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RSM Australia: Selling your tourism or hospitality business and paying no tax

When selling your business there are a number of key areas that should be addressed in order to get the best outcome for you.

The structure of your business

It’s always important to look at the structure of your business, from the moment you set up to the moment you exit. Structures vary from trading as an individual, a partnership, trusts and companies, and each comes with a different set of complexities.

Small business capital gains tax (CGT) exemptions

There are small business CGT exemptions available to you when selling a business.

A general discount:

A capital gain is calculated by deducting the costs of acquiring and holding the asset consideration received on the disposal of the asset. This is referred to as the gross capital gain. This capital gain can generally be discounted by 50% if the asset has been held for at least 12 months. There are special rules in dealing with capital and revenue losses, however, companies are not able to access the general 50% discount.

Pre CGT assets:

If an asset was acquired Pre-CGT (September 20th, 1985), any capital gain or loss arising from its sale will be disregarded for the purposes of CGT events.

Small Business Capital Gains Tax (SBCGT) Concessions

There are four SBCGT Concessions to be aware of:

  1. 15-year exemption: If your business has owned an asset for 15 years, you are aged 55 years or over and are retiring, or if you are permanently incapacitated, then the assessable capital gain from the disposal of assets is reduced to nil when you sell the asset.
  2. 50% active asset reduction: You may reduce the capital gain on a business (active) asset by 50% if the asset is used in your business.
  3. Retirement exemption: A capital gain from the sale of a business asset will be exempt up to a lifetime limit of $500,000. If you are under 55 years of age, the exempt sum must be paid into a complying superannuation fund or a retirement savings account in order to obtain the exemption.
  4. Roll-over: Should you sell a small business asset, you may defer your capital gain until a later year. This means you don’t include the gain in your income until a change in circumstances causes a CGT event to happen that crystalizes the gain – for example, you don’t acquire a replacement asset within the required period, or you later sell that replacement asset or stop using it in your business. When a CGT event crystallizes, all or part of the gain you had previously deferred, becomes assessable.

 To qualify for any of the SBCGT Concessions, there are certain basic conditions that must be satisfied:

Step 1

Firstly, you must satisfy at least one of the following:

  1. the entity is a small business entity
  2. you satisfy the maximum net asset value test of $6,000,000, or
  3. you are a partner in a partnership that is a small business entity, and the CGT asset is an asset of the partnership.

The government announced further changes to the CGT small business concessions in the 2008 Budget. The changes allow access to the concessions by way of the $2 million turnover test for:

  • taxpayers who are not carrying on a business but who own a CGT asset used in the business of an affiliate or connected entity, and;
  • partners who own a CGT asset used in the partnership business.

Step 2

In addition to satisfying one of the basic conditions above, the asset must satisfy the Active Asset Test.

Step 3

This step only applies if the CGT asset is a share in a company or an interest in a trust. Should this be the case, one of these additional conditions must be satisfied just before the CGT event:

  1. you must be a CGT concession stakeholder in the company or trust; or
  2. the entity that owns the share or interest must satisfy the 90% test.

Am I a small business entity?

You will be a small business entity if you are an individual, partnership, company or trust that is carrying on a business and has less than $2 million aggregated turnover or less than $6 million of net assets.

Steps you should take when selling your tourism and hospitality business

You need to take into account the above scenarios to ensure that you can qualify for the CGT exemptions and pay the least amount of tax.

  1. Make sure that your business is performing well before considering a sale to get the maximum price for the business you have been running.
  2. Take note of the exemptions and that to qualify it may take a two-step process to reduce the capital gains tax payable. For example, sell part of the business in the previous year to get under the $2 million turnover.
  3. Sell assets in the previous year to ensure you are under the $6 million net asset value.
  4. Remember you only need to pass one of the tests to qualify.
  5. Check your age regarding the retirement exemption. If under 55 you will need to transfer the retirement exemption to a superfund. Also check if you have used any retirement exemptions in the past to ensure you qualify for the $500,000 exemption.


The small business CGT law exemptions can be complex, with different business structures eligible for different GGT exemptions and it is therefore important that you see your professional advisor and work with them in order to get the best tax outcome for you on the sale of your business.


Author: Trevor Lake, Director – Business Advisory, RSM Australia

Trevor Lake

Director – Business Advisory

RSM Australia

Shop 4/157 Bussell Highway Margaret River WA 6285

PO Box 142 Busselton WA 6280

DL: +61 (0) 8 9920 7400

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