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Did you know that if you’re selling your home you may need a capital gains withholding clearance certificate from the ATO? If you don’t, you may find a chunk of the sales proceeds from your home going to the tax man. The online process to obtain the certificate is quick and simple. Make sure you don’t get stung and get the certificate early.

In the market to sell your house? Before you call in the real estate agents and home stylists, you probably know that you’ll need to have a contract of sale handy. Did you know that you may also need to get a capital gains withholding clearance certificate from the ATO? This certificate allows ATO to identify whether withholding is required from the sale of Australian property and applies to any property where the contract price is $750,000 or above.

In the current market conditions, the $750,000 threshold means the need to obtain the clearance certificate would apply to the majority of real estate sales in capital cities and some larger regional centres around Australia. If you’re an Australian resident selling your home or investment property, applying for a certificate means that the purchaser will not have to withhold 12.5% of the purchase price. The online application process with the ATO is simple and requires only a few personal details, such as name, DOB, address, and TFN, in the case of an individual applicant.

For company applicants, name, TFN and ABN information are usually required. For trusts and superannuation funds, if the entity that has legal title to the asset is the trustee (in its capacity as either a company or an individual), then the trustee should apply for the clearance certificate using their own TFN or ABN (ACN can also be included as an attachment to the application).

It should be noted that even though the clearance certificate does not have to be provided to the purchaser until on or before the date of settlement (to ensure no withholding occurs), the online form should be lodged as soon as possible as it can take up to 14 working days to process.

If you’re a foreign resident and you’re selling a property in Australia, you do not need to complete a capital gain withholding clearance certificate as it doesn’t apply to you and you will be subject to the 12.5% withholding. However, you can apply to the ATO for a variation of the withholding rate in certain circumstances or make a declaration that a membership interest is not an indirect Australian real property interest and therefore not subject to withholding.

Just signed a contract to purchase a property for over $750,000? You should check with your conveyancer or lawyer that the vendor has provided the capital gains withholding clearance certificate or a declaration specifying that withholding isn’t required before settlement. Otherwise, you must withhold 12.5% of the contract price of the property and remit the amount to the ATO upon settlement of the property.

An ATO capital gains compliance certificate is valid for 12 months and can be used for multiple property sales.  The certificate indicates to the purchaser and the government that the seller is an Australian resident and therefore exempt from the foreign resident tax which is 12.5% off the sale price and withheld at the date of settlement.  If you do not have a compliance certificate at the date of sale, you will be treated as a foreign resident for the purposes of the sale.

Confused?

If you are selling your property, we can help you obtain your clearance certificate as well as outline any CGT consequences of such a sale and whether any exemptions are available. We can also help you determine whether you are a foreign resident if you’re unsure. Before you embark on perhaps one of the biggest financial decisions of your life contact us to ensure everything is as safe as houses.

Our firm provides the information in this e-newsletter for general guidance only, and does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services, investment advice, or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional tax, accounting, legal, or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation. Tax articles in this e-newsletter are not intended to be used, and cannot be used by any taxpayer, for the purpose of avoiding accuracy-related penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. The information is provided “as is,” with no assurance or guarantee of completeness, accuracy, or timeliness of the information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.