Will we be taxed if partner sells home to buy share of mine?

Key issue: there should be no capital gains tax due on the sale of a principal private residence

Key issue: there should be no capital gains tax due on the sale of a principal private residence


Both myself and my partner own a mortgage-free, similar value family home each and we are planning to cohabit in my home.

She would sell her home and purchase a half interest in my home.

Are there any tax implications for either of us in doing this?

Mr P.McD, Kildare

There are two separate transactions here.

First up, you and/or your partner are looking to sell her home.

As it is a family home – or, in the words of the legislation, a principal private residence – there should be no capital gains tax due on its sale.

The one thing you would both need to be sure about is whether anyone else – a former partner, or spouse, if any – might have a say in the disposal of the property.

As to the second element, there is provision in the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act of 2010 for your situation.

It describes a “shared home” as one where civil partners “ordinarily reside”, which seems to cover your proposed arrangement.

Where such a home is held in the name of one of the civil partners – ie you in this case – it is possible to transfer the property into a “joint tenancy” in both your names without facing any stamp duty or other registry fee, so you would again not have any tax issues.

It is important for you both to understand the nature of joint tenancy.

This means that the property is owned by you both with the intention that when one of you dies, the other automatically owns the whole property.

The alternative, tenancy in common, means you each own a portion of the home – it doesn’t even have to be 50/50 – and each gets to bequeath and/or sell their portion independent of the other “tenant in common”.

This is useful, for instance, when friends are buying a property together but wish to retain control over their share but it can be tricky in the case of cohabiting couples as it means one party could look to sell their share without any reference to or agreement from the other partner.

In either case, in relation to your own home, you will also need to be sure that no one else has an existing claim on it or any part of it before entering a new arrangement.

While there do not appear to be any tax implications in your proposed move, I would suggest that you both take the time to get straightforward legal advice to be sure you understand exactly the legal implications on any proposed property ownership.

It does not necessarily have to cost much at all but will ensure you both understand the parameters of your new situation.

Tax relief for son studying abroad My son who is abroad at the moment is planning to return to London to study for a masters degrees – fees approximately €12,000. I am prepared to help with or pay some. Would I be entitled to tax relief?

Ms M.F., Longford You should be. Tax relief is available to Irish taxpayers on some third-level tuition costs across the European Union, not just in Ireland.

The institution your son attends must be a “publicly funded or duly accredited universities or institution of higher education”, which is almost certainly will be. Beyond that, the course itself will need to be between one and four academic years’ duration and lead to a postgraduate “award”, such as a masters degree, either by way of thesis or exam.

How much can you get?

Well, as an Irish taxpayer, you are entitled to relief of 20 per cent of the tuition costs paid, up to a maximum of €7,000 in any one year. However, there is also a “discarded” amount, which is currently €2,500 per annual claim.

So, if your son is paying fees equivalent to €12,000, you can claim for fees of €7,000 minus the €2,500 discard. That means, effectively, you are getting relief of 20 per cent of €4,500, which equates to €900.

Of course, you can claim only for fees, or the part of fees that you have actually paid on your son’s behalf. You can claim the relief either by way of your annual return or by filling out tax for IT31 from your local tax office.

It is important to remember that you can claim only for tuition fees – not administration charges, registration fees or examination charges. Also, if any of the tuition fees are being refunded or paid by way of a grant, a scholarship or by an employer, they are not eligible for relief.

Like other tax reliefs, you will need to apply for the relief within four years of the year in which the costs are incurred. Send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara St, D2, or email dcoyle@irishtimes.com. This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

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