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Developed real estate – New guideline on the apportionment of the purchase price

When purchasing a rental property, it is generally advantageous for landlords if the local tax office allocates as high a share of the purchase price as possible to the building because only this portion of the costs is factored into the assessment basis used to calculate the depreciation for the building. In contrast to this, the share of the total purchase price that is apportioned to land with an indefinite useful life may not be depreciated and, thus, not have the effect of reducing the tax liability.

In this context, on 1.5.2021, in response to a Federal Fiscal court ruling, the Federal Ministry of Finance published an updated guideline on the apportionment of the purchase price in the case of developed real estate. The situation that gave rise to this publication was that the previous guideline did not reflect actual property values and did not take into account factors related to location and regionalisation. The new apportionment of the purchase price frequently results in a more favourable and higher building value for the landlord. Although, in cases where lower building values were recognised in the past, these can no longer be adjusted for assessment years where the notices are already final and unappealable. However, in tax assessment cases that are open, the new apportionment of the purchase price may be used as a basis and may also create new depreciation potential for future assessments.

Please note: The fiscal authority would generally recognise a verifiable apportionment of the purchase price that is made in a purchase agreement if it is not illusory and does not constitute an abusive tax scheme. With the new guideline it will be possible to refute suggestions that an agreement appears to be a sham or that a particular arrangement is seemingly abusive.

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