Real Estate Investment Trusts or REITs is a well known internationally known appropriate business structure yet South Africa only adopted its tax law as of April 1st, 2013 and its stock exchange listed or publicly listed trading rules to accommodate REIT’s as of May 1st, 2013.
Since then many property groups not only converted to a listed REIT but also restructured their balance sheets to remove the debt linked to a unit or a share. Now, on September 6th, the first American Depositry Receipt (ADR) status was granted to a South African listed REIT. One ADR unit equals 10 REIT units on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Despite the ZA Rand being at a 3 week high, the more recent currency exchange is circa R10=1U$D.
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT)
REIT’s are tax transparent or tax through flow investment vehicles that invest in and derive their income from real estate properties and mortgage, without necessarily paying tax on their trade result. To qualify for the South African REIT dispensation, a the REIT (either a company or a trust) must be tax resident in South Africa and be listed as an REIT in terms of the JSE (Johannesburg Stock Exchange) listing requirements.
REIT profits are distributed as tax deductible expenses (effectively pre-tax income) which is then received and taxed in the investors’ hands as taxable dividend income. As of 1 January 2014 the SA dividend withholding tax at 15% or the treaty governed rate where the investor is resident in a treaty country, will apply to nonresident investors. Read more