Tax ‘safe harbour’ for inherited property

When someone inherits a dwelling there are some special rules contained within the main residence exemption provisions that can provide a full exemption if certain conditions are met. If the conditions are not met, the beneficiary might face a nasty capital gains tax (CGT) bill for their good fortune.

In some cases, these conditions require the inherited property to be sold within two years of the date of death to qualify for the exemption, although the Commissioner has the discretion to extend this period in some situations. To simplify the tax requirements for beneficiaries (and executors) and ensure that they don’t have the threat of a large tax bill hanging over their head, the ATO has outlined a safe harbour for inherited property.

The safe harbour allows beneficiaries and executors to apply the exemption if the property is sold more than 2 years after the date of death without having to seek approval from the ATO, as long as the property is sold within 3 years of the date of death and certain other conditions are satisfied. This could be relevant where there was a delay in selling the property because of factors beyond the control of the beneficiary or executor such as a challenge to the will or where the complexity of the estate delays the completion of the administration process.

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