The margin scheme is a way of working out the GST you must pay when you sell property as part of your business. The amount of GST normally paid on a property sale is equal to one-eleventh of the total sale price. If the margin scheme is used, the GST is calculated on the difference between the sale price and your purchase price of the property or the property’s value. You can only apply the margin scheme if the sale of the property is taxable.
When purchasing a new residential property with the margin scheme being apart of the property transaction, withhold 7% of the contract price, including GST and the market value of non-monetary consideration. This amount will then be paid to the ATO at settlement. The margin scheme is not an automatic concession and the sale must be eligible for it to be applied.
The margin scheme can be applied to subsequent property sales depending on the original date of purchase and how GST was applied at that time. Property purchases prior to 1 July 2000 are eligible, as the property had not been subject to GST previously. For property purchases after 1 July 2000, the margin scheme may only apply to a subsequent sale when:
- The original seller of the property wasn’t registered for GST.
- The property was purchased as an existing residential premises.
- The original seller sold the property as a GST-free supply and was eligible to use the margin scheme, or;
- The seller sold the property and applied the margin scheme at that time.
There are limitations to the margin scheme in some situations such as; inheritances, the supplier being a member of a GST group or the property is GST-free (going concern or farmland). In these situations, if the supplier wasn’t eligible to use the margin scheme, the scheme cannot be used when selling the property.