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Capital Gains Tax & Wine

Under current UK taxation rules NO TAXES are paid on gains as long as you do not trade wines on a regular basis.

Table wines (fortified wine or port) are considered a wasting asset (life expectancy less than 50 years) and such is not charged to capital Gains Tax.  Wine is also considered a Chattel and as such is charged to Inheritance Tax accordingly.  There is no charge to Income Tax as wine is not an “income baring investment.”

The following information is taken from a bulletin issued by the Inland Revenue in August 1999 concerning the capital gains tax treatment on wines and spirits:

Where bottled wine purchased, each bottle is a chattel for capital Gains Tax purposes.  As gains on the disposal of chattels which are also wasting assets are generally exempt from Capital Gains Tax, section 45(1) taxation of chargeable gains act 1992 (TCGA) then the first question is whether bottled wine is a wasting asset or not.

For capital Gains Tax purposes a wasting asset is one whose predictable life, from the point of view of the person acquiring it does not exceed 50 years, section 44(1) TGGA.  Whilst this definition would clearly apply to cheap table wine which may turn to vinegar within a relatively short period, even in unopened bottles, our wines which are generally recognised to have a very long storage life.

Between these extremes, there are a number of fine wines which are quite drinkable after a substantial period, although of course the taste alters over that time.  With these the basic consideration in our view, is whether the wine has turned to vinegar or merely matured.  Of course in practice, most wine is drunk well below the age of 50 years and in that sense it is very difficult to consider the issue in isolation.  However, where the facts justify it, we would normally contend that wine is not a wasting asset if it appears to be fine wine which not unusually is kept (or some samples of which are kept) substantial periods sometimes well in excess of 50 years.

If particular wine is not a wasting asset, then any gain accruing on its disposal may nevertheless be exempt where the disposal of the proceeds for that single bottle do not exceed £6000, sections 262(1) TGGA.  Where, however, a number of bottles are sold to the same person in one or more transactions, then the question might arise as to the whether the bottles themselves constitute a set.  If they do , the £6000 limit would apply to the overall sales proceeds rather than the [price fetched for any individual bottle, Section 262(4) TGGA.  This is a question of fact that would depend on:

a)      Whether the bottles are similar and complementary' which would require the wine in them to have been produced from the same vineyard in the same vintage year, and

b)      Whether the bottles are greater worth when sold collectively than when sold individually

NOTe: profits are generally fee from capital gains tax(CGT) however, CGT may be payable under certain circumstances.  Therefore, confirmation from your accountant as to your individual position is advised.



At BWC Management & Consulting Partners we believe trading wine should be both enjoyable and profitable, but like any traded commodity there are risks and wine can go down in value as well as up.


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