Property Tax Break: Company/Trust Structures Come In From The Cold

 

When selling your home held in the name of a company, close corporation or trust, remember that you could save a huge amount of tax if you are able to transfer it first into your own (or your spouse’s) personal name.

 

The Bad News (until now) has been that you were excluded from the tax break if your holding structure was a “multi-tier” one, such as a company holding the property, with a trust in turn holding the shares in the company –

 

 

                                           Erf 111 Blikkiesfontein (“Home Sweet Home”)

                                                                        |

                                                    Registered owner of Erf 111 being

                                                     Erf 111 Blikkiesfontein (Pty) Ltd

                                                                        |

                                                        Company’s shares held by

                                                          The Bloggs Family Trust

 

The Good News is that amendments to the original tax break legislation, just promulgated, seem to have opened the door for the first time to this type of structure.  

 

There are limits and restrictions, and still some grey areas around procedure. And in some cases it may still be advantageous to your overall financial and estate planning to retain your current structure. But you have a golden opportunity for substantial saving here – take proper advice before deciding either way.

 

 

Speeding – License Suspension Automatic

 

In terms of amending legislation just brought into effect, your driver’s license will be suspended if you are convicted of exceeding the speed limit: – 

  • By more than 30 km/h “in an urban area”, or 
  • By more than 40 km/h “outside an urban area or on a freeway”. 

The length of suspension will depend on whether you are a first offender or not. The minimum suspension periods are: – 

1.     6 months on a first offence, 

2.     5 years on a second offence, 

3.     10 years on a third or subsequent offence. 

Note that the court has no discretion to waive suspension or reduce the minimum suspension period unless it is satisfied that there are circumstances “which do not justify” doing so. 

 

Critically, these circumstances (which must be attested to on oath) must relate to the offence – this is a new requirement, and will mean that your personal circumstances (e.g. reliance on a driver’s license for your employment) can no longer be taken into account. 

 

If you are accused of speeding over the above limits, take advice before admitting anything!

 

 

RICA Cut-Off Breather – Don’t Delay, Act Now!

 

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow” (Mark Twain)

 

Don’t listen to Mark Twain! 

 

If you haven’t yet registered your SIM card/s in terms of RICA (the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act), get moving now.

 

The December deadline (31 December 2010) has been extended to 30 June 2011 (per recently promulgated legislation). But don’t leave it to the last moment – if you forget to comply, you will be disconnected! 

 

“Procrastinate Now and Panic Later” – or get your ID and proof of residence to your service provider today.

 

 

Bye Bye Sweet Sea View, I Think I’m Gonna Cry……

 

When your enjoyment of your property (and its value) is closely linked to having a panoramic view, how does our law balance your rights with those of your neighbours if and when conflict arises? 

 

Can either of you build (or extend) your house in such a way as to block the other’s view?

 

A recent Constitutional Court judgment (dealing a death blow to a home owner’s five-year attempt to preserve his sea view from obstruction by a neighbour), confirms that it is a case of “buyer beware” when you originally buy your property. 

 

When deciding whether to buy a property – and what value to place on it – you must take into account all “legal restrictions” applying to neighbouring properties, such as town planning, zoning and building restrictions, title deed conditions etc. And you must discount the risk that a neighbour could in the future decide to exercise these rights to the full.

 

Thus, although a local authority in reviewing building plans must consider (amongst other things) whether the proposed building “will probably or in fact derogate from the value of adjoining or neighbouring properties”, the Court held that there is no “derogation of value” unless either: – 

1.     “…… the subject property contravenes the restrictions imposed by law; or 

2.     “…… the new building, though in accordance with legally imposed restrictions, is, for example, so unattractive or intrusive that it exceeds the legitimate expectations of the parties to the hypothetical sale”.    

In a nutshell, there is no general principle in our law entitling anyone to a particular view, and you cannot complain if losing it was foreseeable when you bought. 

 

The moral of the story – do your homework properly before you buy property, or live with the consequences.