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May 27, 2017

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Owners of gift properties warned over taxation risks upon reselling

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The number of properties that have changed hands as gifts has registered a sharp rise since the gift tax was lowered in 2009, but housing market analysts have warned about taxation risks when reselling these units.

A total of 51,700 real estate items saw ownership changes after being transferred as gifts in 2013, setting a 22-year high, according to figures from the Interior Ministry.

Since 2009 when the gift and inheritance taxes were both lowered to 10 percent, the accumulated number of such property ownership changes has hit 231,000 cases, the figures show.

The tax reductions have provided incentives for investors to increase their investments in the local property market.

Tseng Ching-teh, a housing market analyst, noted that transferring properties as gifts was an effective form of reducing one's tax burdens, according to the Central News Agency.

He explained that the 10-percent gift tax is based on the government-assessed value, which is usually much lower than the property's market value.

But the discrepancy may now pose a problem when the owner resells the gift, Tseng said. All property transactions must have their actual transaction prices reported to the government because of a rule change implemented last year, he added.

The actual transaction prices would be much higher than the value assessed by the government when the properties were transferred as gifts, meaning resellers of the gifts would have to pay large sums of income taxes for the huge gains.

The taxation authorities are eager to monitor resellers of such gifts to see if they report their transactions honestly, the analyst said.

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