as a second home.
"Currently CGT rates for NBAs vary between 24 per cent and 40 per cent depending on the length of period of ownership," noted Mr Edwards.
"On the face of it, a reduction in the rate of CGT to 18 per cent seems very good news, but that's not necessarily so because indexation allowance is not given after April 5. This means that for NBAs acquired before 1998 the CGT liability can be higher despite the new lower rate of tax," he said.
But, married couples can preserve the indexation allowance if they make a gift of the asset between themselves before April 6. "There is no tax to pay when the gift is made, not even Stamp Duty Land Tax," he said.
He cited an example of a second home that was purchased in 1975 for £60,000 and valued at £225,000 in March 1982.
Its value now might be £850,000 but if it was transferred from one spouse to the other before April and sold later in the year, the couple would make a CGT saving of more than £42,000.
He said: "The moral of the story is that the tax rate is only ever part of the calculation. The Government can raise tax by lowering the tax rate while increasing the amount that is chargeable."
But he cautioned that married couples should bear in mind one golden rule.
"Don't do anything just because it seems a good idea for tax reasons without prop-erly considering all of the implications. No one likes paying tax but it's better to pay tax when you sell something than when you have nothing left to sell."