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Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD): How Much You Have To Pay To Own Multiple Properties & 5 Ways To Avoid ABSD

It pays (several hundred thousand dollars literally) to think hard about ways to avoid ABSD.


ABSD, or Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty, was first introduced in 2011 as a residential property cooling measure. The intention was to curb speculation in residential properties, to ensure more stable property prices. Since then, the Singapore government has periodically raised ABSD, as property prices heat up – the latest on 27 April 2023.

Based on the latest URA statistics on private residential property prices, homes in Singapore rose 2.8% in the 4th quarter of 2023, and 6.8% for the whole of 2023. This comes on the back of an 8.6% increase in 2022 and 10.6% increase in 2021.

We look at how much ABSD we have to pay when buying a second investment property or even upgrading from our current property.

Read Also: New Property Cooling Measures: 4 Things That Home Buyers Need To Know Before Buying Their Next Home

We Need To Pay A Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD)

When we buy a residential property in Singapore we have to pay a Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD). Only if we are purchasing our second or subsequent property, do we need to fork out the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD). The ABSD is a separate tax on top of the BSD.

How much we have to pay in Buyer’s Stamp Duty or BSD is dependent on the value of our home. The BSD is a progressive tax, which means we don’t just pay more for a more expensive home, but also incur a higher tax level.

The BSD was last raised on 15 February 2023 to a top marginal rate of 6%.

Buyer’s Stamp Duty:

Purchase Price or Market Value of Residential Property Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD)
First $180,000 1%
Next $180,000 2%
Next $640,000 3%
Next $500,000 4%
Next $1.5 million 5%
Remaining amount 6%

Buying a $1 million home will cost us $24,600. Meanwhile buying a $4 million home will cost us much more than 4x this amount – setting us back $179,600, more than 7x the BSD for buying a $1 million home.

How Much Is The ABSD In Singapore?

If we are buying our second or subsequent residential property, we also have to fork out the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD).

It’s also slightly more complicated than calculating the Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) we incur. Rather than based on the incremental value of our property, it is a flat ABSD rate slapped on the entire purchase price of the property, based on the profile of the buyer.

Profile of the Buyer Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD)
[FROM 16 December 2021 TO 26 April 2023]
Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD)
[FROM 27 April 2023]
Singapore Citizens  
Singapore Citizen buying 1st residential property No ABSD No ABSD
(no change)
Singapore Citizen buying 2nd residential property 17% 20%
(increase of 3%-points)
Singapore Citizen buying 3rd and subsequent residential property 25% 30%
(increase of 5%-points)
Singapore Permanent Residents  
Singapore Permanent Resident buying 1st residential property 5% 5%
(no change)
Singapore Permanent Resident buying 2nd residential property 25% 30%
(increase of 5%-points)
Singapore Permanent Resident buying 3rd and subsequent residential property 30% 35%
(increase of 5%-points)
Foreigners  
Foreigners buying any residential property 30% 60%
(increase of 30%-points)
Entities  
Entities buying any residential property 35% + Additional 5% for Housing Developers 65%
(increase of 30%-points)Housing Developers: 35% + Additional 5% for Housing Developers(no change)

* Housing Developers may apply for remission of the ABSD rate, but not for the additional 5% they pay.

 

Singapore Citizens don’t have to pay any ABSD for their first private residential property purchase. However, we must pay an ABSD of 20% for our 2nd residential property and 30% for our 3rd and subsequent residential property purchases.

Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs) have to start paying ABSD from their 1st private residential property purchase, at a 5% ABSD rate. Subsequently, they must pay 30% ABSD for their 2nd residential property and 35% for their 3rd residential property purchases.

Foreigners also have to start paying 60% ABSD from their 1st residential property purchase. This is a hefty price to pay for them to own a home in Singapore.

Read Also: How Much Buyer’s Stamp Duty And ABSD Singaporeans, PRs And Foreigners Need To Pay – And When

How To Avoid The ABSD?

As we can see, the ABSD can be an immensely substantial amount that we have to fork out when we buy a second residential property. For example, a Singapore citizen who invests in a $2 million condominium today, will have to pay $69,600 in BSD alone.

If the person already owns an HDB flat or another private property, they will also be required to pay another $400,000 in ABSD.

As this is a substantial amount, people are naturally going to try to find ways to get around it if they can. There are a few ways we can do this (legally).

#1 Any ABSD We Pay Can Be Subsequently Reimbursed With CPF OA Balances

Technically, this isn’t “avoiding” ABSD. It is just avoiding ABSD payment in cash.

When we pay for the ABSD, we typically need to fork out for it in cash first. This makes it even more painful, even if we can afford it in our CPF balances or have no intention to hold two properties because we are selling our existing property.

We can only apply to use our CPF OA balances for the ABSD (and BSD), and get reimbursement from our CPF for the sum we paid in cash afterward.

However, given the amount of ABSD we have to pay on subsequent property investments, we will unlikely have enough in our CPF Ordinary Account (OA) to pay for it entirely.

#2 Sell Existing Residential Property First, Then Buy Next Residential Property

It can be quite prohibitive to buy another home without selling our existing home, even if the intention is to do so. This is because we have to pay the ABSD before being able to apply for an ABSD refund or remission. For example, the ABSD on a $1 million private residential property will be $200,000 at the lowest rate (e.g. Singapore Citizen couple buying another home to move into).

Another important thing to note is that applying for the ABSD remission only applies to married couples, who jointly purchase their next residential property. From 16 February 2024, as announced during the Singapore Budget 2024, Singaporean singles who are 55 and above can also apply for an ABSD remission when they rightsize to a lower-value home.

This means singles under 55 or unmarried couples cannot apply for ABSD remission if they purchase their next residential property without selling their existing residential property. Married couples must also purchase their next property under both names of the couple only.

The obvious workaround is that we should sell our existing property first, before buying a new property. Timing the purchases can be tricky, so we need to be very careful when planning it this way. Alternatively, we can always sell our home, move to a rented property for a period of time, before buying our next home.

Read Also: HDB Buyers & Upgraders: Two Unintended Groups Who Could Be Affected By The Latest Property Cooling Measures

#3 Decoupling

Another main reason we think about trying to avoid the ABSD is because we want to own two private residential properties as a couple rather than one.

By selling our residential property first, we can also consider de-coupling our names from our spouses to purchase one residential property under each couple’s name, without paying any ABSD.

Decoupling can also apply to private property owners who remove one of the spouse’s names from the property. Technically, this involves one spouse buying over the share of the other spouse. Once this is done, the spouse whose name has been decoupled is free to purchase another property without having to pay any ABSD.

When trying to decouple, the spouse who buys over the property must be able to refund the CPF monies that their spouse used, and they also have to take into consideration additional costs such as the Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) portion of the transaction and lawyers’ fees.

When purchasing another private residential property under the other spouse’s name, other factors such as whether they are able to get the required home loan as a sole buyer also matter.

If we cannot afford to buy two residential properties immediately, we can consider buying one, but with only one person’s name. In effect, this allows us to de-couple ahead of time. And, when we can afford it, we can use the second spouse’s name to purchase the 2nd property without ABSD in future. This will likely give us more time to accumulate sufficient savings to pay a downpayment for the 2nd property when the time comes.

One popular hack for couples to deploy this strategy is to use the 99-to-1 property share split when buying their first private property. When they subsequently sell the 1% ownership of one of the spouses, there will not be a hefty BSD to fork out.

Read Also: 5 Potential Pitfalls To Know Before Decoupling To Buy A Second Property In Singapore

#4 Apply For ABSD Remission As A Married Couple

Couples with at least one Singapore Citizen spouse or Singaporean singles who are 55 and above can apply for ABSD remission. This means Singapore Citizens who marry a permanent Resident or Foreigner and senior Singaporeans will not be penalised if they only intend to own one residential property in Singapore.

If we intend to get married to a Permanent Resident or a Foreigner, there’s no need to wait until they get their citizenship or PR status to enjoy lower ABSD rates.

#5 Foreigners Eligible For ABSD Remission

While it may be far-fetched to change citizenship or permanent residency status just to enjoy ABSD remission, nationals or permanent residents of certain countries are accorded the same Stamp Duty treatment as Singapore citizens.

Nationals of the USA and Nationals and Permanent Residents of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, are given this privilege under the respective Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) we have with them.

This means that they do not have to pay ABSD even for their first private property purchase. Quite counterintuitively, Permanent Residents of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland do not have to pay ABSD for their first private residential property in Singapore, while Singapore Permanent Residents have to pay 5% for their first private residential property.

Other Types Of Property Investments In Singapore

To avoid paying for ABSD, but still invest in multiple properties in Singapore, we can consider buying a commercial or industrial property. We can also consider investing in a popular asset class on SGX – REITs.

Of course, we can also invest in property outside of Singapore, via platforms such as BigFundr and RealVantage – which will not require us to pay ABSD.

Read Also: Investing in Property VS REITS: Which is Better

Here’s an infographic summarising the ways you can legally avoid Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD)

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