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  • Disposing of shares

    There are several ways you can dispose of shares, including selling them and giving them away as gifts. When you dispose of your shares, you are likely to make a capital gain or loss. It's important you keep records of obtaining and disposing of shares.

    On this page:

    How do I dispose of shares?

    You can dispose of your shares in the following ways:

    • selling them
    • giving them away (gifting shares)
    • transferring them to a spouse as the result of a breakdown in your marriage or relationship
    • through share buy-backs
    • through mergers, takeovers and demergers
    • because the company goes into liquidation.

    Capital gains and losses when disposing of shares

    You are likely to make either a capital gain or capital loss when you dispose of your shares. You must report a capital gain or capital loss in the tax return for the income year you dispose of the shares.

    You make a capital gain when your capital proceeds are more than your cost base (costs of ownership). Your capital proceeds are either:

    • the money you receive when you sell your shares
    • the value of the shares when you gift your shares.

    You may be able to reduce your capital gain if you either:

    • owned your shares for at least 12 months
    • gifted them to a deductible gift recipient, provided
      • they are valued at less than $5,000, and
      • you acquired them at least 12 months earlier.
       

    If the capital proceeds are less than the cost base, you will need to work out the reduced cost base first. Then, if the reduced cost base is:

    • more than the capital proceeds, the difference is a capital loss
    • less than the capital proceeds, there is neither a capital gain nor a capital loss.

    You also make a capital loss on your shareholding when an administrator or liquidator makes a written declaration that a company's shares are worthless. You are entitled to reduce your capital gains by capital losses.

    See also:

    Shares you received as a gift

    If you dispose of shares you received as a gift, you must use the shares' market value on the day that you received them as the first element of your cost base when working out your capital gain or loss.

    Shares you give as a gift

    If you give shares away as a gift, treat the shares as if you disposed of them at their market value on the day you gave this gift. This means a capital gains tax event occurs and you must include any capital gain or loss in your tax return for the income year you gave away the shares.

    Example – gifting shares

    On 4 January 2021, Mark bought shares at a cost of $45,000, including brokerage.

    On 18 June 2021, Mark gifts all of these shares to his wife. The shares have a market value of $50,000 on 18 June 2021.

    Since this gift is a capital gains tax event, Mark needs to calculate his capital gain or capital loss for the 2020–21 income year. He must use $45,000 as the cost base of the shares and $50,000 (the market value of the shares on the day he gifted them) as the capital proceeds. Therefore, Mark makes a capital gain of $5,000. Since he did not own these shares for at least 12 months, he doesn't qualify for a capital gains tax discount of 50%. That is, Mark cannot reduce his capital gain of $5,000 by $2,500.

    As he has no other CGT event, and no capital losses (in, or carried forward to, 2020–21), Mark enters the following at item 18 of the supplementary section of his 2021 tax return for individuals:

    $5,000 at H (Total current year capital gains), and

    $5,000 at A (Net capital gain). This means $5,000 of net capital gain gets added to his assessable income.

    However, if Mark had owned the shares for at least 12 months before gifting them, he would have been allowed (to his advantage) to reduce his capital gain by 50%. Therefore, he would have entered the following at item 18 of the supplementary section of his 2021 tax return for individuals:

    $5,000 at H (Total current year capital gains), and

    $2,500 at A (Net capital gain). This means $2,500 of net capital gain gets added to his assessable income.

    End of example

    See also:

    Bonus shares

    If you dispose of bonus shares you received on or after 20 September 1985, you may:

    • make a capital gain
    • have to modify your existing shares' cost base and reduced cost base in the company.
    Last modified: 01 Jul 2021QC 22813