Tax and legal advice
Philippe Brach

Capital gains tax: what every investor should know

By Philippe Brach

There’s one aspect of property investing that you really need to get your head around when you become a landlord, and that is taxes.

Blogger: Philippe Brach, CEO, Multifocus Properties and Finance 

It may sound boring, but in this respect the truth is: what you don’t know can bite you in the back pocket and take a huge chunk out of your profits.

From the second you sign a contract to buy a property, you will be introduced to a world of taxes that seemingly never end, including stamp/transfer duty, land tax and capital gains tax (CGT).

It’s important to view tax as being part of the cost of doing business as an investor; if you agonise over the payments, you’ll just cause yourself stress.

It’s also important that you have an understanding of the rules that surround certain tax situations. For instance, CGT can be a complicated beast, so here are a few things you need to know:

1. It always pays to hold your asset for 12 months

I don’t like using blanket statements like ‘always’ but in this case, I feel like it’s appropriate. Why? Because if you hold your property asset for at least 12 months, you’ll get a massive 50 per cent discount on the amount of CGT you owe.

As a very basic example, if you were to make a $50,000 profit on a property deal, you would pay tax of between $8,060 and $24,500, depending on your annual income and current tax rate (inclusive of Medicare/budget repair levies).

By holding the asset for just 12 months, you can slice that tax bill in half – saving you literally thousands of dollars.

Now, there are investors or speculators in property who use a ‘reno and flip’ strategy, which means turning around a property in a short time frame. Their profits can be substantially eroded simply because they sell the property before 12 months have passed. In my view, this is a wasted opportunity to basically access free money.

2. Contract dates are very important

When the Australian Tax Office (ATO) assesses your property transactions for CGT, it looks at contract dates, not settlement dates. If you sign a contract on 1 April but you don’t settle the property until 30 August, the ATO deems you to have owned it from 1 April.

You only have to hold the property until 1 April the following year to meet the 12-month eligibility requirement for the 50 per cent CGT discount – even though you’ve technically only owned the property for seven months.

3. Only a capital loss will offset a capital gain

Let’s say you sell a property and, for whatever reason, you make a loss of $25,000. You also earn $80,000 income.

Come tax time, people often assume they can offset that $25,000 loss against their regular salary income (reducing their taxable income in this case to $55,000). But unfortunately, you’re not allowed to deduct a CGT loss against your income.

Instead, you carry that loss over from one financial year to the next until you experience a capital gain. In other words, selling an asset (such as property or shares) for a profit is the only way you can financially offset against a capital loss.

4. There is only one way to avoid CGT: just don’t sell

Holding your property assets for the long term is the easiest and most effective way to avoid paying CGT.

Of course, sometimes this isn’t possible. Your needs change over time; that negatively geared property that helped you minimise your high tax bills five years ago may be chewing through your disposable income now that you’ve changed careers to a lower-paying role.

But before you make the decision to sell any property, make sure you review your overall investment strategy and reconsider your goals.

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About the Blogger

Philippe Brach

Philippe Brach

Multifocus Properties & Finance was established in 2005 with the aim of mentoring investors to create wealth and invest in their future by building an investment property portfolio.

The company is led by Philippe Brach who has over 25 years experience in the international corporate world specializing in finance, accounting and investment. He is a fully qualified and extremely experienced real estate agent, concentrating his attention solely on investment opportunities around Australia. In addition he is a highly regarded mortgage broker, being accredited with around 35 different lenders.

FROM THE WEB

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With the softening market impacting property values in many parts of Australia, Sally Dale, Opteon state director for NSW, ACT and Qld joins us to discuss the importance of valuations in the current property market

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Joining host Phil Tarrant, Sally will draw on her 25 years of experience in valuation and discuss the processes involved in arriving at a value for a particular property. She will also share how that process differs between commercial and residential properties and the difficulties which regional property valuations can present.

Sally will unpack the importance and cost of regular valuations on your properties, discuss whether presentation and owner input can sway a valuation and share what you should look for when seeking a reputable property valuer.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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Sydney
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Adelaide

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A softening market can be a difficult time for a property investor with finance approval tightening and property capital growth slowing, and while many real estate agents are also feeling the squeeze McGrath Brighton Le Sands' Bill Tsounias claims it is simply the market returning to normal.

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In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, Bill joins host Phil Tarrant to share his thoughts on the current Sydney property market, and to share the shifts that he has seen in house and unit sale prices following their worst quarter in the past decade.

Bill will unpack why properties are spending longer on market, share what he believes property investors are doing wrong when trying to sell their properties and share the secrets to getting the best out of a real estate agent and an auction in the current softening market.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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Top 100 ranked agent Bill Tsounias shares the secrets to getting the best deal in a softening market
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Gavin Kemp and his now-fiancé bought their first property together after only six months of dating. They weren’t even living together at the time. Now, two years on, the pair have bought five properties, sold two and have a solid plan in place for their ongoing property journey. 

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In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, Gavin joins host Phil Tarrant to discuss how he chose the locations where he decided to invest and how, due to the initial lack of education (something that he now values highly), he lost money on his first two investments.

Gavin will share his thoughts on the current property market, reveal the people who he has leaned on throughout his property journey and discuss why his strategy employs a zero procrastination rule.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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Launceston
Raceview

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A joint property portfolio before they were even living together

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