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Smart Moves: Understanding Capital Gains Tax for Home Sellers


Smart Moves: Understanding Capital Gains Tax for Home Sellers

Category Money Matters

Understanding Capital Gains Tax (CGT) is crucial for homeowners in South Africa, especially when dealing with property sales. CGT is applied to the profit earned from transferring ownership of a capital asset, such as a house, through sale, inheritance, gifts, or donations. It is relevant to various legal entities, including individuals, companies, and trusts. However, CGT on the sale of a primary home typically comes into play when the individual makes a profit exceeding R2 million.

To ensure compliance and readiness for potential CGT obligations, homeowners should have a solid grasp of the fundamental principles of CGT. It is essential to understand that CGT is calculated based on the property's base price, which encompasses not only the original purchase price but also additional costs such as capital improvements, real estate agent commissions, compliance certificates, and legal fees associated with the sales transaction. Homeowners are advised to maintain records, particularly for renovations and improvements, to support CGT calculations.

It's crucial to note that routine maintenance costs, such as internal and external painting or roof repairs due to wear and tear, cannot be added to the base price.

To illustrate the calculation process, consider the following example for a primary residence:

  1. Original purchase price = R 2.5 million
  2. Agent's commission and other applicable fees = R 200,000
  3. Renovations = R 400,000
  4. Selling price = R 4,000,000

Base cost: R 2,500,000 + R 200,000 + R 400,000 = R 3,100,000
Profit: R 4,000,000 - R 3,100,000 = R 900,000

Given the primary residence exclusion, the taxable CGT is zero, as the profit does not exceed R2 million.

However, if the selling price were R6,000,000, with a profit of R2,900,000, CGT would be calculated on the remaining R900,000. The CGT rates, as per SARS 2023 guidelines, are 18% for individuals (resulting in R162,000) and 36% for properties purchased through a trust (resulting in R324,000).

Several factors can influence CGT calculations, such as income from renting out parts of the primary residence or running an Airbnb. Homeowners claiming office costs for a home office may also impact their primary residence exclusion.

Caution is advised when selling a property used for rental purposes, as the primary residence exclusion does not apply. In such cases, consulting a qualified tax practitioner is recommended to ensure accurate calculations.

For those contemplating property sales, reaching out to a local real estate agent is advisable. These professionals not only facilitate property sales but can also recommend reliable tax practitioners to assist with necessary calculations, providing a comprehensive and streamlined process for homeowners.

Author Jack Russell Estates
Published 08 Feb 2024 / Views -
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