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16. Civil partnerships

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 will be brought into force on 5 December 2005. The broad effect of the Act will be to give equal rights to same-sex couples who enter into a civil partnership with each other.

For tax purposes, civil partners will be treated in the same way as a married couple, and the necessary changes will take effect from 5 December 2005. This will mean that tax charges, reliefs and anti-avoidance rules will apply equally to married couples and civil partners. Effect to the changes will be given by regulations.

These changes will, for example, enable a civil partner to make gifts to their partner which are exempt from inheritance tax, to transfer assets on a no gain/no loss basis for capital gains tax purposes and to be treated equally in respect of pension rights. However civil partners will have to accept the disadvantage of married couples tax treatment as well as the benefits. For example, a couple will only be able to have one principal residence for capital gains tax purposes and the settlements anti-avoidance legislation will apply to civil partners in the same way as it applies to husbands and wives.

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