ATO warns property developers to declare income
The ATO has issued a media release warning property developers against using trusts to return the proceeds from property developments as capital gains instead of income.
Deputy Commissioner Tim Dyce said, “A growing number of property developers are using trusts to suggest a development is a capital asset to generate rental income, and claim the 50% capital gains discount.
Furthermore, he said that the ATO has begun auditing property developers who are carrying out activities which seem to be in conflict with their claim that they are undertaking a capital investment.
Some pointers to that are:
- finance arrangements indicate the property is to be sold within a certain timeframe;
- communication with local councils indicate sales plans; or
- real estate agents are engaged early in the process for off-the-plan sales.
In addition, the property is often sold soon after completion of the development, where the underlying property may have been held for as little as 13 months.
He suggested that taxpayers in these situations should consider self-amending to correct their tax return, as penalties of up to 75% of the tax avoided can apply.