WAYS TO LEGALLY AVOID ABSD FOR SINGAPORE PROPERTIES

Indeed, the 1990s were a very exciting time for Singaporean real estate investors. They were so happy with how easy it was to buy real estate in Singapore, where each house they bought paid for the next one.

Read More: How to avoid paying ABSD

The income from one property paid for the second, and the rent from the second property paid for the third, thus the property investors were living the good life at that time.

Unfortunately, since the introduction of the new ABSD (Additional Buyers Stamp Duty) legislation, we have witnessed more and more nails being driven into the coffins of these tactics. Every property you possess after your first is subject to enormous taxes from the ABSD.

One benefit is that it will make buying your first house much more affordable. Additionally, if you intend to extend your home in Singapore, it will now come at a high cost.

1. EXECUTIVE CONDOMINIUM PURCHASES (FOR UPGRADERS)

When you just want to purchase a new house and don’t even intend to own two properties, the ABSD might be quite problematic. The substantial sums of 12 percent (or 15 percent for permanent residents) ABSD on the second property must still be paid in full beforehand.

In any case, if you sell your old property within six months after purchasing the new one, you can file for the remission. It still requires a significant amount of additional money, though, even if you don’t really need it.

The good news is that the ABSD only covers private condominiums; if you purchase an Executive Condominium (EC), you will not be subject to it. Even so, you won’t need to have a lot of additional cash up front because you will still need to sell your old home within six months.

2. RESETTLING (GIVEN THAT THE EXPENDITURES DO NOT GO OVER THE ABSD)

Although it is one of the most recommended approaches, bear in mind that it is not always effective and has drawbacks as well.

The fundamental idea behind how it operates is that one partner gives the other their portion, after which they purchase a new estate. They won’t be required to pay the ABSD on this property because they no longer own the old one.

Remember that there is a Buyers Stamp Duty (BSD) associated with this share transfer, which you will still need to pay.

Let’s use an almost $2 million piece of land as an example. In the end, your spouse transfers almost half of the estate to you. The BSD will now be your responsibility on half of it.

There will undoubtedly be additional stamp fees involved as well. For instance, the Sellers Stamp Duty (SSD) is required if the estate is sold within 36 months or three years of the acquisition. It usually only applies to the transferred piece.

In addition, you will be responsible for paying the decoupling costs, which typically run about $5,000.

In order to avoid wasting your money, you should always ensure that the decoupling procedure will be less expensive than the ABSD itself.

It’s also important to remember that a HDB cannot be detached. (The government eliminated this regulation on April 1st, 2016) Because of this, a lot of investors who want to own many properties usually sell their initial HDB, buy an executive condominium (as mentioned above), and then separate later.

3. Invest in a trust (you’ll need a lot of liquid assets to do this).

It’s as easy as buying a house and putting it in your children’s trust. At that point, it will belong to your kids, and ABSD won’t be due to you. But, use caution and choose a capable attorney, since this may occasionally be a complex affair.

For instance, your kids won’t be able to purchase a HDB apartment for themselves once they receive it from you under trust. They will also be required to pay ABSD on any further property purchases they make.

However, you will need to use caution in this situation. If the government finds out why you are doing this, they have the authority to levy the tax. Therefore, before proceeding, make sure to have a detailed discussion about it with your lawyer or see one of our recommended attorneys who has handled situations similar to this one to learn how to construct the trust out.

Furthermore, a bank loan is not available for trust property. It must be paid for using cash. You can, however, take out a mortgage or equity loan from your asset to at least take out a loan if you possess private property or other equity.

4. YOU CAN BUY TWO AFTER SELLING ONE.

In Singapore, this is one of the most popular ways to avoid paying ABSD. You may then go buy one feature apiece for yourself and your spouse if you sell one of your houses.

Let’s use one more illustration:

Assume you receive $600k for the sale of your six-bedroom apartment. You now provide a $375,000 down payment on a condo that costs $1.5 million. You go by your given name during the entire process.

After that, your husband chooses a smaller condo, perhaps one for $800,000. She contributes $200,000 toward the down payment. She uses her original ID identity when she buys this property.

You and your spouse will not be liable for any ABSD since at the time of acquisition, none of you owned any property.

5. THOUGHTFULLY BUY A DUAL-KEY UNIT

In essence, a dual-key unit consists of a single common foyer that divides into two independent sub-units.

This makes it possible for two different families to live together in the same area, such as your family and your in-laws or a landlord and renter.

You wouldn’t have to worry about paying any ABSD here because this dual-key apartment would be seen as a single property.

6. OBTAIN A BUSINESS Property

Regarding commercial properties, there is no ABSD. However, there is a Goods and Services Tax (GST), which stands at 7% as of this writing.

Therefore, think about investing in a coffee shop or an industrial space, etc., instead of buying a second condo. But since commercial real estate differs greatly from residential property, be careful to complete your study.

7. EACH UNDER ONE PROPERTY

And lastly, the easiest strategy for aspirational couples: simply assign one spouse to the first house.

Think about being the only owner and payer of the entire property if you think you can manage it. When you have enough saved up later, your spouse can go and purchase another house.

You would never have to pay the ABSD as you will have two properties in the family. Although it might take some time, this is one of the easiest approaches available.

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