Investment Structures – What Suits You?

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to structures. When purchasing an investment property, or any investment asset for that matter, you should consider whether you are purchasing the asset in an appropriate structure. Did you know that Walker Hill works with both business and asset structure? 

You should consider several factors when making any investment decision, including the following:

  • Asset protection
  • Income tax efficiency
  • Ability to borrow within the structure
  • Tax efficiencies on disposal of the asset
  • Succession planning

Investment properties are commonly held within structures such as the below as they are entitled to the general discount on any potential capital gain generated where the asset is held for more than 12 months. 

A company structure does not enjoy such a concession. For individuals and trusts for example this may result in any capital gain being discounted by 50% and you only pay tax on half of the gain.

Popular structures for holding investment properties include:

  • Ownership in an individual name
  • Ownership in a family discretionary trust
  • Ownership in a self-managed super fund

Protecting your assets

If you start operating as a sole trader, you may expose risk to your investment assets if litigation is brought against you personally. Your investment property could be exposed as a personal asset. If you have a spouse, they may have a lower risk profile or generate lower assessable income each year which may support the notion of acquiring the property in their name.

Alternatively, you could consider holding any investments in a protected entity such as a family trust which also gives the flexibility to potentially direct income to various family members. Each year, the trustee can resolve to distribute the income and any capital gain on the potential disposal of the property to beneficiaries as they see fit. As an extra level of asset protection, a company could act as a corporate trustee of the trust. unlikely going to result in transfer duty whereas if you held the property in your own name and transferred it, they would likely incur transfer duty on the transaction.

Positive or negative gearing? 

Another consideration when owning an investment property is whether it is positively or negatively geared. Positive gearing refers to the situation where the income received from the assets (the rent collected) is greater than the costs of owning that property. Negative gearing conversely occurs when the income is not sufficient to cover the costs of maintaining the property. Depreciation for tax purposes can also result in an even larger loss.

Purchasing a property through your SMSF

Self-managed superannuation funds can also be utilised to purchase properties. There are additional complexities and regulations around holding properties in self-managed superfunds and borrowing within this structure can be challenging. This structure is often used to take advantage of the lower tax rates and concessions once you meet pension phase. We recommend you contact Walker Hill for financial advice around whether a self-managed super fund would be appropriate in your circumstances.

As previously mentioned, there is no “one suits all” approach when investing in property. There are a lot of different details that need to be assessed to make the most out of your investment.If you are considering purchasing an investment asset, contact Walker Hill to discuss an appropriate structure, or plan, for you.