Are Taxes Higher for Heritage Homes in Australia?

Are Taxes Higher for Heritage Homes in Australia? Manish Khanna
Manish Khanna
Friday 10 Aug 2018

The adage ‘old is gold’ is apt for heritage homes which have been a beautiful embellishment for the housing sector in Australia for the longest time. A sight to behold, these period houses exude a unique Victorian elegance which is hard to miss even from afar. Heritage homes boast of a natural, indigenous or historic value to the country. Unsurprisingly, they are in high-demand currently and are valued as luxury properties because of their beauty, large spaces, and an exquisite old world charm.

Lavishly built several years ago, these abodes form an integral part of every investor’s wish-list aiming to purchase the luxury real estate for sale in Australia.  The most intriguing part of these heritage properties is their rich legacy which can be passed on to the coming generations if the foundation is still strong and the property is well-maintained. Various inner suburbs of metropolitan cities are home to such palatial residences that have stood the test of time.

The conservation of ancient houses came into limelight during the 1970s when a lot of redevelopment threatened to obliterate the cultural roots of the country. The prevalent feeling gathered momentum in Sydney where many old houses were replaced with new apartment buildings. The government took note of the sentiments of the locals and stressed on preserving historically significant architecture in places like Woolloomooloo, The Rocks, Kings Cross, Kelly’s Bush, Glebe and more.

Importance of Heritage Properties  

The character features of these charismatic spaces include high ceilings, timber floorings, expansive halls, and stairways that beckon seasoned investors who understand the worth of such architectural gems. The only limitation with these properties is that some of these are in dilapidated condition because of neglect from owners in rural areas. Additionally, many get demolished for redevelopment in urban areas. Others remain hidden in the countryside and never catch the eyes of the luxury homebuyers. However, the suburban regions have preserved their stately mansions, and with the rising population in the urban areas, many tranquillity seekers are now moving to the inner suburbs. Once bought, they are not easy to maintain and renovate, but their prices are only showing an upward trend in the near future with very few of these structures left behind. Besides, these standard apprehensions, the buyers are also concerned about the taxes. A pertinent question that hovers in the minds of people is whether they would have to pay higher taxes for heritage homes. Let us make things clear for you in this article.

Taxation on Heritage Listed Property

There are over 100,000 properties in Australia which come under the heritage-listed category.  Heritage-listing can be of various types, for examples properties can be marked under the local government Municipal Inventories, State Registrar of Heritage Places and heritage lists. Different listings will have different requirements related to repair and renovation and insurance cover. When it comes to paying taxes, lawyers specialising in tax confirm that heritage properties are exempted from state-based land tax if the owner is residing in the house. Although the house may have a cultural significance, it would not affect the tax procedure as long as the owner is living in it. Additionally, they don’t have to pay Capital Gains Tax during the sale. However, income taxes are to be paid on rentals irrespective of the fact whether the property is heritage or not. When renting out the property, the owner has to declare the income and claim the rental expenditure. If the owner decides to donate the house to an organisation which is a part of the National Trust Network and the Trust accepts it for the good of the public, then the owner can claim a deduction.

Claiming a Deduction

The amount that can be claimed as a deduction is the average of two or more valuations which are done by evaluators who are approved by the Arts Secretary. There are some differences in this deduction depending on the following criteria:

  • The property was bought for the purpose of donation
  • It was purchased as per the arrangement that it would be donated
  • It was bought less than a year ago before donating it

If any of this stands true, then the valuation of the property is lesser than the amount paid for the house or average of two or more written valuations.  

Private Costs

The only cost incurred by the owner is the maintenance of the property and the expenditure on development work which is aimed at preserving the structure. The land tax concessions can be obtained by the owner for deductions. The heritage site usually becomes a local glory for the surrounding community as it has a positive influence on the prices of the properties. Another limitation for the owner is that the right for renovation is restricted and needs to through an approval process from the government.

Historical Significance

The presence of an ancient piece of history in a community becomes a matter of pride for the entire region. They speak volumes about the rich cultural heritage of the geographical area and extend a fascinating appeal to the entire setting. The presence of such a house increases the potential of getting a higher value for the properties around the home. It is also a status symbol for some investors to own a heritage-listed site which they can brag about in their social circles. They are like trophies of national pride and olden times. The owner also gets one-off offsetting tax breaks to maintain the property. However, the concessions are not easily accessible and applicable to all owners. Nevertheless, the high-net-worth individuals who own these places are not worried about these expenses.


Period homes with an old character have an appeal which is hard to be replicated by the modern mansions. A true history lover and preserver would not mind buying an old property and maintaining it as a trophy home. The government tax deductions are an added advantage for the investors who seek to gain high returns from putting up their luxury real estate for sale in Australia. Just as the wine gets better with age, the heritage sites too gain higher significance with each passing year.