Capital Gains Tax (CGT) is a key area of tax that property investors should understand. While CGT may seem daunting, it’s not as bad as it may seem once you dig a little deeper. In this article, we detail CGT, including how to calculate it.

CGT defined
The CGT is a levy that you need to pay on the capital gains you make from the sale of an asset. This applies to all classes of assets, including property, shares, leases, goodwill, licenses, foreign currency, contractual rights and personal assets purchased for more than

What are the exemptions to CGT?
The exemptions to CGT are your primary place of residence, car and depreciating assets used solely for taxable purposes and any other assets purchased before 20 September 1985. If your primary residence is on more than two hectares or you haven’t lived in it for the entire period you’ve owned the asset, you will only be entitled to a partial CGT exemption.

How much is CGT?
The CGT isn’t a stand-alone tax. Instead, the difference between your capital gain and capital loss becomes part of your taxable income for that financial year. Assets sold through a business pay 3 per cent on capital gains, while SMSFs can apply a 33.3 per cent discount along with 15 per cent on the remainder of the gains.

How do you calculate CGT?
Your capital gain is added to your taxable income if you buy and sell a property within 12 months. If you hold a property for longer than 12 months, there are two methods to calculate CGT — discount and indexation.
Individuals can pick the calculation method, which leads to the lowest capital gain.

  • CGT discount method: Australian residents who have owned their property for more than 12 months are eligible for a 50 per cent discount on the capital gain.
  • Indexation method: If you purchased a property before 21 September 1999 and you’re an Australian resident, you could use the indexation method to calculate the capital gain. The indexation method applies a multiplier to your initial outlay in purchasing the property, which increases your purchase price into “today’s price” and reduces your capital gain.

What about capital losses?
If you make a loss on the sale of an asset, you can carry over the loss to reduce your CGT obligation in future income years. It’s important to note that you can’t subtract a capital loss from your taxable income. You can only carry it forward to reduce future capital gains. The ATO doesn’t impose a limit on how far you carry forward net capital losses.

If you’re unsure about your capital gains position and the most tax-effective way to structure asset purchases and sales, make sure you speak to your accountant to clarify your tax obligations.