I get why a large proportion of Australians are against the tax deductions available to ‘negatively geared’ property investors.
And I agree (in some ways) – that the current policy of allowing property investors to deduct their property losses against their wages could be improved (some/most of you would be surprised to hear me say that – considering I own a business where all my clients are property investors and a large proportion of those are negatively geared).
You see, I don’t think negative gearing on property was ever designed to enable someone to own 50 properties, claim all the losses and reduce their taxable income down to zero dollars and pay no tax.
Further, I don’t think negative gearing should enable someone to buy a $20m house in Vaucluse and get rent of $3000 whilst claiming the massive losses on the $20m house as a tax deduction.
That was never part of the plan – but both are achievable under the current tax regime.
So I do get it.
BUT – the proposed Labor policy to limit negative gearing to brand new properties only could be improved in my opinion
Next month – I will outline one solution that could address the problems highlighted above and would also allow the Labor Party to “save face”, should they win the upcoming Federal Election.
First, a quick recap of Labor’s Negative Gearing & CGT policy…
From a yet to be determined date – negative gearing will only be allowed on brand new properties moving forward.
Existing negatively geared properties will be grandfathered and thus not affected.
Moving forward you will no longer be able to deduct these losses against your personal income , you will be able to deduct them against other investment income (say share dividends or other positively geared property) or you can carry the losses forward to offset the final capital gain.
Labor will reduce the capital gains tax discount for assets that are held longer than 12 months from the current 50 per cent to 25 per cent.
So that’s what’s currently on the table.
Given these proposed changes, there’s no better time than now to make sure you’re claiming every depreciation deduction you’re currently entitled to.
Here are 7 factors that you, I and the Labor Party need to think about when it comes to abolishing negative gearing as we know it and halving the CGT discount:
1. Labor’s policy will open a can of spruiker worms
The current proposal by Labor will abolish negative gearing on future purchases of 2nd hand residential property but will still allow negative gearing for brand new property.
I get the reasoning behind this line of thinking. No one wants to stop new development and construction – because construction has a massive flow-on effect through the broader economy.
However, it also opens a door already ajar for property spruikers to further push overpriced property off the plan to potential investors.
Next thing you know investors are flying off to the Gold Coast and being shown the red carpet!
Of all the material I have read when researching this article – I haven’t seen many written by people who understand how the New Property selling market works – only by economists who look at numbers.
2. Creation of a two-tiered property market
By creating a property market where you allow far greater deductions on brand new property in comparison to a similar 2nd hand property, it makes it very hard to sell almost new property.
Why would you buy a property that is, say, one year old when you can buy the one that is brand new next door and get significantly better tax benefits?
Having one rule for new properties and another for 2nd hand property was already implemented by the Turnbull Govt in May 2017
As you probably know by now – you can only claim depreciation on the plant and equipment in brand new buildings or if it was purchased brand new for a second hand property.
So I crunched the numbers, using the new depreciation laws and the current negative gearing regime.
Property depreciation comparison with legislation changes
Brand New Property
Property Age 1987 – 2019
Property Built Before 1987
Rent Received @ $700 Per Week
Interest @ 5.5% of 80% Borrowing
Other Expenses @ 1.5% (Rates levies)
Cash Outlay Before Depreciation
Year 1 Depreciation Deduction – Building
Year 1 Depreciation Deduction – Plant & Equip
Total Taxation loss
Tax Refund @ 37%
Annual Cost (Net Outlay + Tax Refund)
Cash Outlay Per Week (If Positive the Property Pays you)
In the above table, I have compared the purchase of a brand new property, a property built between 1987-2019 and a property built before 1987 if purchased after the May 2017 legislation changes.
If a property is built before 1987, you cannot claim the building allowance or structure of the building (this is why I have chosen this date).
I have assumed that rent, interest and other costs are the same across the board for illustrative purposes.
As you can see – there is already a significant benefit in buying a brand new property in comparison to buying a second hand property.
Labor’s policy will just increase this bias towards new property.
3. Labor’s policy may actually favour the wealthy
I’m going to declare something here – I actually grew up in a strong Labor household. Gough Whitlam even came to my house back in the day, as my father ran for Labor in the seat of Lowe in 1975 against Billy McMahon.
Why do I tell you this? Well, two reasons, a. so readers don’t think I’m a Liberal Party stooge and b. because I’m not sure the following scenario reflects the Labor values from yesteryear
Consider the following two examples assuming the proposed changes are implemented:
Scenario 1. Jill Jones has 8 positively geared properties and a range of shares all owned in her own name.
Jill buys a negatively geared property – Jill can now use the benefit of the tax losses from her negative gearing and claim those losses against her investment income.
Jill can utilise her property tax losses now.
Scenario 2. Jill’s sister – Mary – has no properties or shares. Mary buys a negatively geared, two-year old property.
Mary, because she doesn’t have any other assets, may only be able to use the losses, if she sells the property and it makes a profit.
Mary cannot utilise her property losses now and possibly ever.
4. The cost benefit analysis
In researching this article, I couldn’t find much information relating to the impact on revenue lost by the implementation of abolishing negative gearing on second-hand properties.
Recently, however, PIPA has released a statement that the proposed changes will cost the Labor Party between $10bn to $32bn over a 10-year period.
Now some of you might say that PIPA is a property organisation with an agenda to push – but what if they are even half right?
One thing I certainly agree with from their media release is I have no doubt that limiting negative gearing and reducing capital gains tax concessions by the Federal Labor Party will discourage property investors from buying property Mr Koulizos said.
So what impact will less transactions have:
It will mean less Stamp Duty collection for the states.
It will mean less sales commission paid to real estate agents and less mortgage commissions, buyers agents fees etc. which could have a knock-on effect throughout the economy.
It could mean people with existing investment properties that are grandfathered will hold onto them – thus reducing the CGT collection.
It could mean less Land Tax collection – because lower property prices will in turn reduce the overall land values of property, and the land value is used to determine the amount of land tax payable.
Oh and the big one – It will mean less work for Quantity Surveyors and I will have to play more golf. Well in that case – knock your socks off Labor and go for it. (I’m allowed one joke if you have read this far – right!?)
5. Negative Gearing as a concept is misunderstood
Most people probably understand that property is negatively geared when the money you pay out to own the property is higher than your rent.
BUT if I asked the average person on the street if they realised that by abolishing negative gearing on newly acquired, second-hand properties – you would no longer necessarily be able to immediately claim property management fees, strata levies and even Land tax – would they think that’s fair?
Interestingly, of the 2,202 people surveyed in our own poll, when asked this, almost 38% said they were not aware of this.
So let’s imagine this scenario – you rent out your newly acquired second-hand property for $500 per week and you pay interest costs of $500 per week, which is fairly reasonable.
Here’s a list of “losses” that you will no longer be able to deduct immediately if Labor’s policy becomes law:
Body corporate fees
Maintenance like lawn mowing
Advertising for a tenant
Property Management fees
Repairs to property
And finally, one that makes me really laugh, you might not even be able to claim LAND TAX as a deduction.
These losses may be carried forward and utilised in the event you sell your property for a profit or you can offset these losses against investment income from other positively geared property or your vast array of shares that you own!
6. It is the wrong time to tinker with Negative Gearing
Labor’s policy on negative gearing was launched at a time when property in Sydney and Melbourne were, quite simply, inflated. As we all know, things have changed.
Labor was looking for an alternate policy to the status quo and something that would help the housing affordability crisis.
A Treasury document released under the Freedom of Information Act acknowledged that the ALP policies could introduce some downward pressure on property prices in the short term particularly if the commencement of the policy coincides with a weaker housing market.
7. I’m actually ok with the CGT changes
That may shock some of you, but provided the halving of the CGT discount applies to both shares and property I don’t think it will have a big impact on whether property investors buy or not. And of course it will generate significant revenue for the government.
You see, from my experience, most investors (rightly or wrongly) focus on the cashflow requirements of the property investment in the early years to ensure they can afford the property.
And there’s also one great way to avoid paying CGT on property – don’t sell it!
Well if the polls and betting agencies are correct – it looks like the Labor Party will win the next election.
So we are going to need a solution that will enable the Labor Party to keep its election promise in a way that will not disrupt the property market and will still increase the Government’s revenue.
No easy task! Stay tuned… Next month I’ll be publishing a possible alternative solution that could potentially achieve the above!
Well, the dust has finally settled on the new legislation regarding the Budget changes to depreciation that will apply to second-hand residential properties.
In this article we will dig deep into some of the questions we have commonly been asked since the 9th of May 2017, when the changes were announced in the Federal Budget.
Before we get into the nitty gritty let’s begin with a quick recap:
Property investors who acquire a second-hand residential property after May 10, 2017, that contain “previously used” depreciating assets, will no longer be able to claim depreciation on those assets. Depreciating assets, in this case, refers to things like ovens, dishwashers, blinds, etc.
As you already know, in 2017, the rule book on depreciation changed massively.
The Federal Government successfully voted on new legislation to change the way depreciation works, representing the biggest move in the industry that I’ve ever seen – and I’ve been a quantity surveyor for over 25 years!
The changes were effective as at 9 May 2017 at 7.30pm, when the federal budget was handed down. As you can imagine, they have huge implications for property investors and more importantly, the property equation, which we’ll go into later.
So, how have things changed exactly?
The best way to understand it is to break the changes down into nine simple key points:
1. If you acquire a second-hand residential property from 10 May 2017, which contains ‘previously used’ depreciating assets, you will no longer be able to claim depreciation on those assets. This refers to the plant and equipment portion of a depreciation schedule, including:
• Lounge suites
• Common property plant and equipment items.
2. However, the building allowance, or claims on the structure of the building, has not changed at all. You will still need a depreciation schedule to calculate these deductions, which typically accounts for 85 per cent of the overall construction cost. The structure includes things like brickwork and concrete so there’s no change to that.
3. Acquirers of brand-new property will carry on claiming depreciation in exactly the same way as they have done so to-date – for both plant and equipment and structure. This is great news for the property industry, because a lot of developers rely on depreciation as part of their marketing strategy to attract investors. The government resisted making changes to depreciation on brand-new property because it did not want to halt construction, which would have impacted upon the supply of new property. A downturn in the construction industry would also have a knock-on effect – if tradies are out of work, they aren’t paying tax!
4. If you renovate a house while living in it, then sell the property to an investor, the assets will be deemed to have been previously used and the new owner cannot claim depreciation on the plant and equipment.
5. The proposed changes do not apply if you buy the property in a corporate tax entity, super fund (note self-managed super funds do not apply here) or a large unit trust. In other words, you can still buy a second-hand property in a company name and claim depreciation on it. You can buy a second-hand property in a super fund – as long as it’s a large one – and a large trust can buy a property as long as it has 300 members
or more, and claim depreciation on that property.
6. The proposed changes only relate to residential property. Commercial, industrial, retail and other non-residential properties are not affected, so you can still buy a second-hand office or similar and continue to claim the second-hand carpet, exactly as you could before. You can’t do this for residential property, as I’ve explained above.
7. If you engage a builder to build a brand-new house, or do the work yourself and it remains an investment property, you will still be able to claim depreciation on both the structure and the plant and equipment items. This is because it’s brand new, and was brand new when you put in that oven. Therefore, you can still claim it because the costs are known.
8. If you engage a builder to renovate a property – or you do the work yourself – and it is also being used as an investment property, you will still be able to claim depreciation on it when you have finished the renovations. As above, this is because the assets you install are brand new, therefore you can still claim. But if you bought a property renovated by someone else and they lived in it for six months or a year and then sold it – you can’t claim depreciation on the oven and dishwasher, etc. in the future, because they have now been previously used. See the difference?
9. While investors purchasing second-hand property can now no longer claim depreciation on the existing plant and equipment, they will have the benefit of paying less capital gains tax when they sell the property. How? Well, when they replace or remove an item of plant & equipment they would have been able to claim in depreciation under the previous legislation, the opening value of the asset can be claimed as a capital loss.
In my opinion, it seems like a lot of work to get the same result. The new rules have just moved depreciation from one line of the budget to another!
The good news is that the new legislation is ‘grandfathered’. That means that for everyone out there with an existing depreciation schedule, you can continue to claim exactly as you have been doing. So, if you bought a property prior to the budget – 9 May 2017 – nothing has changed. And if you have bought an investment prior to this date, and you don’t have a depreciation schedule, there’s never been a better time to get one! You might not get these allowances again.
One final point on grandfathering; if you bought a property prior to the budget and it is owner-occupied, and then you move out after 1 July 2017 – you will not be able to claim depreciation on the plant and equipment in that property.
Those items will be deemed to be previously used and caught in the net of the changing legislation – even though you acquired the property prior to the budget. So, these changes are kind of ‘half grandfathered’ if you ask me.
You will, however, still be able to claim the building allowance in this scenario if the property was built after 1987.
So let’s start with some of the easy questions we’ve been asked.
1. Do these new rules apply to brand new investment properties as well?
No, they don’t, if you buy a brand new property you will be able to carry on claim claiming depreciation exactly the way you have done so to date. That means you can claim both the plant & equipment and structure of the building. That is unless you live in the property as an owner occupier at any time after its completion, this would then mean the plant and equipment assets are deemed ‘previously used’.
3. Can I still claim depreciation on things like the bricks, concrete & windows etc?
Yes you can, provided the residential property was built after 1987 when the building allowance kicked in.
You will still need a depreciation schedule to calculate these deductions. This component typically represents approximately between 80 to 85 percent of the construction cost of a property.
4. Can I still claim depreciation on plant and equipment items if I buy them and have them installed?
Yes, you can, provided they are brand new or from 2nds World or the like.
However, if you buy a second-hand item off Gumtree, for instance, you cannot claim the depreciation.
There is now no other depreciable asset class where this occurs.
The new laws state that the item cannot be “previously used” in order for you to claim the depreciation on it.
However, if you buy a “previously used” lounge off Gumtree and put it in your office – you can claim it.
6. What if I bought a property prior to the budget and lived in the property until now – can I claim the depreciation?
If you bought a property prior to the budget and it is owner-occupied, and then you move out after 1 July 2017 – you will not be able to claim depreciation on the plant and equipment in that property.
The property needed to be income producing in the 2016/17 financial year.
Those items will be deemed to be previously used and caught in the net of the new legislation – even though you acquired the property prior to the budget. So, these changes are kind of ‘half-grandfathered’, if you ask me. If you did buy an investment property prior to the budget, I would recommend getting a depreciation quote now, more then ever.
7. What happens If I inherit a property – can I claim the depreciation on the plant and equipment as well as the building?
Well, you will certainly be able to claim the depreciation on the residential structure of the building, provided it’s built after 1987. So there’s no change there – and this covers most properties.
Whilst there is no specific ruling on the plant and equipment it seems to me that if you inherit a property with plant and equipment items contained within, they will be deemed to be “previously used” and you won’t be able to claim them.
This would, in my opinion, even occur if the person that you inherited the property from, bought the property brand new.
As I mentioned, there is little guidance on this topic so it might be best to check this with the ATO if this question is relevant to you.
9. Can I still claim depreciation on a property that I bought overseas?
The answer is yes, you can depreciate an overseas investment property… but there are a few key differences.
The first main difference is with regard to claiming the building allowance. With Australian properties, you’re entitled to claim 2.5 per-cent of these construction costs per annum, as long as the property was built after July 1985. The rate for overseas properties is the same – but the date is different.
Construction of an overseas property must have commenced after 22 August 1990.
So, if you want to maximise your depreciation benefits on an overseas property, look for a newer property built in the last decade or two.
The plant and equipment, such as carpets, ovens, lights, and blinds, can also be depreciated as they would be in an Australian investment property but now they will have to be brand new or not previously used.
10. What happens if I engage a builder to renovate my investment property can I still claim depreciation?
In simple terms yes – provided all the plant & equipment items that were installed were brand new. You will also be able to claim all the structural items installed such as kitchen cupboards, tiling windows etc.
12. Show me the numbers?! How much will these changes actually mean in terms of how much depreciation I will be able to claim moving forward?
Well in order to understand this – it’s best to examine 3 different scenarios:
An investor buys a brand new unit or house for $850,000.
As you can see from the above chart the depreciation amount you can claim if you bought the same property pre-budget or post-budget hasn’t changed.
That’s because a brand new property is exempt from these changes.
An investor buys a residential house or unit for $850,000 that was built in the year 2000.
As you can see from the above the depreciation allowances available have dramatically reduced in the early years now.
Towards about year 8 they level out and aren’t that different. This is because the pre-budget chart on the left-hand side still shows that you can claim the plant and equipment. Whereas the chart on the right-hand side shows how you can only claim the building allowance moving forward.
The key takeaway from this is: That the depreciation allowances on second-hand property built after 1987 are affected most in the first 5 years. After that – there’s not much difference.
An investor buys a residential house or unit for $850,000 that was built prior to 1987 – that hasn’t been renovated.
Well in this scenario it’s all or nothing! Pre-budget we, as quantity surveyors, would visit a property, regardless of its age, and re-value the plant and equipment items like carpet, oven etc. In essence, starting the depreciation process again.
The Government wanted to stop this continual revaluation of plant & equipment and this will be achieved by the new legislation.
As you can see from the chart above if you buy a property that was built prior to 1987, there will be no claim at all if the property is still in its original state.
Why? Well, the plant & equipment will be deemed as previously used, thus no claim applies and in order to claim the building allowance, the property has to be built after 1987.
However, this is very rare, as most properties built prior to 1987 have had some renovation to them, whether that be a new bathroom or kitchen and those costs are claimable.
13. Can I still claim depreciation on plant and equipment on my holiday home if I use it twice a year?
This is the biggest grey area of all the legislative changes in my view and one that will require further clarification moving forward.
The Government in the Housing Tax Bill Explanatory Memorandum states that if a property is used in an “incidental way” or “occasionally used” then your depreciation eligibility on the Plant & Equipment does not stop if you acquired the plant & equipment prior to The Budget in May 2017.
Incidental Use is described as:
“Use is incidental if it is minor in the context of the overall use and arises in connection with another non-incidental use – for example staying at the property for one evening while carrying out maintenance activities would generally be incidental use.”
Occasionally Used is described as:
“Spending a weekend in a holiday home or allowing relatives to stay for one weekend in the holiday home free of charge that is usually used for rent would generally be occasional use.“
It’s a bit vague, isn’t it?
Does one week a year over Christmas nullify your claim? What about if you stay for Easter and Christmas?
What does this mean for all the Airbnb landlords out there that claim depreciation but move in when times are quiet but acquired the property prior to the budget? They went into that investment doing the maths on being able to claim the depreciation on a pro-rata basis based on the tax laws at the time?
Now if they use the apartment for an unknown time they may be disallowed the depreciation deduction.
Strangely, this Memorandum, differs from the ATO’s website which was updated on the 15th of December 2017 which indicates that “Gail and Craig” who use their property for 4 weeks a year can claim the depreciation? “Kelly and Dean” would appear to be ok as well!
Whilst the Memorandum doesn’t give a time frame… it indicates that a weekend is OK…I would’ve thought 4 weeks would’ve been stretching it?! Who knows – pick a number????
This is at a time when the ATO wants to target Airbnb hosts and pro-rata any capital gain tax exemption that may be applicable.
Hopefully, sense will prevail and if the holiday home is clearly available for rent – like 11 months over the year – it’s still an investment property.
Dealing with your rental property post-budget change
Before the budget change investors were entitled to claim plant and equipment and building allowance, so long as the property was built post-1987 and the property had settled within 10 years of getting the depreciation report, even if they had lived in the property prior, post or during the purchasing of their depreciation report.
A common question regarding the budget change:
The other day I received an email from one of my clients asking me for some personalised advice regarding his investment property and depreciation report. He told me he and his wife had purchased their first home in 2011. It was not a brand new property, and between 2014-2016 they rented out the property with a full depreciation schedule, claiming all they were entitled to. At the start of 2016 they moved back in to their home, and are now looking to renting it out again.
He was wondering if they are still eligible to claim the original tax depreciation schedule they purchased in 2014, or do they have to adhere to the new government tax depreciation rules since the budget change concerning the plant and equipment on established properties.
I thought this was a great question, and wanted to ensure all of my clients and readers were aware of the significant changes to the way second-hand, previously used assets are now being treated moving forward from the budget change.
The changes outlined:
As of the Federal Budget Announcement on the 9th May 2017, the Government has disallowed depreciation deductions on items such as Ovens, Dishwasher etc. where they have been previously used.
Whilst these new laws are grandfathered and as such are only applicable to properties purchased after the May 9th announcement, one caveat exists: The property must be income-generating at some point between July 1st, 2016 and June 30th, 2017.
This meant, that even though my client had acquired the property before the budget, they were unfortunately ‘caught in the net’ because they were living in their property for the entirety of the 2016/2017 financial year. Due to this, those aforementioned items would now be considered ‘previously used’ and they wouldn’t be entitled to claim any further depreciation on them.
The explanatory memorandum issued by the Government is a bit ambiguous (if you ask me):
“The amendments also apply to assets acquired before this time if the assets were first used or installed ready for use by an entity during or prior to the income year in which this measure was publicly announced (generally the 2016-17 income year), but the asset was not used at all for a taxable purpose in that income year. “
It’s worth noting that these new rules only apply to residential properties. Commercial, industrial and other non-residential property are not included.
It’s also important to note that the way residential property investors claim depreciation on the building has not been altered. You can continue to claim the depreciation on the structure (all the bricks, concrete etc.) provided the building was built after 1987.
If you’re looking to invest in real estate, commercial properties present plenty of opportunities. However, you need to consider the risks and market drivers. This commercial property investment guide will help you.
You must think about more than the property investment basics when investing in commercial real estate. There are many complex market issues at work, which means you take on more risk.
Understanding these issues will play a role in the success of your investment in real estate. Commercial properties come in all shapes and sizes, which you must account for. This commercial property guide will equip you with the tools you need to succeed.
The Market Drivers
Several drivers affect the state of the commercial real estate market. You must understand what these drivers are before you can invest successfully. They include the following:
The strength of the economy. A weak economy means there are fewer businesses available to lease your property. Keep an eye on the data. For example, transport sector growth indicates that an economy is getting stronger.
Infrastructural improvements influence businesses’ decisions. For example, the building of new roads usually results in an influx of companies to an area. Buy your commercial property with future developments in mind.
The Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) interest rates have an effect. If interest rates are on the rise, you’ll find less success with your commercial property. The cost of money increases. This places your potential tenants under greater financial strain. Conversely, low interest rates lead to more demand.
Population growth in certain regions will affect your decisions in real estate. Commercial properties do well in areas with large populations. This is because the demand for services increases, which leads to an influx of businesses into the area.
You should also consider population demographics. For example, areas with a lot of retirees will have more need for medical services. However, areas with lots of children need more family-oriented services. Use population demographics to find out about the types of businesses that will express an interest in your property.
There are also several risk factors to consider when you invest in commercial property. Here are some of the most important:
Commercial properties tend to stand vacant for longer than residential properties. You will have to handle the costs of the property during such periods. As a result, it’s usually best to tie commercial tenants to long-term leases.
New property construction always presents a risk to your investment. Your tenants may decide to explore their options, which could lead to vacancies. It’s the issue of supply and demand. The more supply, the harder it is to find tenants. You also won’t be able to charge your tenants as much when there are other options available.
Size is an issue. Large commercial plots cost a lot more to maintain, and are only suitable for certain types of business. Smaller plots may be cheaper, but they also have their limits. You must consider the local demand for services before deciding on the size of your commercial investment.
Infrastructural improvements in other areas represent risks for your established commercial properties. Your tenants may make the move to the new area, which means you lose out. As a general rule, try to invest in properties that are close to central business districts (CBDs).
A poorly-constructed lease could lead to the failure of your commercial investment. These are the factors to consider when creating your leases:
Commercial leases can extend from three years up to 10. The longer the lease, the less risk of vacancy. However, a bad tenant on a long-term lease could cost you. Offer the option to renew if you’re confident in the tenant’s ability to make on-time payments.
Link your rent increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
You may require council approval for some types of business. For example, chemical treatment plants need to have the correct documentation.
Insert a condition that compels the tenants to revert the property to its original condition upon leaving. This will make it easier for you to rent the property out again when you current tenant departs.
What Else Should You Consider?
Further to this, you need to arrange proper financing for your purchase. Many residential lenders can’t help you with commercial properties. As a result, you may have to locate a specialty lender. Furthermore, you may not be able to borrow more than 70% of the property’s value.
You’ll also deal with a commercial agent, rather than a real estate agent. These professionals specialise in attracting the right businesses to your property. They’ll also help you to create attractive deals for potential tenants.
The Final Word
As you can see, commercial investment is a complex subject. This commercial property guide will equip you with the tools you need to succeed.
The team at Washington Brown can also help you to claim depreciation on your commercial property. Contact us today to speak to a Quantity Surveyor.
Cashflow can become a major problem with your property investment. For beginners, slow cashflow could prevent you from building your portfolio as quickly as you’d like. Happily, there are some tricks you can use to make improvements to your investment property cashflow.
So, you’ve got what you think is a great investment property. You’ve followed all the property investment basics, but your cashflow is tighter than you expected. At times, it can be a real struggle to pull together the money to pay for the property’s expenses.
This is a common problem, no matter how well you’ve followed investment property tips. Beginners, in particular, tend to struggle with getting their cashflow up to the level they’d hoped for.
All is not lost. There are a few tips you can follow to improve your investment property cashflow.
Tip #1 – Raise the Rent
It may seem like a simple tip, but it’s one that many beginners don’t think about when they’re dealing with cashflow issues. Raising the rent on your property can offer a short-term solution while you look at the bigger problems.
Of course, you can’t do this every time you face a cashflow issue. Constant rent increases will drive your tenants away. However, it becomes an option if you haven’t re-examined your rents for some time. In such cases, you may be charging less than other investors in the area.
You must also remember your tenancy agreement, along with the laws of your state. Either may prevent you from raising your rents. That’s why many investors wait until the end of a tenant’s lease period before increasing the rent. With some luck, you can secure the tenant on a longer fixed lease at the new rate.
Tip #2 – Take a Look at Your Home Loan
Do you still have the same home loan you applied for when you bought your investment property? Australia has dozens of lenders who offer hundreds of mortgage products between them. Take advantage of that fact to secure a better home loan.
Work with a mortgage broker to find out what other products are out there. You may find that switching your loan gives you access to lower interest rates and some useful new features. Alternatively, you could use the information you find as leverage against your current lender. Most lenders want to keep reliable clients. If you’ve made on-time repayments, you may find that your existing lender offers a better deal when you threaten to leave.
Those are some long-term options. You could also switch your home loan to interest-only periods for a short while. This will help you to deal with more immediate cashflow concerns.
Tip #3 – Look at Other Income Streams
The property investment basics don’t always cover the other income streams your property may have to offer.
Take some time to think about how you could use your property to generate more than the rental income.
For example, you could lease the side of the building as advertising space if your property is near a busy road. Alternatively, you could lease out any unused parking spaces. Each offers a little extra income beyond your property’s rental income. Remember, that every little bit can help when you have cashflow problems.
Tip #4 – Examine Your Outgoings
Reducing costs is a crucial part of property investment. For beginners, this means taking a detailed look at your figures. You may find that you’re paying too much for your insurance. Or, you could negotiate a better deal with your property managers.
Many who encounter cashflow issues find that they’re paying too much for various services. You may also be paying for things you don’t need. For example, you could handle some basic maintenance issues yourself, rather than hiring somebody to do it for you.
Again, this frees up small amounts of cash. Nevertheless, you’ll improve your cashflow with each positive change to your outgoings.
Tip #5 – Get on Top of Depreciation
It’s amazing to think about how many new investors don’t think about rental property depreciation rates. They don’t investigate the claims they could make on their assets. Instead, they keep plugging away without a depreciation report. Alternatively, they assume their accountants have factored depreciation into their tax returns.
You need a depreciation schedule. If you don’t have one, you’re cheating yourself out of thousands of dollars.
Hire a quality Quantity Surveyor to draft a full depreciation schedule. Your surveyor will ensure you claim the maximum amount over the lifetime of each asset. Furthermore, you’ll learn more about tax compliance in your state.
Your Next Step
You’ll make both short and long-term improvements to your cashflow if you follow these tips. You can handle the first four with the help of an accountant and mortgage broker. However, you need additional help to create a depreciation schedule.
Washington Brown has the answer. Speak to one of our Quantity Surveyors today to get a quote.
An investment property tax deductions calculator won’t always show you everything you can claim. Many leave out the assets that go into a typical depreciation schedule. Here are the things that your tax depreciation schedule must contain.
When it comes to tax, there’s one question you must ask about your investment property: what can I claim?
There are the basics of course. Everybody looks into mortgage tax deduction. Australia is full of financial experts who can help with this issue. You may even find that an investment property tax deductions calculator can do the basics for you.
But what about property depreciation? It’s a type of deduction many investors miss, but it could save you thousands of dollars every year. Others make claims, but do so using the wrong schedule. Again, they end up missing out on thousands of dollars in savings.
You need to call in the experts. No, that doesn’t mean your accountant. Instead, a Quantity Surveyor is the professional you need to create a strong depreciation schedule.
The typical schedule will include the depreciation of capital works and equipment. However, some leave out other, less obvious, assets. Here’s what your depreciation schedule must contain if you’re to maximise your deductions.
You may have chosen a unit or apartment as your first investment property. Australia has several cities, which can make such properties a wise investment choice.
Naturally, you’ll claim depreciation on your unit’s assets. But what about the assets that it shares with other units in the apartment complex? You can claim for your portion of those too, but many investors miss out on these deductions.
Common items include fire extinguishers, air conditioning units, and lifts. You can also claim for ventilation and hot water systems. You don’t get to claim depreciation on the full value of the asset, but even a little bit can help with your cashflow.
Item #2 – Scrapped Items
Let’s assume you’ve carried out some renovations on your property. Oftentimes, you’ll have a bunch of assets left over that you no longer have a use for. Many just throw such items away, without giving them a second thought.
That’s a mistake. Old items have what’s known as a scrapping, or residual, value. This is the item’s value once it’s reached the end of its use.
You can claim a final depreciation sum on any items you intend to throw away following renovations. Such items include old appliances or carpets. Have a Quantity Surveyor create a new depreciation schedule prior to your renovations. This will ensure you catch any assets with scrapping value.
Item #3 – Common Outdoor Items
Let’s come back to shared items. It’s not just the common indoor items you can claim depreciation on. Any common items outside the apartment block itself have value to you as well.
This includes pathways, fences, and various landscaping items, such as pergolas. You may even be able to make claims on a shared swimming pool.
However, you can’t claim for all common outdoor items. For example, turf and plants won’t find their way into your depreciation schedule.
Item #4 – The Fees You Pay to Design Professionals
Did you realise that you can include the fees you pay to design and construction professionals in your tax deductions? Australia offers plenty of opportunities to build your own property. Investors often go down this route, rather than buying an existing property.
Your depreciation schedule must account for the costs of such construction work. This includes the money you paid to any designers or architects who worked on the project.
Make sure you supply your Quantity Surveyor with accurate receipts for these services. This will allow you to maximise your claim for the fees you pay.
Item #5 –Money You Pay to the Council
You may have to pay fees to the council for various services. For example, there are costs involved with lodging application fees, or getting council permits.
If you’re building your own property, you may also have to spend money on infrastructure. This might include gutters and footpaths.
Your depreciation report should include all these items. Again, this is something that many investors miss out on because they don’t think the costs relate directly to their properties.
The Final Word
Check your depreciation report again. Does it include all the items on this list? If not, you’re missing out on several Australian Taxation Officer (ATO) tax incentives for homeowners.
You need the help of Washington Brown to create an accurate tax depreciation schedule. Call us today to speak to one of our Quantity Surveyors about your property.
Property depreciation is one of the largest tax deductions for homeowners in Australia. But did you know that you can backdate your property’s depreciation? Doing so could save you thousands of dollars every year.
As an investor, you need to take advantage of all the tax deductions Australia has to offer. Property depreciation deductions allow you to control your cash flow from your property. As a result, you can use them to enhance your property’s profitability.
Many who own an investment property in Australia claim depreciation yearly.
Unfortunately, some overlook these deductions entirely. Happily, you can backdate your depreciation claims. Firstly, let’s look at what property depreciation means.
You can claim for any loss of value resulting from the wear and tear of the property as it ages. Capital works are the building’s structural elements, and you can claim for all of them, including the roof tiles and the concrete used throughout the building.
You can also claim for the wear and tear of any equipment in the property. This includes things like the property’s fixtures, but extends to things like carpets and ceiling fans. (Deductions for these plant and equipment items may only apply if you bought the property prior to May 9, 2017 – Read about the Budget changes here).
Claiming for your property’s depreciation is one of the most effective tax deductions in Australia. It allows you to reduce your yearly taxable income, which means your tax bill also decreases. When used correctly, depreciation allows you to take home more money each year.
Behind the deductions you claim for interest expenses, depreciation is one of the largest tax deductions in Australia. However, many investors fail to claim for all their property depreciation. Some even forget about it entirely, which could result in the loss of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your investment.
Using Backdating to Claim Depreciation
So, what can you do if you haven’t claimed for all of the depreciation you’re entitled to? This is where backdating can help you.
There are two key steps you must take to backdate depreciation properly:
Work with a Quantity Surveyor to create a full depreciation schedule for your property. Your surveyor will inform you about every item you can make a claim for. They will also discuss rental property depreciation rates with you.
Bring the surveyor’s depreciation schedule to your accountant. He or she will alter your tax returns so that you claim for all of the depreciation you’re entitled to.
In most cases, you can only backdate depreciation for two years.
What is a Tax Depreciation Schedule?
If you’ve never claimed for your property’s depreciation, you may not know what a tax depreciation schedule is.
The schedule your Quantity Surveyor creates, offers a summary of every item in your property that depreciates in value. Think of it as an investment property tax deductions calculator focused solely on depreciation. The schedule notes every item, and informs you of how much you can claim for each over the course of the next 40 years.
As noted, your accountant can use this schedule to backdate your tax returns for the previous two years. However, they will also use it to help them to complete your future tax returns. This ensures you claim properly for all future depreciation of your property’s capital works and equipment.
Can I Backdate for More Than Two Years?
In most cases, you can’t backdate your tax returns for over two years. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has strict guidelines in place. These usually prevent you from exceeding the two-year limit.
However, that isn’t to say it is impossible. The ATO has different rules for companies than it does for individual investors. There are also different rules for those using a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF), or a trust.
As a result, it’s worth speaking to your accountant to find out if your situation allows you to backdate for more than two years. It’s unlikely, but you may strike it lucky and be able to claim for even more depreciation than you expected.
Is Backdating Worth It?
Yes, it is. If you don’t account for your investment property depreciation, you could lose out on thousands of dollars every year. In fact, claiming for depreciation can turn a negatively geared property into a positive one.
On top of that, you can also claim the cost of your Quantity Surveyor as a tax deduction.
The Final Word
That’s everything you need to know about backdating depreciation. Speak to your accountant today to find out how far you can backdate your claims.
Washington Brown is here to help if you need a quality Quantity Surveyor. Contact us today to get a full depreciation schedule for your investment property.
Many see granny flats as an easy property investment. For beginners, they offer the opportunity to start investing, without spending too much money. As with any investment property, you must remember to claim for the depreciation of your assets.
Tons of people like the idea of buying an investment property. Australia offers plenty of opportunities, but many struggle to get over the initial financial barrier.
You may find yourself asking how to invest in property with little money. A granny flat may be the answer. They cost less than most other types of investment property. Plus, you still get to claim for the depreciation of the property’s assets.
So, what are granny flats, and how can you claim for their depreciation? This article will help you to answer those questions.
What is a Granny Flat?
You can think of a granny flat as a secondary home on your property. They’re usually self-contained extensions that come with a lot of the features you would expect in an apartment. The difference is that the granny flat is on your land. As a result, you have far more control over it.
Most people build their granny flats behind their properties. After all, the back yard is a perfect space to extend into. The flat itself will usually contain the following:
A general living space
This makes them ideal for all sorts of tenants. The name “granny flat” should tell you that they’re perfect for elderly tenants. However, that’s not the only use for this type of investment property.
Australia is full of young people who view granny flats as an affordable way of achieving their independence. Your own children may find the idea of moving into a granny flat more appealing than staying at home.
They’re also a cheap way to enter the investment sector. On average, a granny flat costs about $120,000 to build. In return, you could enjoy a yield of up to 15% on the property.
You do, and they depend on the state you build the granny flat in. Each has its own rules with regard to size. For example, a granny flat cannot exceed 60 metres squared in New South Wales. However, you can build up to 90 metres squared in the Australian Capital Territory.
Exceeding these limitations changes the status of the granny flat. This could have an effect on how you claim tax deductions. Australia has several states, so you need to get informed before you start building.
Claiming Depreciation on Granny Flats
There’s one key question you must ask when buying an investment property: what can I claim? Granny flats are no different. Just because you’ve built the property on your land, doesn’t mean that you can’t claim depreciation.
As a secondary dwelling, a granny flat must produce an income before you can claim depreciation. Assuming that’s the case, you can claim depreciation for capital works. These include the wear and tear the structure undergoes during its lifetime.
You can also claim for plant & equipment depreciation. In a typical granny flat, this means you can claim depreciation for the following assets:
The hot water system
Air conditioning units
Curtains and blinds for the windows
A range of kitchen appliances and assets
The bathroom’s freestanding assets
You can also claim depreciation on the areas the granny flat shares with your home. For example, you could claim for a pool or a patio, assuming the tenant uses these assets.
As you can see, that covers a lot of ground. In fact, research suggests that you could claim over $5,000 in depreciation on a granny flat for the first year of ownership. This figure increases to almost $24,000 over the first five years. That’s about one-fifth of the value of the average granny flat, in just five years.
The Final Word
As you can see, granny flats offer high yields and plenty of opportunities to claim for depreciation. That’s why they’re considered one of the best options when it comes to property investment for beginners. Manage the flat correctly, and it could generate thousands of dollars in income in a short time.
However, you need help to create a full depreciation schedule. Without the help of a Quantity Surveyor, you may end up failing to claim for the full depreciation of your assets. Contact Washington Brown today to get a quote for a granny flat depreciation schedule.
The capital works allowance, or the building allowance as it is more commonly called, refers to the construction costs of the building itself including items such as concrete and brickwork.
Capital works deductions
Capital works deductions are income tax deductions. They can be claimed for expenses such as building construction costs or the cost of altering or improving a property.
Regarding residential properties, the general deductions are spread over a period of 25 or 40 years. When you purchase a property, keep in mind that the capital works deductions are not able to exceed the construction expenditure.
Also, no deductions are available until the construction has been completed if you are waiting on a new build to claim your deductions.
Deductions based on construction expenditure apply to capital works. Some examples are as follows;
A building or an extension. Eg, adding a garage or a room
Making structural improvements to the property
Making alterations to the property
A number of deductions you can claim depend on the type of construction and the date the construction commenced on the property.
Construction expenditure refers to the actual cost of constructing the building or extension. Deductions are possible on the expenses incurred in the construction of a building if you contract a builder to construct the building on your land.
However, there is construction expenditure that is not able to be claimed in deductions.
Some of these costs that are not included are listed below;
The cost of the land which the property is built on
The costs regarding landscaping
Expenditure on clearing the land before the construction commencement
Cost base adjustments
Cost base adjustments refer to figuring out the capital gain or capital loss from a rental property. It is possible that the cost base and reduced cost base of the property will need to be reduced to the extent that it includes construction expenditure in which you, as in investor, can claim in capital works deductions.
Find out What Capital Works Are and How You Can Claim Them
Not all people buy an investment property in Australia and leave it just the way it is. Many invest in improvements, so they can charge more rent to tenants. Buying a property and making improvements to it is one of the best investment property tips for beginners in its own right. But did you know there are plenty of tax deductions in Australia that you can claim for the extra features you build?
It all comes down to capital works. Also known as Division 43 of the Income Tax Assessment Act (ITAA), capital works relates to the work and materials you spent money on to build the house.
Such costs include the following:
The materials you use in construction, such as timber and tiles
New extensions, such as a garage
The construction of internal walls
Excavation of new foundations for your construction work
Improvements to the property’s structure, such as a new carport or fencing for the garden
Renovations to the bathroom and kitchen
Beyond these practical costs, you can also claim tax deductions in Australia for some of the fees associated with construction. For example, you can claim for the fees you pay to surveyors, architects, and engineers. Additionally, you could also claim for the money you spent on acquiring building permits for the work.
Can I Claim Capital Works?
It depends on your situation. Your building needs to generate income, which means it must be an investment property in Australia. If the building has produced income within one financial year of your claim, you can claim tax deductions as part of Division 43 of the ITAA.
As for your own status, it can vary. You could be an individual investor or member of a trust. Companies can also claim for capital works, as can the managers of superannuation funds.
How Do I Calculate My Capital Works Deductions?
The first thing to remember is that any valuations you have for the work are not relevant. Your capital works tax deductions in Australia must relate to the actual construction costs.
There are two rates may apply to your capital works – 2.5% and 4%. Which of these is relevant to your work depends on several factors. These include when you started construction, how you use the capital work, and the type of work undertaken. Furthermore, you have to take the amount of time the capital work generated an income for during the last financial year into account.
It’s best to speak to a professional to find out which rates apply to your capital work. Making claims you’re not entitled to could land you in trouble.
How Do I Make a Claim?
You can make claims for tax deductions in Australia on any capital works for a maximum of 40 years after the construction completion date. However, you’ll also have to provide several details in your claim, which include the following:
Information about the type of capital work undertaken
The start and end dates for construction
Information about who did the work
The actual cost of construction, which is not the same as any valuations or purchase prices you have
Information about how the capital work generated an income for you during the last financial year
Sometimes, it’s difficult to determine the actual construction costs. You may have lost some receipts along the way, which means you need an estimate. This must come from a quantity surveyor, or an independent third-party who holds similar qualifications to a quantity surveyor.
The estimate your quantity surveyor produces will consist of a schedule for all the capital works undertaken. It also creates a forecast for the tax deductions in Australia that you can claim on the work. Take this schedule and use it to complete your tax returns. Also, bear in mind that the estimate cannot come from a real estate agent or accountant. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will refuse your claims if your estimate comes from the wrong source.
How Does Capital Gains Tax Relate to Capital Works?
Any capital works that you claim must be taken into account if you decide to sell the property. You will use them to figure out your capital gains or losses.
You must deduct your capital works claims from the base cost of the home. The amount of these deductions will affect the amount of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) you pay. If the deductions result in you making a loss on the property, you may not have to pay any CGT.
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