@geoff_faulkner I have recent experience and can tell you (to a point!)
As far as the UK is concerned, you need to pay CGT there and it is not a terribly straightforward calculation. It’s based on the increase in the value of the house since 2015, combined with the amount of time you’ve been non-resident less 18 months! If you were, for example, resident in France for the whole of that time, you would have to calculate it based on the difference between what the house was worth in 2015 and what you sold it for, but the period of non-residence would be from 2015 to the time at which you sold it. I strongly suggest you actually talk to HMRC about that - they have become more responsive to phone calls recently.
As far as France is concerned, nominally your tax is based on how long you have owned the house for, More than 30 years and you can forget tax. Lower than that and some tax needs to be paid. I contacted the local Tax office to talk about this and they said I didn’t need to pay anything because I’d paid in the UK. This is in direct contravention to the published rules on the tax website here so I have kept the emails!
Unfortunately the dual taxation agreement only applies to income, not capital gains so it is very possible you will end up paying tax twice. Sorry about that but if your local tax office here is approachable, please go and talk to them!
Is this a recent thing, or dependent on the relative values involved? We sold our flat in England after about 10 or so years of ownership when we came to live here in 1999 and it never occurred to me that CGT had to be paid to anyone.
The problem is if, as I think Geoff has and I did, you have been resident in France for some time at the time of the property sale, then the rule about primary residence doesn’t apply. Also, if you don’t spend the money (no idea how much of it) on a new primary residence within a certain period (I think 18 months) then French CGT does still apply even if the house being sold was genuinely your (only) primary residence.
The HMRC guidance and calculator is fine but I still think that the OP would probably be more confident if he spoke to someone!
I forgot about the 30 day limit - so thanks for mentioning that. In theory it applies on the French side as well.
The difficulty is that the UK and French rules are so completely different that it’s not easy to compare. In the UK it doesn’t matter, I think, how long you’ve owned the property, you still have to pay CGT on the increase (if it’s not fully your primary residence) whereas in France, if it’s a secondary residence you are exempt if you’ve had it for 30 years and the CGT is a sliding scale depending on how long you’ve owned it. I think I have that right…
I agree completely with that, Jane - I’m sure that’s what happened to me!
I am also fairly sure, @David_Spardo , that selling your house that close to starting residence here would have been fine! It was a lot more ambiguous for me because I’d been resident here for 4 years when I sold it