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Less Tax For Landlords – The Flawed Business Property Relief Claim

We are writing this article as a result of the extensive enquiries we have received from Landlords who engaged in planning offered by Less Tax for Landlords and the Bailey Group.

HMRC’s view (and that of every other tax expert) is that the planning does not work. HMRC’s views are set out in Spotlight 63. They can be seen here.

In this article, we will look at Business Relief, explaining what it is, when it applies, what LT4L and the Bailey Group have told their clients and why their view is incorrect.

What is Business Relief

Business Relief (formerly known as Business Property Relief) reduces the value of business property for inheritance tax. It is available on the transfers of business assets during lifetime or upon death. To qualify, the business asset must usually have been owned throughout the two years before death or transfer.

There is no Business Relief if the business or company is one of ‘wholly or mainly’ in dealing in securities, stocks or shares, land or buildings or in the making or holding of investments.

A business that only generates investment income will not attract BPR, so this excludes:

  • A residential or commercial property letting business.
  • A property dealing business.
  • A serviced office business.

This means relief is not available to landlords with rental property.

The legislation is contained in Section 105(3) and (4), IHTA 1984.

In deciding whether a business consisted “wholly or mainly” of one or more of these prohibited activities, the courts will look at the business in the round, taking into account all of its activities both at the date of the transfer and over a reasonable period of time before the transfer (which may be several years), to see if one or more prohibited activities predominate – see the case of  George v IRC [2003] EWCA Civ 1763. This means that the test will be applied to the specific facts in each case. Most of the case law considering the ‘wholly or mainly’ test has looked at whether a business is mainly involved in investment activity rather than trading or service provision. 

It therefore seems incontrovertible that BPR or Business Relief is NOT available to Landlords. It defies belief that Chris Bailey, LT4L and the Bailey Group told clients that Business (Property) Relief was available and that the deceased’s estate would not be met with a significant Inheritance Tax liability upon the death of the deceased.

The (Flawed) Basis of the Advice given to the participants in this planning

We must repeat that there is not one tax professional who agrees with the assertion of the availability of Business Relief.

The following is an example of a discussion between Chris Bailey and a tax professional who questioned this aspect of the planning.

Trusted Advisor: You indicated that by structuring the property business in the particular way that you do, you create a trade which would benefit from BR, giving IHT exemption after 2 years. Business relief is not available for businesses which wholly or mainly involve the making or holding of investments. HMRC considered the holding of rental properties an investment business, which I appreciate is a business and can qualify for s.162 TCGA, but regardless of whether it qualifies for incorporation relief is specifically excluded from Business Relief under s.105(3). As such, unless the business of the LLP relates more than 50% to something other than the holding and letting of residential property, then I don’t see how it can qualify for BR, particularly when 100% of the income, management time and expenditure relates to the letting of rental properties.

Chris Bailey: The LLP holds the equity and not the properties – so it cannot be classed as an investment. The owner of the properties will not qualify for BR on the properties, but on the equity.

Trusted Advisor: I don’t understand how holding equity in a property ‘cannot be classed as an investment’. The case of M ROSS v HMRC (2017) confirmed that the exploitation of land in return for rent is still an investment business (this was an FLH (Furnished Holiday Let) case so related to a business that tax law recognises as a trade) and denied business relief. What is the business doing which is not the exploitation of land which would elevate the activity beyond that of a furnished holiday let? Caselaw in recent decades has been very clear that a business must offer significantly more than just the exploitation of a proprietary interest – what additional services do you suggest are being provided by the business, which means it’s not an investment?

Chris Bailey: Once again, unfortunately, we have had clients die during the time that they have been clients and HMRC have accepted all of our Probate calculations based on the above. The cases range from small cases (about £1m assets) to larger cases in excess of £5m assets.

Elysium Law have been approached by clients who, having submitted the claim for Business Relief as advised by Chris Bailey et al via Accountancy and Legal Solutions UK ( which is now OCG Legal and part of the Less Tax for Landlords group of companies), have now received a review of the claim.

So, does it work? – No

Here is an extract from HMRCs letter to the client (redacted to protect any identity:

“The executors returned business assets valued at REDACTED on the IHT400 reporting the IHT Account for REDACTED’s estate. The IHT400 return shows that business property relief was claimed against the full value of these assets.

I am aware that Accountancy and Legal Solutions UK have provided advice to other taxpayers with similar investment businesses in respect of Business Property Relief claims and that those claims have been determined invalid (Our emphasis). Therefore, I am conducting a review to confirm the validity of the Business Property Relief claim in respect of REDACTED’s estate.

REDACTED’s IHT400 return states that the business assets comprised a property management and development business. I have conducted a review of the deceased’s individual tax returns and the tax returns of both REDACTED Ltd and REDACTED LLP but have not been able to identify any evidence of business activity beyond the holding of property as investments.”

HMRC are now claiming the IHT on the full amount, which runs into millions of pounds, in addition to interest on the unpaid IHT, which is racking up at a significant daily rate.


  • The planning does not work and if you have engaged in it, you will suffer losses;
  • Elysium Law has now been approached by numerous clients who have submitted claims for BPR during probate that have been rejected;
  • The deceased’s estate not only faces a significant increase in the IHT payable but also considerable interest, which is increasing daily as well as penalties;
  • We have not seen any advice from Chris Bailey or LT4L to contradict HMRC and Elysium Law believe that the Executors who have submitted claims for relief as a result, have a claim in professional negligence.

Elysium Law has an outstanding track record of bringing, defending, and settling high-value and complex cases.

Contact us today for more information if you have been affected, completing our enquiry page or call us at 0151-328-1968

CGT Rebasing – Why Less Tax For Landlord’s Planning Doesn’t Work

Elysium Law has posted several articles on this issue in recent weeks. Since HMRC’s Spotlight 63, we have been continuously approached by landlords who have entered into the planning with LT4L, Chris Bailey or the Bailey Group and they are concerned as to what the best course of action to take is.

At this point, it is probably wise to step back and look at the planning itself and why HMRC says it doesn’t work.

We will break down the key aspects of the planning and the claimed advantages of using it as well as providing HMRC’s view and our opinion of that.

The Structure

By now, especially as you may have used the planning, you will likely be familiar with the structure of the planning. Simply put:

  1. The Landlord (and/or family members) set up a Limited Company and an LLP with the Limited Company as a Corporate member of the LLP.
  2. The Landlord transfers their properties into the LLP and then the Landlord as an individual member of the LLP allocates profits to themselves remaining basic rate taxpayers, excess profits are then allocated to the Limited Company.
  3. The Corporate Member then claims a deduction for finance costs.

The Claimed CGT Advantages

LT4L and Chris Bailey claim that the planning results in a Base Cost Uplift to for Capital Gains Purposes to the date of transfer to the LLP

This means that when you come to sell the property, the Capital Gain is calculated on the value when the property was transferred into the LLP, which ordinarily will be higher than when you originally purchased it. The claim is therefore that this will result in a lower gain and consequently lower CGT being paid.

Our view is that LT4L’s planning is based on a total misconception that Incorporation Relief applies in this instance.

Our Analysis

If on the transfer into the LLP an element of Capital is transferred to the Company, then this element would be rebased for the Company, but that would also trigger an immediate CGT charge to the Client. Any disposal of a property from the LLP is treated as transparent and therefore the Client’s base cost is used to calculate CGT. HMRC explains this in example 2 here, which is taken from their Capital Gains Manual.

It is claimed by the scheme promotors that the Incorporation Relief rules apply here. To clarify HMRC states regarding Incorporation Relief:

“you may be able to delay paying Capital Gains Tax if you transfer your business to a company in return for shares”


The fundamental flaw here is that you are not transferring your business to a COMPANY in exchange for SHARES, you are transferring it to an LLP – under a Trust arrangement, an entity which does not have shares.

The following questions regarding CGT rebasing were put to Chris Bailey by a trusted colleague of ours.

Trusted Advisor: “You advised that on the transfer into the LLP the properties would be rebased for CGT purposes. I questioned this and although I appreciate that they would be recorded in the LLP accounts at fair market value, on a disposal of a property the LLP would be treated as transparent and as such CLIENT’s base cost would be used for the purposes of the CGT calculation. You advised that this wouldn’t be the case and that he would only be subject to CGT on any growth from the date of contribution into the LLP. I can see that on the transfer into the LLP if an element of capital is transferred to the Company then this would rebase that element for the benefit of the company, but it would also trigger CGT on CLIENT’s disposal to the company. So, on the basis that no CGT is triggered on the transfer into the LLP, I assume that all capital is retained by CLIENT. This is demonstrated in HMRC example 2 on the attached: where it demonstrates that the base cost for the disposal is the original base cost (not the uplifted market value).” (Trusted Advisor)

Chris Bailey: “An LLP is an incorporated partnership and as such the incorporation relief rules can be applied”.

Trusted Advisor: “How can incorporation relief apply to an LLP? Incorporation relief requires a person to transfer a business to a company in exchange for shares. The LLP is a corporate body, but it is not a company and cannot issue shares so I can’t see how this could apply or the impact it would have on CLIENT’ CGT base cost. Please can you clarify?”

Chris Bailey: “The LLP’s capital account is increased by the level of the equity. The same rules apply as in a company environment, in that if the LLP is closed down then the CGT would become payable – just as in a company environment.”

As you can see, the question remains unanswered.

Elysium Law has spoken to multiple individuals who used this planning and subsequently received a revised and unexpected CGT calculation from HMRC on the basis of the original value of the properties, not their rebased value as claimed by Chris Bailey.

This of course has resulted in a very large tax charge and had the individuals been aware, it would certainly have affected their decision to sell the properties.


Despite LT4L and Chris Bailey’s claims that there is a CGT Base Cost Uplift, Elysium Law has now been approached by numerous clients who have now had to pay CGT from the date of purchase of the assets, not the uplifted value.

We have seen no advice from Chris Bailey or LT4L as to what they should do, and our view is that they have a claim in professional negligence. Elysium Law has an outstanding track record of bringing, defending, and settling high-value and complex cases.

Contact us today for more information if you have been affected.