Question: Is zakaah due on shares in real estate companies?
Answer Praise be to Allaah. With regard to shares in real estate companies, one of the following two scenarios must apply:
1 - The companies buy land in order to build onit or make use of whatever buildings are on it to rent them out, for example, so there is no zakaah on these shares, rather zakaah is due on the profits only, if they reach the nisaab and one year has passed, because these lands and properties are not subject to zakaah, rather zakaah is due on their returns or income if it reaches the nisaab and one year has passed.
But it should be noted that these companies reserves are bound to contain cash and funds in the bank, and this money is subject to zakaah, so it is essential to know what proportion of these funds each share represents, and pay zakaah on it each year.
2 - Or the companies buy properties, land or buildings, with the aim of trading in them. These shares are regarded as trade goods, so zakaah is due on them and on their profits. So zakaah must be paid according to their value each year, plus their profits. This is the usual activity of real estate companies. Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen (RAH) was asked about a man who bought shares in a piece of land belonging to a real-estate company. Many years have passed, how should he pay zakaah on that? He replied: It would seem that these shares are trade goods, because those who buy shares in land intend to trade them and earn from them, hence they have to pay zakaah on them every year, by working out their value and paying zakaah. So if a person has thirty thousand shares and at the end of the year they are worth sixty thousand, he has to pay zakaah on sixty thousand. If at the end of the year the thirty thousand is worth only ten thousand, then he only has to pay zakaah on ten thousand.
Based on this, the questioner has to work out the zakaah for every year, and he should pay zakaah for each year. But if these shares have not yet been sold, he should pay zakaah on them when they are sold. But no one should be negligent, rather he should sell them for whatever Allaah decrees, and then pay the zakaah on them. [MajmooFataawa Ibn Uthyameen, 18/226] The scholars of the Standing Committee for issuing Fatwas were asked about a man who bought shares in a piece of land, then sold them after five years.
How should he pay zakaah on them? They replied: "He should pay zakaah for each of the four previous years, according to their value each year, whether he made a profit or not, and he should pay zakaah on the profit and on the capital for the last year". [Fataawa al- Lajnah al-Daaimah, 9/350]
This applies whether the company sells the land as it is or builds on it and then sells it. Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen was asked about a man who buys land and, at the time of purchasing, intends to sell it when it has been built on. After the building is completed, he offers it for sale, and after receiving its price, he buys more land and so on.
Does he have to pay zakaah In this case? He replied: "The zakaah on trade goods is due on this land, because he has bought it in order to make a profit from it, and it makes no difference whether he intends to sell it before developing it or afterwards. This is like one who buys fabric in order to make a profit from it after sewing it into garments". Majmoo Fataawa Ibn Uthaymeen, 18/227.
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited