‘In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes’ – said Benjamin Franklin, but he wouldn’t have known about a rather unusual bridge.
Whitney Bridge is one of only eight privately owned toll bridges in the UK and as you can imagine, it is somewhat smaller than the Seven Bridge or the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge near Dartford, but it has one remarkable feature that makes this bridge on the River Wye in Herefordshire worth a second look.
It isn’t that this bridge has a very nice income estimated to be £100,000 net of maintenance charges (not bad for a market value of £800,000 including the cottage) or that fact that the income is entirely tax free. The bridge comes with a very specific exemption. The 1780 and 1797 Acts of Parliament granted a very attractive tax concession to the owners and this exemption is still in force today.
The owners are exempt from all taxes! This includes income tax, capital gains tax council rates and yes, even inheritance tax – potentially the biggest tax bill you may ever have, and not just on the actual bridge and the accompanying cottage, two acres of grounds and the river frontage, but on everything owned by the bridge owners.
We all accept that we have to pay our fair share of taxes towards the provision and maintenance of public services, but we all have a desire to save tax wherever possible. We make use of ISAs and pension contributions, enterprise investment schemes and inheritance tax plans to help minimise our personal tax positions and why not. Financial and tax legislation allows us these opportunities and they are there to be used, but who hasn’t once thought what it would be like to have our taxes waived, all of them, – even just for a short time without realising that all it took was to own a very particular bridge!
It might all seem too good to be true, but this simply explains why this 240 year old bridge has only ever had four owners – including one family that owned the bridge for 180 years.
By the time you read this article, the sale may have been agreed. At Mantle Financial Planning we can not arrange for the purchase of a quaint country side bridge, but we have expertise in advising on a very wide range of tax planning strategies that can help reduce income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax.
If you would like more information or advice on your personal financial circumstances, please contact us >>