Investment with a solid foundation

Buying real estate is more than finding the right home or location for your business – owning property is an investment that holds more benefits than you might know.

Income Predictability

While interest rates may alter mortgage repayments at first, real estate offers a somewhat constant financial investment. Once home loans are repaid in full, real estate offers the owner a constant income that does not fluctuate with the market, an income that can increase with inflation. Of all the investment types, real estate is the safest from external influence.

Increasing Value

Property appreciates in value over time. Thanks to South Africa’s reliable climate, real estate investments rarely depreciate due to natural causes, so long as the property is well looked after by its tenants and owner. Appreciation levels have increased at 6% per year, on average, since 1968, meaning your investment will grow no matter what.

Improve Your Investment

Where other investments rely on the financial market, the greater economy and an organisation’s performance to increase their value, property value can be greatly improved by improving the actual property. With a little elbow grease and dedicated planning, you can increase the value of your investment yourself.

Retirement Ready

A great benefit of owning property is that it is there when you need it the most. While the initial burden of home loan down-payments on cashflow can be rather strenuous, the weight lessens considerably over the years as the principal reduction increases. This means that your cashflow will increase as you near retirement, allowing you to invest your money more appropriately.

Up Your Equity

While you pay off your home loan, you are also increasing your equity as your property counts as an asset in your net worth. Through increased equity you will be able to gain more leverage in financial situations, when obtaining a loan, for example, and you will be able to grow your wealth more steadily as well.

Portfolio Diversification

Real estate investment holds less risk than other major class investments, allowing you to create a diversified and safer investment portfolio. Through a diversified investment portfolio, you ensure that your investments are not all influenced by the same external factors, such as a fall in share value (as has been seen during the COVID-19 pandemic).

When you start looking at investment options, it may be a wise decision to consider including real estate in your portfolio early on. Remember to reign in the assistance of the experts to help you find the perfect property to invest in.

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)

Buying out shareholders

We are often approached by clients to advise on the most tax efficient manner in which a shareholder can sell an investment in a private company. Typically, the parties involve a majority shareholder of a company that is interested in buying out the minority shareholders in the company and which will ensure that that majority shareholder becomes the single remaining shareholder of that company.

 

In essence, two options are available through which a shareholder may dispose of a share in a company to achieve the above goal: it could either sell its shares to the purchasing shareholder, or it could sell the shares owned back to the company (i.e. a so-called “share buyback”). These two different options have varying tax consequences, and taxpayers should take care that these (often material) transactions are structured in the most tax appropriate manner possible.

 

Where a share is sold to another shareholder, the selling shareholder will simply pay a capital gains tax related cost. For companies, such capital gains tax related cost will effectively be 22.4% of the gains realised, whereas the rate for trusts is 36% (if gains are not distributed to beneficiaries), or up to 18% if the seller is an individual.

 

Where shares are however sold back to the company whose shares are being traded, that share buyback constitutes a dividend for tax purposes (to the extent that contributed tax capital is not used to fund that repurchase). Capital gains tax is therefore no longer relevant, but rather the dividends tax. Dividends would typically attract dividends tax (levied at 20%), rather than capital gains taxes.

 

It may therefore be beneficial for an existing shareholder (that is itself a company) to opt for its shares to be sold back to the company whose shares are held (and which shares are therefore effectively cancelled), rather than to sell these to the remaining shareholders and pay capital gains tax. This is because if the shares are sold to the remaining shareholders, a 22.4% capital gains tax related cost arises. However, where the shares are bought back, the “dividend” received by the company will be exempt from dividends tax and therefore no dividends tax should arise, since SA resident companies are exempt from the dividends tax altogether. A company selling its shares back to the entity in which it held the shares may therefore dispose of its investment without paying any tax whatsoever: no capital gains are realised since the shareholder receives a “dividend” for tax purposes, and the dividend itself is also exempt from dividends tax.

 

Share buybacks have become a hot topic recently and National Treasury has now moved to introduce certain specific anti-avoidance measures and reporting requirements that apply in certain circumstances. Still, there are perfectly legitimate ways in which to structure many corporate restructures where a buyout of shareholders takes place, and taxpayers will be well-advised to seek professional advice to ensure that such transactions are structured in as tax effective manner as possible.

 

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 financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)