Foreign Property owners should always remember to keep their paperwork safe
Thailand does not follow the same capital gains rules for property that some other countries use.
If we make a comparison with, say England, the main consideration that people need to consider in England when selling a property is capital gains tax. In England, there is no capital gains tax on a persons primary residence, but if an individual has more than one property, then they will be subject to capital gains tax on these other properties. The amount of tax is calculated on the amount of gain (difference between purchase price and sales price), less a factor for inflation calculated on the number of years of ownership.
In Thailand there is no primary residence rule so everyone has to pay tax when selling, but not capital gains tax. There are 3 main taxes that need to be paid when ownership of a property is transferred at the Land Department. The first is the transfer fee, which is a flat 2% of the Land Departments’ appraisal value of the property.
The second is called either business tax or stamp duty, and is a flat rate of either 3.3% or 0.5% of the declared sales price depending on whether the owner has owned the property for more or less than 5 years. The 3.3% rate applies for ownership less than five years this is referred to as business tax.
The third tax is a withholding tax and is a more complicated calculation based on bandwidths and years of ownership. It generally increases as length of ownership increases.
People who are selling their property within 5 years of ownership are subject to the higher 3.3% business tax. This is a considerable amount to factor into the equation. If you are selling your property for 10,000,000 Baht then this tax alone will set you back 330,000 Baht.
People are of course always looking to minimize their exposure to tax, and so some sellers will consider the total sales price as two parts one part for the unit itself, and another part for the furniture, fittings and design.
Using the example above, if the seller agreed with the buyer that the sales price for the unit is 6,000,000 Baht, and the cost of the furniture, fittings etc included in the sale were equal to 4,000,000 Baht, then surely the price that needs to be declared at the Land Department for the sale of the unit is just 6,000,000 Baht. The business tax on this amount would equal (6,000,000 x 3.3%) 198,000 Baht. The seller has therefore just saved 132,000 Baht.
However, very strict rules have been put in place regarding foreign remittance. Should the seller go to the bank to transfer the 10,000,000 Baht back to his home country, then the bank will be very vary of doing this. After all, they only have evidence from the Land Department that the sale was for 6,000,000 Baht.
I recently met an individual who did just this, and experienced this very same problem with remitting his money back to his home country. The ironic thing with this case, was that the man was suffering from a life threatening heart condition and needed the money back in his home country to help pay for treatment.
Although this was true, the bank didn’t know if this was an old wives tale or not and irrespective of the man’s health were not budging. However, the individual concerned did transfer the full amount (in the example about 10,000,000 Baht) from his home country to Thailand 3 years ago to buy the property, and still had the foreign exchange certificates to prove this. Hence, please fully consider your actions, get proper legal advice, and always keep your paperwork safe!