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Do I Have to Pay Tax When I Sell My Business?
10 Things You Need to Know.

Do I Have to Pay Tax When I Sell My Business? 10 Things You Need to Know

Selling a business is a monumental decision, one that comes with its fair share of financial implications. Among the myriad of considerations, the question that often looms large is, “Do I have to pay tax when I sell my business?” The answer, while seemingly straightforward, is layered with nuances, especially in the Australian context.

Understanding Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

When you sell your business, the profit you make from the sale is considered a capital gain. In Australia, this profit is subject to Capital Gains Tax (CGT). However, it’s not as simple as paying tax on the entire profit. There are specific exemptions, concessions, and conditions that can influence the amount of CGT you owe.

For instance, if you’ve owned the business for more than 12 months, you might be eligible for a 50% discount on the capital gain, effectively reducing the taxable amount. This is just one of the many facets of CGT that business owners need to be aware of.

Expert advisor explaining Capital Gains Tax to a business owner.

Small Business CGT Concessions

Australia offers a range of CGT concessions for small businesses. These concessions can significantly reduce, or in some cases, even eliminate the CGT payable upon the sale of a business. Some of these concessions include:

  • General 15-year exemption: If you’ve owned your business for 15 years and are retiring or are permanently incapacitated, you might be exempt from CGT entirely.

  • Active asset reduction: A 50% reduction on the capital gain from an active asset related to your business.

  • Retirement exemption: There’s a lifetime limit, but this exemption allows capital gains from the sale of business assets to be exempt up to a certain amount.

It’s essential to consult with a tax professional or advisor to understand which concessions apply to your specific situation.

The Role of Business Structure

The structure of your business – whether it’s a sole trader, partnership, trust, or company – can influence the tax implications when selling. For instance, selling assets in a company might have different tax consequences compared to selling assets as a sole trader. It’s crucial to understand these differences and plan accordingly.

Business owner contemplating tax implications of selling a business in Australia.

Other Taxes to Consider

While CGT is the primary tax associated with selling a business, other taxes might come into play. For instance, if you sell assets like land or buildings, you might be liable for Goods and Services Tax (GST). Similarly, if you’re selling assets and the buyer assumes some of your business liabilities, this could have tax implications as well.

Seeking Expertise is Key

Navigating the tax landscape when selling a business can be intricate. That’s where experienced professionals come into play. With unparalleled expertise in facilitating successful business sales in Australia, they can guide you through the tax implications, ensuring a smooth transaction for all parties involved.

The Intricacies of Business Valuation

When considering the sale of your business, understanding its true value is paramount. This isn’t just about the physical assets or the revenue it generates. It encompasses brand value, customer loyalty, market positioning, and future growth potential.

A comprehensive Saleability Assessment & Valuation is conducted, revealing the recommended business position and value for a successful sale. This assessment is a blend of art and science, factoring in both tangible and intangible assets.

Preparing Your Business for Sale

Before you even think about taxes, it’s essential to ensure your business is sale-ready. This means:

  • Clear Financial Records: Potential buyers and tax authorities will want a clear picture of your business’s financial health. Ensure all financial statements, tax returns, and related documents are up-to-date and transparent.

  • Operational Efficiency: Streamline operations, ensuring that the business can run smoothly without your day-to-day involvement. This not only increases the business’s appeal but can also positively impact its valuation.

  • Legal Clearance: Ensure there are no pending legal disputes, and all contracts (with employees, suppliers, clients) are in order.

The Emotional Aspect of Selling

Selling a business isn’t just a financial decision; it’s an emotional one. You’ve poured your heart and soul into building it. Recognising this emotional journey is crucial. It’s okay to feel a mix of excitement, apprehension, and even sadness. Engaging with trusted advisors, can provide not only expert advice but also emotional support during this transition.

Post-Sale Financial Planning

Once the sale is finalised and taxes accounted for, what’s next? It’s time to think about post-sale financial planning. Whether you’re considering retirement, investing in another venture, or exploring other opportunities, having a clear financial roadmap is essential. This might involve:

  • Investment Strategies: How will you invest the proceeds from the sale to ensure sustained growth?

  • Tax Planning: With a significant influx of capital, how can you optimize your tax situation in the coming years?

  • Estate Planning: Especially for older business owners, how will the sale impact your estate and succession planning?

The Importance of Continuous Learning

The business landscape, especially the tax implications surrounding it, is ever-evolving. Staying updated is not just beneficial for business owners looking to sell but for any entrepreneur. Regularly attending workshops, seminars, or even engaging in online courses can keep you informed. For instance, CBS often collaborates with leading law firms, accountants, and other professionals, offering a wealth of knowledge to their clientele.


Selling a business, especially in Australia, is a multifaceted journey. From understanding the intricacies of Capital Gains Tax to preparing your business for sale and navigating the emotional roller-coaster, every step requires careful consideration and planning. The key question, “Do I have to pay tax when I sell my business?“, while central, is just one of the many aspects that business owners need to grapple with. With the right guidance, expertise, and resources, this journey can be not just profitable, but also deeply fulfilling. As you embark on this path, remember that every decision, every step, and every challenge is a part of your entrepreneurial story, one that deserves to be navigated with care, expertise, and passion.


Yes, you might be liable to pay Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on the profit from the sale. However, there are exemptions and concessions available.

Some of the concessions include the general 15-year exemption, active asset reduction, and retirement exemption.

Ensure clear financial records, streamline operations, and get legal clearances. Engaging with experts like CBS Business Brokers & Advisory can provide comprehensive guidance.

Consider post-sale financial planning, including investment strategies, tax planning, and estate planning.

Regularly attend workshops, seminars, or engage with trusted advisors and professionals in the field.


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