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HMRC on selling your Olympic torch

8th Jun 2012
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As the Olympic torch relay makes its way around the country HMRC has published guidance on ‘Selling your Olympic Torch’ and whether you can expect to be charged tax.

The Revenue explained that if the torch is worth less than £6,000 when you sell it then you will not have to pay capital gains tax (CGT) on your proceeds. If it is worth more than £6,000 then you will have a chargeable gain, and you may have to pay CGT, depending on whether you have other gains in the tax year.

If you have to pay CGT, the rate charged will be either 18% or 28% - depending on your total income for the year.

HMRC warned that you should bear in mind the possibility that selling your torch might be, or might be part of, a trade, in which case any profit would be charged to income tax rather than CGT.

“People who occasionally sell a few personal possessions to raise some cash are not trading, but the things they sell may still give rise to taxable gains as explained above. However if someone regularly sells goods or services, they are likely to be trading and will be liable to Income Tax on their trading profits,” according to the guidance.

If you intend to sell your torch and give the proceeds to charity through Gift Aid, HMRC explained that depending on the amount received, you may incur a CGT charge. There is no exemption from CGT even if you donate the money you receive on selling the torch to charity.

If you donate the sale proceeds after CGT to a charity you will be able to make the donation of money under Gift Aid. For every £100 you donate the charity will reclaim £25 from HMRC.

However the Revenue explained that In order for the donation to be valid under Gift Aid you will need to pay enough income tax or CGT in the tax year to cover the amount of tax the charity will reclaim on your gift.

Finally HMRC said that if you give the torch to a charity for them to keep or sell themselves there will be no charge to CGT.

Further reading:

Replies (7)

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By esimps
08th Jun 2012 18:14

Love this explanation of capital gains tax. This has to be one of my favorite articles on AccountingWeb. I wasn't sure if this was a genuine announcement or not, but yes it is true after clicking on the link provided I can see that HMRC have actually released information on the tax treatment of selling an olympic torch!!!

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the sea otter
By memyself-eye
08th Jun 2012 21:00

Ahhh HMRC guidance..

Reminds me of the old days when we couldn't bring more than one bottle of wine back from France lest we were arrested at Dover by the then customs and excise men. This is typical of the small minded pointless (cos how will they ever know?) big brother attitude that pervades HMRC.

I actually did disembark at Dover in 1979 with 16 bottles of wine secreted in an MG Midget (you can fit four bottles a side between the wings and the inner flich plates, two under each seat and four behind the driver's seat)  and being first off the ferry,were stopped by the excise man who saw how small the car was and how much camping gear we had, and waved me and my girlfriend through.... 

We're married now (30 years) :)


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By Ken Howard
09th Jun 2012 10:50


I simply can't believe how HMRC have managed to publish this guidance so quickly and for something that will be of relevance to so few people.  

There is soooooooo much that HMRC needs to focus on that is of far more importance to a far greater number of people.  They take years to play "catch up", especially with fast moving technology which means they're always out of date when they finally issue revised guidance in a fast moving world.

If only they could move so fast in all the areas of doubt that are relevant to far greater numbers of people & businesses.

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By carnmores
09th Jun 2012 12:25


a torch bearer and HMRC get an honourable silver!

they should have had only 4 torches one for each country

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Mark Lee headshot 2023
By Mark Lee
09th Jun 2012 19:06


Ignoring those who buy a torch for onward sale (as part of their market trading activities), the CGT position is NOT adequately addressed in the HMRC press release, or in the summary above I'm afraid.

Surely most people will not be subject to CGT unless they sell their torch for more than £10,600 (the annual exemption for CGT).  

The references to £6,000 (the chattels exemption) are irrelevant unless you have other chargeable gains in the same tax year and want to be able to ignore the sale of chattels when computing your total chargeable gains.

Anyone know what the going rate will be for the torches after the Games are over?


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Replying to justsotax:
By tonycourt
13th Jun 2012 20:52

Am I going barmy?

Leaving aside the trading question I think you can also forget about the chattels exemption.  An Olympic torch is a mechanical device containing valves which operate to let the fuel through to keep the flame going. In my book that makes it machinery and so automatically a wasting asset and exempt from CGT. Of course it's unlikely any torch will fetch enough to exceed the chattels exemption, but as a matter of principle I think HMRC have got it wrong.

This is the second notice about the Olympics that I know of where HMRC's advice was, in my view at least, wrong. The first was about the application of rent-a-room relief.

Gee I'm getting pedantic in my old age!


PS I think the price of certain torches, those used by celebs,  could top £6,000 post games - it might depend on how many golds we win!


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By justsotax
11th Jun 2012 08:50 that the fictitious ebay

price or what the actual going rate is....

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