Houses and spouses: Capital Gains Tax relief

There seems to be something of a kerfuffle about tax payable (or not) by the Labour Party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner on the sale of a house.  Let’s see if we can cast some light, in the hope that it may help others in a similar situation.

It’s reported that in 2007 Ms Rayner bought a house in Stockport and made it her home.  In 2010 she married Mark, who (we are told) already owned his own home.  In 2015 Ms Rayner sold the Stockport property.  She has said (according to the BBC) that ‘she was not liable [to pay tax on the capital gain] because it was her home and the “only one” she owned’ and that her then husband “already owned his own home independently”.  Her political opponents question whether that’s correct.  So: who’s right?

Actually, it’s not possible to say on these facts alone.

Some measure of relief was certainly due, on the basis that the Stockport house was as a matter of fact Ms Rayner’s main residence from 2007 until 2010.  Thereafter, from 2010 until 2020 (when the marriage ended) Angela and Mark would have been treated for tax purposes as having only one main residence between them.  For as long as they each continued to own the home they brought to the marriage (so that as a couple they had two residences), they could have filed with HMRC an election (no, not that sort of election, Angela!) specifying which was to be treated as their main residence.  If no election was made, which was the main residence would be determined as a question of fact.

So, the fact that the property was the only one Ms Rayner owned would not of itself have afforded exemption. However, full exemption would be due if:

  • the couple had jointly elected that the Stockport property should be treated as their (joint) main residence; or
  • the Stockport property was as a matter of fact the main residence of the couple.

And, of course, if Mark sold his home at some time between 2010 and 2015 (or let it out) such that the Stockport home was for a period the couple’s only residence, full relief would have been due for that period.

For more information on UK property taxes and reliefs, please get in touch with your usual BKL contact or use our enquiry form.



Sam Inkersole

In 2022, Sam won the Taxation’s Rising Star award at the Taxation Awards in and was named in the Accountancy Age 35 Under 35.

Jon Wedge

While Jon’s client work focuses on the financial services sector, he also oversees the firm’s assurance service, as well as supporting the trainees following in his footsteps.


Elana joined us in 2017 as an ACA trainee, after graduating from Durham University where she had studied languages. She is now a manager in our assurance team.


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