Property ownership and taxes: great Australian landmines


Thomas Aitkenhead, Director at Hoffman Kelly Chartered Accountants is a fan of spending time with his 8-month-old daughter, watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race and playing tennis. In that order.

He is also a Registered Tax Agent, an expert in the property development and real estate industries and a long-time attendee of The Tax Institute’s events.

“I have always attended TTI seminars and retreats since I commenced my career as I have always found the technical content to be outstanding,” he said, when discussing his upcoming presentation at our 2021 Private Business Tax Retreat.

Thomas will be presenting a session titled Dodging the property ownership landmines on Day 2 of the rigorous Retreat program.

“[Property ownership and tax] is interesting because there are so many issues to consider and they are each very complex and can often be a trade-off,” he said.

“The value of the transactions is high, so mistakes can be very costly. Additionally, there is a huge amount of data matching by the ATO of these transactions meaning they have a high audit/review risk.”

The great Australian dream of owning property isn’t just made difficult by high property prices – there are also more tax landmines to navigate than ever before, both at a State and Federal level. From the perennial headache of the revenue versus capital distinction, to continual legislative change aimed solely at their landholdings, pertinent case law and draft ATO guidance, there’s plenty practitioners and property owners need to wrap their heads around.

Delving into some of the challenges facing practitioners and strategies to address them, Thomas’ session is hugely relevant for Australian tax practitioners and their clients today.

“The topic of ‘Dodging the property ownership landmines’ is vast,” Thomas said. “Our firm has always had many clients who are property investors and many who are also developers. It involves so many different areas that require consideration.”

Those areas include both Federal taxes, such as income tax, capital gains tax and GST, State taxes like duty, land tax, additional foreign duty and additional foreign land tax. Other tricky areas are asset protection issues (“Property transactions can be risky – protect outside assets from the property deal. Property can be valuable – protect the property from outside risks,” Thomas explained) and succession.

The core takeaway of the session, he says, is that, “Property issues are constantly changing across all areas and constant technical training is required to keep on top if it all.”

“Australians love property and hate paying taxes. There will always be plenty of change and plenty of work in this space.”


Session details

Session: Session 10 – Dodging the property ownership landmines

Presenter: Thomas Aitkenhead

When: 11:15am –12:15pm, Friday, 26 February 2021 (Day 2)

What to expect: Catch Thomas at the 2021 Private Business Tax Retreat to delve into strategies to safely manage risk areas in property ownership including:

  • Subdividing, ‘flipping’, mere realisation, change of purpose
  • Revenue v capital dichotomy
  • The recently enacted vacant land changes that deny deductions for holding costs
  • The recently enacted main residence exemption changes affecting non-residents
  • Recent developments impacting on the active asset test in the small business CGT concessions


About the 2021 Private Business Tax Retreat

Celebrating it’s 10th anniversary this year, the Private Business Tax Retreat is an intensive event focused on providing senior private client advisers with an opportunity to immerse themselves in contemporary tax issues that directly affect their clients. Offered as both an online and face-to-face experience, the expert driven program attracts delegates from around the country.

When: 25 February 2021– 26 February 2021

Where: Attend virtually from the comfort of your own home or join us at Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast. Located at Main Beach, this outstanding venue is a one-hour drive south of Brisbane, or a 40-minute drive north of Gold Coast Airport. Special room rates are available through our travel provider, Accommodation Link.


About Thomas Aitkenhead


Thomas Aitkenhead is a director of Hoffman Kelly Chartered Accountants having joined the firm in 2003.

He advises broadly on business structuring and has extensive experience in the property development and real estate industries as well as the legal profession. Thomas is an accredited self-managed superannuation fund specialist advisor, and a registered self-managed superannuation fund auditor.



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