Because property is likely to be the most valuable asset you ever own, it's important your ownership structure is right.
A property ownership structure describes the way the property is owned. Is it owned by one person, a group of people or jointly by husband and wife? When it comes time to sell the asset, these considerations are important.
If it’s a shared property, you could put the property in the highest income earner’s name to maximise gearing benefits. Or you could share ownership between high and low income earners to spread the capital gain and income tax liabilities.
Knowing the options that are available to you is important. Your personal situation can often change in life, and so will your investment needs. You may have a relationship breakdown, you might start a property business or you may just want the benefit of tax savings. This guide to changing property ownership will help you determine which property ownership structure best suits you.
Types of ownership structure
- Outright ownership: In this structure you are the sole owner. Your name alone is on the deed and are responsible for the property.
- Joint ownership: Here you own the property equally with someone else. This shouldn’t be confused with “owners/tenants in common” where owners can have a different size share in the property.
- Trust ownership: This is where the property is owned and managed by a trust or another figure. A trust is an entity which holds assets in trust on behalf of its beneficiaries. There are a number of trust types around, although the most commonly seen are family trusts. These are useful for when property is being left to younger family members.
- Company ownership: You can also own property through a company. This isn’t the best setup for the small investor, because profits are taken up by business taxes and income tax should you wish to take a wage from the investment. On the other hand, it could be beneficial if the owner’s tax rate is over 30% because the company will pay less tax. This all assumes it is an investment property and not the owner’s principle place of residency, in which case the owner would not pay any capital gains tax on a sale.
Costs of changing ownership
- Stamp duty. Changing property ownership will incur stamp duty, which will be calculated based on the valuation of the land. Usually it is between 3 - 5.5 per cent. In some states like Victoria, stamp duty can be waived. Find out more here.
- Capital gains tax (CGT). Selling or transferring ownership may incur a CGT. If the sale involves an investment property, then the seller will need to pay CGT. As a general rule, it is 25% of the capital gain. Read more about Capital Gains Tax
- Fees. When you sell or transfer the title of a property, you change the conditions of the mortgage, which may incur break fees. If you require a lawyer, there may also be legal fees and valuation fees.
The Property Tax Specialists are an award-winning leader in the Australian taxation field, with strengths in accounting, marketing and business. They can help with matters of asset protection, property investing, accounting and taxation, including capital gains tax enquiries. Fill out this form with your query to get into contact with an expert from Property Tax Specialists today.
Beware of tax legislation
There are anti-tax avoidance rules that state you must have a valid reason for transferring the title of a property apart from tax benefits. Be sure you know your reason and be certain to document it.
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