It is generally accepted that an exemption to capital gains tax (CGT) applies to the family home, or “main residence”, and the exemption usually applies for only one home at any given time. But there is a rule that allows for a taxpayer to have two main residences and still maintain that CGT-free status for both premises for a temporary period.
Known as the “six month rule”, this states that two properties can be claimed as a main residence at the same time where a taxpayer acquires a dwelling that becomes their new main residence before they dispose of the original. This is a sensible allowance for an overlap of periods in which a taxpayer can claim exemption from CGT for two properties — one newly acquired and one that is to be sold. Selling the old house may take longer than six months, but the CGT exemption only holds for that long. The Tax Office cannot extend this concession.
It is available for the earlier of; six months after taking ownership of the new house, or when you transfer ownership of the old house. However there are two prerequisites to qualify — the old house must have been your main residence for at least a continuous three months in the 12 months before transfer; and if it was not your main residence for any of that time it can’t have been used to produce income.