Transfer property without paying stamp duty

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Understanding Stamp Duty

Stamp duty is a tax imposed on various legal documents, including those involved in property transfers.

Understanding stamp duty exemptions is paramount, as they offer avenues to save substantial amounts of money. These exemptions, intricately outlined within

the legal framework, provide relief in specific circumstances, such as first-time home purchases or transfers between family members.Whether you’re a first-time buyer navigating the complexities of stamp duty or a seasoned investor seeking to optimize tax savings, our blog serves as a comprehensive guide to help you understand the nuances of this crucial aspect of property transfers and transactions.

Legal Methods to Transfer Property Without Paying Stamp Duty

There are some exemptions and concessions to paying transfer duty:

  • Transfers between married couples and de facto partners.
  • Foreign transferees.
  • Family home used for other purposes.
  • Marriage, de facto or domestic relationship break-ups.

Transfers Between Spouses/De Facto Partners

There is no transfer duty applicable when residential land is transferred between either married couples or de facto partners, provided that the property being transferred is either:

  • The primary residence, commonly known as the family home.
  • Vacant land, designated for future use as the site of the family home.

As a result of the transfer, the property must be held equally by both partners. De facto couples must be living together for at least two years before applying for this exemption.

Adding or Removing Someone from Title

You can receive exemptions when the person you are adding or removing is a spouse or de facto partner. These exemptions also apply for separations.

Gifting Property and Potential Stamp Duty Implications

Should there be an existing home loan on the property that is to be transferred, you will need to undergo the loan approval process, adding a layer of complexity to the transaction. There are a variety of legal requirements and tax consequences that make engaging the expertise of a mortgage broker and solicitor or conveyancer essential. They can provide invaluable legal guidance on effectively navigating the intricacies involved in gifting a property with an outstanding loan.

Legal Risks

Failure to adhere to legal procedures and regulations in property transactions can lead to various complications, including financial losses, contractual disputes, and even legal action. 

Consulting legal experts like Owen Hodge Lawyers is paramount. Our expert property lawyers can help navigate the complexities of property law, mitigate risks, and ensure transactions are conducted in full compliance with the law, safeguarding your interests and minimising potential liabilities.

Minimising Stamp Duty Costs

Strategies for minimising stamp duty payments legally include:

Property devaluation

  • The reduction in property value can lead to decreased transfer duty. This duty is calculated based on the value of both the land and building at the time of the sale contract. In scenarios where construction has not commenced, such as off-the-plan properties, the dutiable value may be lower compared to a fully completed building.

Capital Gains Tax and Land Tax

  • For investment properties, capital gains tax may be applicable upon selling the property for a price higher than its acquisition cost. However, holding the asset for more than a year may entitle you to a 50% discount on the profit for tax purposes. 

Notably, capital gains tax exemptions are typically applicable to primary residences. Moreover, in New South Wales (NSW), land tax is not levied on primary residences but is applicable to investment properties.

Off-the-Plan Property Purchases

If you’re purchasing off the plan and meet the eligibility criteria, you won’t need to pay transfer duty until 15 months after entering the agreement to buy or transfer a property or, if the contract is finalised within this timeframe, upon completion or handover of the property.

Property Held in Trust

Depending on individual circumstances, implementing an asset protection strategy involving a family trust, fixed trust, or unit trust can be crucial for safeguarding investment properties and estates, while also potentially enabling access to a transfer duty exemption or concession when transferring assets to beneficiaries. The Duties Act 2000, outlines the following general requirements:

  • Duty, if applicable, must have been paid when the property first became subject to the trust.
  • The transferee must have been a beneficiary of the trust at the time the property was acquired and became an asset of the trust (i.e., the relevant time).
  • There must be no consideration for the transfer, and the transfer of property from trustee to beneficiary must not be part of a sale or other transaction.

This exemption is applicable for subdivided or consolidated property. Any property derived from a subdivision or consolidation of titles is considered part of the same dutiable property that initially became subject to the trust.

Farm Property Transfers

If the taxpayer is aged 55 or above, has owned the farm for a minimum of 15 years, and actively farmed it for at least 7.5 years, they are exempt from paying CGT on any profit made from its sale.


Neglecting to follow legal procedures and regulations in property transactions can result in numerous complications such as financial setbacks, contract disputes, and potential legal consequences. 

Hence, seeking guidance from legal professionals like Owen Hodge Lawyers becomes essential. Our proficiency can assist in navigating the intricacies of property law, reducing risks, and guaranteeing that transactions adhere to legal requirements, thereby protecting your interests and minimizing liabilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Seeking professional advice can ensure that you are complying with all relevant laws and regulations of stamp duty in property transactions.

Even if you have an exemption, there are some situations where you will still have to pay stamp duty, but at a concession rate.

If you receive a property through a will, you’ll only need to pay a reduced rate of stamp duty. However, if you’ve inherited the property as a co-owner and decide to sell your portion to other owners, you’ll be liable to pay stamp duty on your share of the property.

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