Investment Properties – What happens when you sell?

When you sell an investment property, you are likely to make a capital gain or profit and will be required to pay tax on it.  The tax consequences depend on a range of issues, from whether you inherited or purchased the property, to your intention for the property if it was a new build.

In certain circumstances, an inherited property can be tax free when it is sold, but this is dependent on who you inherited the property from, how they used the property before you and when you sold it.  Was it an investment property for them or a principal place of residence?  The answers to these questions will have a bearing on whether there is no taxable capital gain or whether you will end up with a large amount of tax to pay.

Your intention for an investment property can make a difference on whether the ATO will consider it to be subject to capital gains tax or if it should be considered a profit-making venture, especially if you are building on vacant land.  Your intention should be made clear from the outset and documented to avoid complications further down the track.  If your intention is to build a property and keep it for a number of years and rent it, this leans more to the fact that it should be treated as a capital gain.  If you have to sell earlier than you had wished for, the ATO could view it as being a profit-making venture, depending on the time frame between the build being complete and the sale.  This is where documenting your intention can become important.  Where you buy vacant land, or land with a house and demolish it, then proceed to build units on the land, the ATO will consider this a profit-making venture.  In this circumstance, you are likely to be required to register for GST as well.

There are many considerations that need to be taken into account when selling an investment property and it is not always a simple process to determine the tax consequences.

 

Danny Grigg – Senior Accountant

B.Comm CA