Understanding the Small Business CGT 15-Year Exemption


Have you ever found yourself drowning in the depths of tax legislation, specifically when it comes to the Capital Gains Tax (CGT)? For many small business owners like you, this intricate part of the tax world can seem like a maze filled with uncertainty and doubt. Perhaps you’re questioning what exemptions apply to your business or are unclear about how to optimise your tax position. This article aims to shed light on the 15-year exemption for small business CGT. Stick around, and you might find that your best next step is to consult an expert who can delve deeper into your specific circumstances.

Understanding the Basics 

Capital Gains Tax, commonly referred to as CGT, is the tax you pay on the profit made from the sale of a capital asset, such as property, shares or a business. For small businesses, navigating CGT on the sale of a business can be daunting, especially with the many regulations set out by the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

Now, imagine if there were opportunities for your business to be exempted from this tax. That’s precisely where the 15-year exemption for small business CGT comes into play. This provision was designed to give long-standing small businesses a break when they sell their assets after a long period.

Criteria for the 15-Year Exemption

To qualify for the 15-year exemption, a series of criteria must be met:

  1. The asset must have been owned for at least 15 continuous years.
  2. You must be an Australian resident, 55 years old or older, and in connection with retirement.
  3. The asset must be an active asset for at least 7.5 of those years.

It’s essential to understand the nuances of each criterion. For example, the “active asset” stipulation means the asset must be actively used in the business operation and not just held for speculative purposes. This is a complex 

Benefits of the Exemption

Apart from the obvious benefit of not paying CGT, the 15-year exemption can provide other financial advantages:

  • It can be used to contribute to your superannuation, which could enhance your retirement nest egg.
  • It gives long-standing businesses an incentive to re-invest in new ventures or assets.

Next Steps

So, how can Impala Tax assist you further? Our dedicated team can provide clarity around your eligibility for the 15-year exemption or offer guidance on other tax-related concerns. We’re here to alleviate the stress of navigating the financial maze. Don’t hesitate – book an appointment online or call us at 0755361960.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can my business qualify if it hasn’t operated for the entire 15 years? While the asset needs to be owned for 15 years, it doesn’t need to be active for the entire duration. It should be active for at least 7.5 years during the ownership period.
  2. Does this exemption apply if the asset is sold due to unforeseen circumstances before retirement? There are certain scenarios where the ATO may consider providing the exemption, especially in cases of disability or terminal illness. It’s crucial to consult with a tax expert to understand your unique situation better.
  3. Can I use this exemption multiple times? You can use the 15-year exemption on various assets, but meeting the eligibility criteria is essential each time. Additionally, there are caps on the total amounts you can contribute to superannuation using this exemption.


The 15-year exemption for small business CGT can provide significant relief for long-standing businesses in Australia. Business owners can make informed decisions about their assets by understanding this provision and its benefits. Remember, every business’s situation is unique, and what applies to one may not apply to another. Therefore, seeking expert guidance can be invaluable in ensuring you make the most of such exemptions. We’re here to guide you every step of the way.

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