Acquisition of Immovable property: Transfer Duty or VAT or Exemption

Transfer Duty:
Transfer Duty is payable within six (6) months from the date of acquisition (the date of acquisition is the date on which the transaction was entered into, that is the date on which the last-contracting party signed the agreement).

If the Transfer Duty is not paid within this period, interest, calculated at 10% per annum, is payable for each completed month after the initial 6 months. The 6 month rule applies regardless of whether the agreement is subject to any conditions. For example, if a Seller accepts an Offer to Purchase on the 15th of August 2017, subject to the purchaser obtaining finance by the 15th of September 2017, the date of acquisition is the 15th of August 2017, not the date on which the Purchaser meets the condition. Similarly, an addendum that sets out further terms or amendments to the original agreement does not alter the date of acquisition.

Do not think you can take advantage by cancelling an agreement and then entering into a new agreement in respect of the same property. Such a transaction shall be seen as having been entered into for the purpose of evading or avoiding transfer duty.

Transfer duty is based on the value of the property, not the price. In the case of a property acquired by way of a sale between a willing Purchaser and a willing Seller dealing at arm’s length on the open market, SARS will generally regard the purchase price to be the value of the property. But this principle may not always hold true.

Transfer duty is based on the highest being that of either:

  • The purchase price;
  • The declared value, which is the value placed on the property by the parties to the transaction where there is no consideration; or
  • The fair market value.

No transfer duty is payable if a property is acquired for R950 000.00 (Subject to change annually) or less.

It is common for developers to market properties by highlighting that Purchasers will not pay transfer duty. Instead, Purchasers will pay VAT of 14 percent, although this is included in the selling price.

The Transfer Duty Act exempts from duty, the acquisition of any property that falls into the category of goods supplied subject to VAT. The payment of VAT always takes precedence over transfer duty where the supplier is a VAT vendor.

Transfer duty is payable if the seller is a registered VAT vendor, but the property does not form part of the Seller’s enterprise. For example, if a VAT vendor sells his or her private residence, transfer duty does apply, because the property is not being supplied as part of the vendor’s business. If the Seller is not registered for VAT, but the Purchaser is and will use the property in the course of his or her VAT enterprise, the Purchaser will pay transfer duty, but will be entitled to claim a notional input tax.

No Transfer Duty or VAT
It is possible for a property purchase to be free of both transfer duty and VAT. In terms of the VAT Act, a transaction may be zero-rated (VAT applied at zero percent) if the following requirements are met:

  • Both the Seller and the Purchaser are registered as VAT vendors;
  • The Seller and the Purchaser agree in writing that the property is sold as a going concern;
  • The property is used for the purpose of earning an income;
  • The sale of the property includes all the assets required for carrying on the income-earning activity; and/or
  • The Seller and the Purchaser agree in writing, that the purchase price is inclusive of VAT at the rate of zero percent.

Further Exemptions: No Transfer Duty or VAT
Property transfers are exempt from transfer duty in the following circumstances:

  • Marriage in community of property: If someone who owns a property gets married in community of property, his or her spouse will automatically become the owner of a half-share of the property, without paying any transfer duty.
  • Divorce: Transfer duty does not apply if a property is awarded to a spouse in terms of a divorce order. The exemption applies to all marital regimes and to civil unions. However, if the property is not awarded to a spouse in terms of a divorce order and the parties reach an agreement outside of the formal divorce proceedings, the spouse who acquires the property will be liable for transfer duty.
  • Inheritance: Heirs and legatees (beneficiaries) are exempt from paying transfer duty on property inherited from a deceased estate, regardless of the nature of their relationship with the deceased and irrespective of whether or not the deceased died intestate (without a valid will).
  • Rectifying of registration errors: No duty is payable when an error in the registration of the property is corrected, provided the transfer duty applicable to the acquisition has been paid.
  • Transactions declared void by a court: If a transaction is declared void by a court and the property is transferred back to the original owner, there is no transfer duty to pay.
  • Transfers to trustees, administrators, beneficiaries and insolvent persons: Although transfer duty is payable on transfer to a trust, it is not payable in certain instances, such as when:
    • The registration of a property is changed because a trust or an insolvent estate appoints a new trustee or administrator.
    • The administrator of a trust transfers a property to someone who is entitled to it in terms of a will or other written instrument. This exemption applies only to testamentary trusts and inter vivos trusts where the beneficiaries are related to the founder of the trust.
    • A trustee transfers property back into the name of a previously insolvent person.
    • Freel

For more information, contact Intro Real Estate. It’s the right choice.

Article courtesy of Jan Jordaan Attorneys.