Real estate transfer tax – how to save?

Who buys a plot of land, a house or an apartment, pays for it a special kind of sales tax: land transfer tax. It must be paid to the tax office immediately after conclusion of the purchase contract; payment is a prerequisite for the buyer's entry in the land register. Since 2006, the amount of the real estate transfer tax has been determined by the federal states, which have discovered the purchase of real estate, the Germans' favorite form of old-age security, as a source of income and have increased the previously uniform federal tax rate of 3.5%, in some cases substantially.
Real estate transfer tax is payable in principle on every real estate acquisition transaction. This includes z.B. also land exchange, acquisition of land by way of compulsory auction, the granting of hereditary building rights etc. Not subject to tax is an acquisition of real estate z.B., if the equivalent value of the land 2.500 Euro or less, in the case of the sale of real estate by inheritance or gift (in this case, however, gift or donation taxes are not applicable). Inheritance tax), or in the case of transfers within the family (transfer to a spouse or partner in the event of separation, or transfer between relatives 1. degrees, i.e. children or parents).

The basis for calculating the real estate transfer tax is the value of the consideration, i.e. regularly the purchase price recorded in the purchase contract. This is not indisputable in every case. An obligation on the part of the buyer to pay for the development costs of an undeveloped plot of land does not count as consideration in any case and is therefore not subject to land transfer tax.

In the case of a land purchase with house construction, you can save real estate transfer tax if you strictly separate the two contracts, the purchase of the land and the construction of the house. Then one pays only for the acquisition of the property. This is not a problem if the land is bought first, and then the builders separately look for construction companies and craftsmen to build the house. In the case of turnkey houses, on the other hand, where the builder buys the land and the house from a single source, the tax authorities assume a single contract and calculate land transfer tax from both transactions: Land purchase and house construction. Building owners must prove that there is no temporal, personal or substantive connection between the two contracts; even the mediation of both contracts by the same broker is sufficient for the tax office to assume a related contract.

When purchasing existing real estate, the tax amount can be reduced if the accessories sold with the property are listed separately in the purchase contract. Accessories are items that are not permanently attached to the property and can be separated from it without losing their utility value. What counts as an accessory has not always been judged uniformly. Built-in bathtubs, showers, central heating, antennas, but also greenhouses and prefabricated garages, etc. belong to the property in any case. Furniture, building materials, bathroom and kitchen furniture, if they can be removed without being broken, heating supplies (wood, oil, coal), awnings, etc., are included in the purchase price. belong to the accessories. If such jointly sold movable objects are quantified in the purchase contract and shown separately, they are not subject to real estate transfer tax. However, one should remain grounded in reality here, as the tax office checks every real estate purchase contract. Accepted is i.d.R. accessories up to about 15% of the purchase price or ca. 50.000 euros. In principle, in the event of a dispute, it is up to the tax authorities to prove that the sold items do not have the assumed value. Buyers should also keep in mind that the value of the property decreases the larger the share of the accessories in the purchase price. This can have an impact on the mortgage lending value of the property, i.e. the collateral to be provided when financing the purchase price. In the worst case, savings in land transfer tax are compensated by worse loan conditions.

If the buyer of a used apartment redeems the maintenance reserve, which the seller had already paid, this amount is also exempt from real estate transfer tax. This is particularly interesting if the home is owner-occupied. If it is rented out, the maintenance reserve reduces the depreciation volume, it can therefore not be deducted from the advertising costs. Again, this breakdown of the purchase price must be stipulated in the purchase agreement.