An Example of How poor Ownership Structuring Can be Painful.

Homer and Marge own 5 investment properties all jointly as Joint Tenants. All in NSW and with a combined land value of $1,200,000.

Homer is on the top marginal tax rate and Marge doesn’t work.

They have reached their borrowing capacity.

They have just paid off their main residence and are saving about $10,000 per month.

Issues

  1. Land tax

Combined land tax is $9,236 (2018 year)

If they have owned $600,000 worth of land each then there would be no land tax

  • CGT

If they sell any investment property 50% of the gain will go to Homer. They can’t divert the income to Marge.

  • Paying Down Debt

They have excess cash, ideally this would applied to Marge’s debt as she would pay less tax. But as all the loans are joint they are stuck with reducing the debt relating to both Homer and Marge

  • Offset Accounts

Similar with the cash savings/buffer. It must go into an offset account liked to a joint loan so Homer’s income will increase.

Death Planning

Because they own everything as joint tenants if one dies there is no opportunity to get half of the assets into a testamentary discretionary trust. This will result in extra tax being payable after the death of one of them.

Possible Solutions?

As they have reached their borrowing cap there may not be much they can do if they cannot qualify for a loan. But they could consider

  1. Spouse A selling 50% of the property to Spouse B.
  2. Selling on property and buying a replacement in Marge’s name only
  3. Save up and lend cash to a trustee of a discretionary trust which will buy property and then divert the rental income to Marge
  4. Sever the Joint Tenancy so they hold the existing properties as Tenants in Common in equal shares – no duty, no CGT and easy to do without triggering a loan reassessment. They could then each leave their shares of the properties to the trustee of a testamentary discretionary trust controlled by the other spouse. Half the rents could then be streamed to the children potentially tax free.
  5. Etc
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