Transfer duty is a tax levied upon the purchaser of immovable property situated in South Africa. The duty is levied in accordance with the following sliding scale and is based on the value of the property which is the subject of the transfer:
Value of the property (R)
0 – 900 000
0% 900 001 – 1 250 000
3% of the value above R900 000 1 250 001 – 1 750 000
R10 500 6% of the value above R 1 250 000 1 750 001 – 2 250 000
R40 500 8% of the value above R 1 750 000 2 250 001 – 10 000 000
R80 500 11% of the value above R2 250 000 10 000 001 and above
R933 000 13% of the value above R10 000 000
While the sliding scale above previously only applied to natural persons acquiring property, this is no longer the case, and legal persons too are subject to transfer duty based on the above table. (Previously, legal persons were subject to transfer duty simply at the maximum rate in the table being applied to the entire value of transfers where a legal entity bought property).
Based on the above table therefore property transfers involving property worth less than R900,000 are effectively exempt from transfer duty, although the tax exposure may quickly thereafter jump to involve significant amounts. From the perspective of individuals buying property financed by way of a mortgage bond registered in favour of a lending bank, the duty quickly becomes a material consideration when purchasing a property, considering that the financing of the duty is typically not covered by financing provided by a commercial bank and which therefore may require the duty to be settled by way of existing cash resources available to prospective buyers.
Most notably, property transfers on which the transfer duty may be levied are not limited to transfers of immovable property only, but also includes the transfer of shares of so-called “property rich residential companies”, that is the sale of shares in a company where more than 50% of the value of such a company is derived from residential property owned by that company.
Various exemption apply in respect of transfers of property where the transfer duty will not be levied. These include where the transfer involves a transaction where the relevant group relief provisions of the Income Tax Act are applied, or where the transfer is subject to VAT (i.e. where the seller sells the property as part of its VAT enterprise).
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)