Advantages and disadvantages of LAQC

Question from Peter updated on 5th May 2009:

My wife and I are about to build a new home and set up a company into which we'll transfer ownership of our existing home as our first investment property. Our investment strategy is a long-term one and we also plan to purchase additional investment properties. Since planning this strategy we've always assumed that we'd set up an LAQC as the first rental property will be negatively geared. We want to make sure that this is the right decision as opposed to establishing a trust. So far I have been unable to find a resource which summarizes the positives and negatives of each option so I can make an informed decision. Can you please help me out?

Our expert Mark Withers responded:

An LAQC allows tax losses to be attributed to its shareholders but offers no asset protection. A trust offers asset protection but is unable to distribute losses to its beneficiaries. I suspect your solution lies in a combination of the two entities. If you sold your existing home to an LAQC that borrowed the money to buy it you would in turn be able to lend your equity to a trust that would build your new home.

This way, any tax losses from the rental of your old home could be attributed to the companies shareholders but at the same time you could begin gifting into the trust that owns your new home to gain the asset protection advantages. Ie, the loss making rental property is in the LAQC for tax efficiency and your home is in trust for asset protection.

The fact that the LAQC shares are held personally and are outside the trust is probably of little consequence as the shares themselves are unlikely to have a value if the company has borrowed 100% of the purchase price of your old home. In this situation the companies net asset position is nil. My book, property tax in NZ, an investors guide contains alot more information on advantages and disadvantages of differing structures. Good luck with your build. 

Mark Withers and his team at Withers Tsang & Co specialise in advising on property related transactions, valuation and restructure services and tax planning.


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