• Having a different home from your spouse or dependent child

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    This information may not apply to the current year. Check the content carefully to ensure it is applicable to your circumstances.

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    If you and a dependent child have different homes at a particular time, you must choose one of the homes as the main residence for both of you for the period.

    If you and your spouse have different homes at a particular time, you and your spouse must either:

    • choose one of the homes as the main residence for both of you for the period, or
    • nominate the different homes as your main residences for the period.

    If you nominate different homes for the period and you own 50% or less of the home you have nominated, you qualify for an exemption for your share. If you own more than 50%, your share is exempt for half the period you and your spouse had different homes.

    The same applies to your spouse. If your spouse owns 50% or less of the home they have nominated, they qualify for an exemption for their share. However, if your spouse owns more than 50% of the home, their share is exempt for only half the period you had different homes.

    This rule applies if:

    Example
    Spouses with different main residences

    Under a contract that was settled on 1 July 1996, Kathy and her spouse Grahame purchased a townhouse where they lived together. Grahame owns 70% of the townhouse while Kathy owns the other 30%.

    Under a contract that was settled on 1 August 1998, they purchased a beach house which they own in equal shares. From 1 May 1999, Kathy lives in their beach house while Grahame keeps living in the townhouse. Grahame nominated the townhouse as his main residence and Kathy nominated the beach house.

    Kathy and Grahame sell the beach house under a contract that was settled on 15 April 2001. As it is Kathy's home and she owns 50% of it, her share of any capital gain or capital loss is disregarded for the period she and Grahame had different homes (1 May 1999-15 April 2001). As Grahame did not live in the beach house or nominate it as his main residence when he and Kathy had different homes, his share of any capital gain or capital loss is not ignored for any of the period he owned it.

    Grahame and Kathy also sell the townhouse under a contract that was settled on 15 April 2001. Because Grahame owns more than 50% of the townhouse, it is taken to have been his main residence for half of the period when he and Kathy had different homes.

    If the total capital gain on the sale of the townhouse is $10 000, Grahame's share of the capital gain is $7000 (reflecting his 70% ownership interest). The portion of the gain that Grahame disregards under the main residence exemption is:

    $7000 X

    1034 days

    (townhouse was Grahame's home and Kathy had a different home)

     

    1749 days

    (total ownership period)

     

    = $4138

     

    plus

    $7000 X 50% X

    715 days

    (when Grahame and Kathy had the different homes)

     

    1749 days

    (total ownership period)

     

    = $1431

     

    The total amount disregarded by Grahame is:

    $4 138 + $1 431 = $5 569

    As Grahame bought the townhouse before 11.45am on 21 September 1999 and entered into the contract to sell it after that time-and owned his share for at least 12 months-he can use either the indexation or the discount method to calculate his capital gain.

    Kathy's share of the $10 000 capital gain on the townhouse is $3000, reflecting her 30% ownership interest. The portion she disregards is:

    $3000 X

    1034 days

    (when the townhouse was Kathy's home)

     

    1749 days

    (total ownership period)

    (1034 days = period before 1 May 1999 and after 15 April 2001)

    As Kathy entered into the contract to buy the townhouse before 11.45am on 21 September 1999 and entered into the contract to sell it after that time-and owned her share for at least 12 months-she can use either the indexation or the discount method to calculate her capital gain.

    Example
    Different main residences

    Anna and her spouse Mark jointly purchased a townhouse under a contract that was settled on 5 February 1999 and both lived in it from that date until 29 April 2001, when the contract of sale was settled.

    Before 5 February 1999, Anna had lived alone in her own flat, which she rented out after moving to the townhouse. She then sold her flat and settled the sale on 11 March 2000. Anna chooses to treat the flat as her main residence from 5 February 1999 until she sold it under Continuing main residence status after dwelling ceases to be your main residence.

    Because of Anna's choice, Mark had a different main residence from Anna for the period from 5 February 1999 until 11 March 2000. Therefore, Mark must either:

    • treat Anna's flat as his main residence for that period, or
    • nominate the townhouse as his main residence for that period.
     

    If he chooses to treat Anna's flat as his main residence, a part of any gain Mark makes when he sells the townhouse will be taxable. He will not obtain an exemption for the townhouse for the period that he nominated Anna's flat as his main residence (that is, 5 February 1999-11 March 2000).

    If Mark nominates the townhouse as his main residence, he qualifies for a full exemption on any capital gain he makes when it is sold because he owned 50% or less of it. However, because Mark and Anna have different main residences as a result of Mark's choice, and Anna owns more than 50% of the flat, her gain on the flat will only qualify for a 50% exemption for the period from 5 February 1999 to 11 March 2000. Any capital gain Anna makes on the townhouse is taxable except for the period from 12 March 2000 to 29 April 2001 and the part that is ignored under the Moving from one main residence to another rule.

    Last modified: 31 Aug 2010QC 16195