IN THE AFTERMATH of COVID-19, things are changing all the time, including restrictions and the impact these are having on a range of industries, including property.
So far the property market seems to be holding up pretty well, with minimal falls in values. But it’s a different story for the construction industry (a huge source of employment for Australians), which faces a steep drop in home building after September this year.
In light of this the Federal Government recently announced a new $25,000 property grant called HomeBuilder, to be handed out to eligible people building or renovating a home, which is designed to boost construction activity and stimulate the industry.
This $688 million housing stimulus package aims to build 30,000 homes by Christmas and is predicted to generate over $15 million in national economic activity, lead to $10 million in building projects and support more than 1 million jobs.
Details of HomeBuilder are still evolving, and there may be other assistance on offer in the months to come (particularly from state and territory governments) to stimulate the housing market – we’ll have to watch this space.
In the meantime, however, here is what we know about what’s currently on offer.
What is HomeBuilder?
The scheme offers a $25,000 grant to owner-occupiers substantially renovating their home or building a new home between June 4 and December 31 this year.
It comes with restrictions though – for new builds the home cannot be priced at more than $750,000 and renovations must cost at least $150,000 and up to $750,000 for a home valued at $1.5 million or less, but the work excludes sheds, pools, tennis courts, granny flats or any other structure detached from the dwelling.
The grant is also means tested, with income caps of $125,000 for singles and $200,000 for couples.
Contracts must be signed within the next six months and construction must start within three months of the contact date.
The program is expected to be up and running within a few weeks, with applications able to be backdated to June 4 so contracts can be entered into right away.
It will be implemented via a National Partnership Agreement with the federal, state and territory governments.
At the time of writing applications for the grants were not yet open, but Australians could register interest in the scheme through the Government’s official website.
The $25,000 HomeBuilder grant is designed to complement state and territory housing assistance programs, including grants and stamp duty discounts, to encourage more people to undertake building work.
Since the Federal HomeBuilder announcement, some states have offered further stimulus, with Tasmania offering $20,000 for any owner-occupier to build a house, while Western Australia is offering owner-occupiers and investors a $20,000 grant.
What are the pros and cons of the HomeBuilder grant?
Some argue the money offered by HomeBuilder would be more effective in achieving its aims of stimulating construction if it was given for the provision of social housing instead.
While the HomeBuilder grant will encourage more people to undertake a building project – either through a renovation or new build – which will stimulate the construction sector, inevitably it will also be given to those who were already planning a project anyway, which is one of the program’s criticisms.
Other criticisms are that it’s too restrictive due to factors such as the large outlay required (particularly for renovations), property value caps, means testing and timeframes – particularly to get approvals and plans – which may lead to a low take up.
It could also inflate prices for houses or trades, as grants often do, but the short timeframe for the scheme is expected to counteract this.
Despite all these potential drawbacks it has been reported that there has been huge enquiry – numbering 8000 as at June 8- about the program in the days following the announcement. This indicates interest – and potential take up – is high, and the program could be the catalyst for people taking action after sitting on the sidelines due to Coronavirus.
In particular it could be a great incentive for first home buyers, who will also be able to take advantage of state and territory grants, but it’s also a good opportunity for existing homeowners to upgrade to a new homes or update their current home.
What to consider
You should do you own research and seek expert advice before rushing in to take advantage of this grant, despite time being of the essence.
Ensure you are making a prudent investment decision and either buying a new home that will increase in value or ensuring you are adding value through a renovation and not overcapitalising.
Chris Gray of YourEmpire.com.au says in the past property grants have often created a short-term bubble in the market, and quite often it can be a “false economy”.
Home buyers, he says, are often better off buying a mainstream existing house in a well-located suburb with no grant rather than buying a new one with a grant, as the underlying investment in the most important thing.
He warned homebuyers taking advantage of HomeBuilder to do their numbers, and determine if they would actually still do a renovation and spend the money if they didn’t have the grant.
“The grant should be the bonus rather than the reason for doing it,” he says, adding that having to spend the extra $25,000 on a higher-value renovation means overcapitalising is a real risk.
“You might spend money on things that actually devalue the property such as gold-plated taps or diamond encrusted something else. You can spend money upscaling to satisfy the requirements of the grant and it doesn’t suit the area or the type of property.
“Get a fresh pair of eyes to look over your property and determine what it is worth now and what it will be worth after so you make sure you add value and know how much to spend on a renovation.”
Do we need more property grants to stimulate the housing market post COVID-19?
At this present time, it doesn’t appear that the housing market needs propping up via other grants or handouts.
According to CoreLogic Head of Research Tim Lawless property values have been quite insulated from a downturn to date, with CoreLogic data to the end of May showing home values were down less than half a percent.
The HomeBuilder grant is more about jobs than housing, he says.
“(It) is more about shoring up jobs in the residential construction sector, so it is rightly targeted towards incentives to build or renovate, rather than stoke demand for established homes which could have an inflationary effect on prices.”
Mr Lawless explained that housing construction has been in a broad downturn over the past year and a half, and will likely slump further through the year.
“Nationally dwelling commencements peaked in the first quarter of 2018 and by the end of last year had declined by around one third to be 14 per cent below the decade average,” he says.
“Considering housing construction typically provides a strong multiplier effect on the economy via the scope of the supply chain and array of trades and industries involved, a stimulus package for the sector makes sense.”
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.
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.
If you’ve engaged a builder, bought a house and land package, or constructed a brand new home yourself, then there is some great news!
The 2017 Budget changes to depreciation don’t affect you (provided you never lived in the house yourself); and,
We can generally complete your report at a lower fee, as we won’t have to conduct an inspection (provided you can supply us with the correct information)
Regarding the first point, the changes that restrict deductions on plant and equipment for second hand properties don’t apply to brand new properties. As a result, your depreciation claims will generally be much higher, especially in the early years of ownership.
Unfortunately, if you lived in the property as an owner occupier at any point, the plant and equipment assets are deemed to have been “previously used” and therefore ineligible to be claimed once you do start renting the property out. It’s not all bad news though, you can still claim on the Building Allowance, which for brand new property is usually quite substantial.
As for completing the depreciation schedule for a lower fee, there are three things we require you to provide:
The total construction cost or purchase price
Generally, a copy of your building contract will satisfy this requirement, although make sure to include any post-contract variations.
If you organised the build yourself, a spreadsheet of all the costs incurred is required (e.g. Council fees, architect fees, trade costs, appliances, finishings, etc).
If the property was purchased as a house and land package, and the developer did not provide a cost split between the house and the land, then the total purchase price will suffice.
Schedule of Finishes
Your builder will normally provide you with this before they commence construction. Often it is a document, around 10 pages long, listing all the inclusions the builder has agreed they will provide (sometimes with individual costs next to some of these inclusions).
For house and land packages, it is common for this list of inclusions to be displayed on just one or two pages.
Both types of schedule of finishes should include items such as the kitchen appliances, floor coverings, electrical fittings, air conditioning type, etc.
The final floor plans of your property are all we require for this step. However, if you have the electrical plan and/or floor coverings plan, they are often very useful too.
So, generally that’s all the extra information we require specifically for New Build properties. If you have further questions about any of these steps, or depreciation in general, email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our depreciation experts will help you out.
Whenever I am delivering a presentation or conducting a webinar, I always make sure to leave time for a 30 min Q&A session at the end.
In most Q&A sessions, the topic that by-far receives the most queries has to do with the concept of “scrapping” in relation to property tax depreciation.
Claiming the Residual Value on items that are about to removed can significantly increase your tax depreciation deductions. The problem is that many investors who renovate miss out on this due to a lack of awareness.
It’s important to understand the basics of property depreciation before diving into the subject of scrapping so, let’s have a quick re-cap into what property depreciation is all about.
What is Property Depreciation?
Just like you claim wear and tear on a car purchased for income producing purposes, you can also claim the depreciation of your investment property against your taxable income.
There are two types of depreciation allowances available: depreciation on Plant and Equipment Assets and the Capital Works deductions.
Depreciating Plant and Equipment Assets (Division 40) refers to items within the building like ovens, dishwashers, carpet & blinds etc.
(NOTE: Deductions for these plant and equipment items may only apply if you bought the property prior to May 9, 2017 – They’re values, however, can still be scrapped in full if removed or sold- Read about the Budget changes here).
Capital Works deductions (Division 43) refers to construction costs of the building itself, such as concrete and brickwork.
Whilst both of these costs can be offset against your assessable income, the property must be used for income-generating purposes. It is also important to note that to be eligible to claim on the Capital Works component, a residential property needs to have been built after the 18th of July 1985.
So what is scrapping and why is it a hot topic for property investors?
Put simply, scrapping is the ability to claim deductions on items within your investment property that you are about to throw away.
Engaging a qualified Quantity Surveying firm will ensure that you do not miss out on claiming any eligible residual value of these items as a depreciation deduction. This value can be claimed immediately in whole, once the items have been removed.
The reason it’s such a hot topic is due to the fact that these deductions can often add up to thousands of dollars.
There is one major caveat though. In order to claim the residual value on these items, your rental property must be producing an assessable income prior to the disposal.
There is no clear guideline on how long the property needs to be rented out for though, just that is was producing an assessable income.
There are two ways we can assess the scrapping allowances of an investment property.
Option 1 – Only depreciable assets can be scrapped
(This means the building was built before 1985 and no residual capital works deductions are available)
For Division 40 depreciable assets, if a taxpayer ceases to hold a depreciating asset (sold or destroyed) or ceases to use a depreciating asset (doesn’t need it anymore) a “balancing adjustment” will occur.
You work out the balancing adjustment amount by comparing the asset’s termination value (sales proceeds) and its adjustable value.
If the termination value is greater, you include the excess in your assessable income but if the termination value is less, you deduct the difference.
These deductions can add up quickly. Even if only in relation to depreciable assets.
Let’s crunch some numbers:
Joan Smith settles on a property for $650,000 on Oct 15 2015, the property had a long term tenant in place, who had agreed to stay for another 6 months. The property was 19.5 years old when she settled on it.
Washington Brown inspected the property on Oct 15 2015 and assigned the following values to the depreciable assets listed
Joan decides, voluntarily, to upgrade the apartment so that she can attract a higher quality tenant. At the end of the lease, when the tenant moved out, Joan replaced the items above.
Joan can claim the full depreciable amount of $4079 in her 2015/2016 tax return for these items that she is removing.
In addition, Joan has spent $8,555 replacing the items above, she can now start to claim these new items based upon their individual depreciation rate.
Option 2 – Depreciable Assets and & Capital Works deduction can be scrapped.
If you start moving walls or replacing kitchens in buildings built after 1987: your claim has the potential to be huge!
And let’s face it, it’s not that unusual to want to update a 20 year old kitchen.
Now let’s crunch the numbers on a situation where Joan renovated the kitchen and bathroom as well:
Capital Work item
Cost in 1995
Residual Value in 2015
Plumbing Bathroom & Kitchen
Electrical Bathroom & Kitchen
Tiling Kitchen & Bathroom
The items above have been depreciated at 2.5% per annum for 20 years. That equates to 50% left of the value that can be claimed as an immediate deduction when removed in 2016.
That’s the tidy sum of $15,816.00 as an immediate tax depreciation deduction!
One thing that needs to be considered when calculating the amount of deductions available, is whether you or another person was not allowed a deduction for capital works.
“It’s complicated” but here the method statement from the Income Tax Assessment ACT:
The amount of the balancing deduction
Step 1. Calculate the amount (if any) by which the * undeducted construction expenditure for the part of * your area that was destroyed exceeds the amounts you have received or have a right to receive for the destruction of that part.
Step 2. Reduce the amount at Step 1 if one or more of these happened to that part of * your area:
(a) Step 2 or 4 in section 43- 210, or Step 2 or 3 in section 43- 215, applied to you or another person for it;
(b) you were, or another person was, not allowed a deduction for it under this Division;
(c) a deduction for it was not allowed or was reduced (for you or another person) under former Division 10C or 10D of Part III of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 .
The reduction under this step must be reasonable.”
So in simple terms, you need to take into account any periods where Capital Works deductions could not be claimed and reduce that amount from any residual value left.
The last line is interesting, “The reduction under this step must be reasonable”.
I say interesting, because there are so many variables and not a lot of rulings to go by. But in my opinions here are some reasonable examples:
It would be reasonable to assume that if you purchased an industrial or commercial property, Capital Works deductions were available the whole time. So no allowance for non use would be required.
It would be reasonable to assume that if you purchased a serviced apartment, Capital Works deductions were available the whole time. So no allowance for non use would be required.
It would be reasonable to assume that if you purchased a unit in a ski resort, it was used, perhaps, for 2 weeks of the year for private use by the previous owner and you would need to factor that in.
It would be reasonable to assume that if you purchased a holiday house, in area where holiday lettings are common and that you saw the property listed on AIRBNB prior to your purchase and the holiday period was blocked out – then you should factor 2 weeks of private use per year into the equation.
Now the tricky one, you buy an average unit with a tenant in place. Who knows, it may have changed 5 times since it was new. I think it would be unreasonable for you to have to find out the full history of the unit. Privacy laws are very strict now, particularly in Victoria. So in that case, I would personally assume it was an investment property the whole time – but that’s me!!
One final thing you need to factor in, just to make life more complicated, is whether any amounts were received by way of insurance.
The termination value or residual value needs to include the amount received under an insurance policy.
So, if it is insured, there is often nothing to deduct when the asset is lost or destroyed.
As you have probably gathered by now, claiming the residual value on depreciating assets and capital works deductions “is complicated”.
I would recommend speaking with your accountant or financial advisor prior to engaging a Quantity Surveyor to carry out a scrapping schedule. If you are going to proceed with this type of report, it is advantageous to have the quantity surveyor visit the property prior to you starting renovations.
Washington Brown has crunched the numbers on The Block’s latest development in Melbourne’s inner-city bayside suburb of Port Melbourne, and something just doesn’t add up.
From a financial point of view the development, which consisted of transforming a 1920s art deco building into a luxury apartment block, was one of the worst he has ever seen.
While I understand the magic of television, Channel 9 has outdone David Copperfield in creating the illusion of a profit to the public!
Let’s look at the numbers:
According to reports Channel 9 bought the site for around $5 million, which allowed for 6 apartments. Only 5 were sold on TV and for calculation purposes let’s say the acquisition costs is $4.2 million.
The construction cost and depreciation allowances totalled over $11 million, for the 5 apartments alone.
That’s $15.2 million alone in construction and acquisition costs.
It’s worth noting that under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 the initial vendor (ie. the developer) has an obligation to pass on the actual costs of construction to the purchaser, where the costs are known.
Let’s not forget there’s then a variety of other costs involved in buying and selling, and undertaking a property development, including:
GST on the sale
Whilst some of these costs may have been avoided due to contra deals, the bulk would have to be outlaid by Channel 9.
I estimate these additional costs to conservatively be $2 million, which brings the total cost to $17.2 million.
The Block’s total sales realised just a little over $12 million, leaving the development in the red by around $5 million, yet it has been indicated that profits of up to $715,000 were made by the contestants.
That something David Copperfield would be in awe of.
You know it’s thepeak of the market when reality TV shows are pulling rabbits out of a hat to show a profit.
Whilst the contestants may have walked away with some ‘profit’, if the numbers are to be believed as shown on the show that development was a stinker.
The worry is these shows give an unrealistic expectation to would be budding renovators.
What does Trump’s election victory mean for Aussie real estate?
Since the US election, there’s been endless speculation about what the win from Donald Trump will mean for not only the US, but other countries around the globe.
Would you believe that the predictions for Australia’s property market range from doom and gloom through to uplifting and very positive, including that property prices could rise, property prices could fall, there could be a recession…
But the key here is that it’s all speculation. What will really happen remains unknown, particularly since Trump’s policies seem to be subject to change and we don’t know what will actually be implemented until he’s in office next year. In fact, he probably doesn’t know himself!
Let’s look at the positive vs. negative case
‘The Donald’s’ election win scared investors and sent shockwaves through the share market, with $32.5 billion wiped from the ASX. It quickly rebounded, however, with more than $50 billion added the following day, the best session since 2011.
Did the confidence of real estate investors take a hit too? Since the real estate market doesn’t see the impact of these events until further down the track, we don’t yet know. However, in the initial aftermath of the election, there has been a case put forward that Trump’s win could actually benefit our market.
It’s all to do with confidence and sentiment. The big positive for Australia in all of this could be an increase in foreign investment. Our country is seen as a safe-haven in the midst of global volatility, which could lead to greater demand for property and hence, push up housing prices.
Some commentators suggest demand from foreign investors could come from the United States itself, with its citizens choosing to either relocate elsewhere (although this is unlikely – just think of all the celebrities who have already reneged on their promises to leave the US!) or simply invest their money in a country they consider to be safer than their own. The US is already one of the biggest sources of foreign investment in Australia’s property market.
Chinese investment in our real estate market is also likely to rise. The case is already pretty compelling for Chinese investors to move their money here; irrespective of Donald Trump they love buying Australian real estate. Australia has long been seen as a safe-haven for Chinese capital. Despite measures introduced to curb foreign investment, Chinese investors continue to buy Australian real estate in large quantities, lured by not only the perceived security of our market but by factors including our lifestyle and great schools. In this sense, the Trump phenomenon could just be another factor strengthening their desire to invest in Australian real estate.
While some Chinese investors seem to indicate they don’t care about Donald Trump and his election to the US presidency, there is an argument that he has “declared war” with China, with promises to tighten trade agreements and increase tariffs on goods imported from China into the United States.
Some economists have argued that Trump’s trade policies could have a very detrimental impact on the global economy, potentially leading the Australian economy into a recession, negatively impacting upon the share market and the property market, which is where price fall predictions come in.
It seems interest rate predictions have already changed since Trump’s election; prior to it there was an expectation of another fall in the cash rate, but now an upward move appears more likely, as Trump’s trade policies could cause global inflation to climb. Combined with a weakened Australian dollar, this could provide an impetus for the RBA to increase the base rate.
Trump’s real estate interests
Let’s not forget Donald Trump is a real estate tycoon with property developments around the globe. He has built office and residential towers, hotels, casinos and golf courses around the world, perhaps surprisingly, he has towers in countries including Turkey, Panama, India, the Philippines and Uruguay.
While post-election Trump has said he now doesn’t care about his business empire, the fact remains that he clearly has a vested interest in real estate and keeping property markets around the world buoyant – at least where he has properties!
It will, of course, have to be balanced by his responsibilities as the leader of the free world and his determination to do what’s best for the US and its citizens.
Other interesting snippets about Donald Trump and property include:
Trump is reportedly committed to bringing regulatory relief to the financial services industry in the US, which could make credit more readily available and increase activity.
Infrastructure is expected to be central to his administration’s policy agenda, which could benefit the property market.
Despite a lot of hostility towards the incoming president, Trump-branded properties are reportedly thriving and likely to grow even further in value after his election win, with greater buyer demand. The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago are said to have increased 25% to 75% in value and in New York the tower reportedly increased in value by around 200% since he was elected.
Remember it’s all about hypotheticals at the moment
We can all sit here and make claims about what Trump’s presidency will mean for Australia’s real estate market, but the reality is that we don’t know. It’s all speculation, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there too. What will really happen will only be determined in time.
At the end of the day, the fallout will be all about confidence and sentiment. IT will come down to whether people have the confidence to continue investing in the share market versus property, and in the US versus other countries that are perceived to be safer.
It also depends on whether Australians have the confidence to keep investing in Australian real estate. Unless a recession hits, it’s likely they will. Why? Because of the fundamentals supporting our real estate market, including population growth, a stable economy, a strong banking system with tight lending restrictions, and a shortage of properties in some areas.
Any deterioration in confidence will likely be short-lived, just like Brexit.
As time goes on the initial shock will subside. The protests will eventually come to an end, and it’s likely Trump’s presidency will be more measured than people expect. Which should translate to sentiment being restored in the long term.
Property prices in the UK have indeed defied all the naysayers’ post-Brexit, being up by 7.7% over the past year according to the latest figures.
With everything being just predictions and speculation, how about we add another to the mix: Maybe the best course of action is to go and buy some shares in Boral so you can benefit when the wall is built along the Mexican border?
Claiming depreciation is one of the most important steps in an investor’s journey. Here’s my Top 5 Tax Depreciation tips to maximise the return on your investment property.
Number 1: Use an Experienced Quantity Surveyor
You’ve just paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for a property. Do you really want to risk missing out on tens of thousands of dollars in deductions just to save a couple of hundred tax deductible dollars on the ONLY tax break available to you that can be open to interpretation and skill?
The ATO has identified quantity surveyors such as Washington Brown as appropriately qualified to estimate the original construction costs in cases where that figure is unknown. The laws have also changed frequently over the years and each building is unique, so it pays to get expert advice. The ATO requires all companies who prepare Tax Depreciation Schedules to be registered Tax Agents.
Number 2: Claiming the Residual Value Write Off
I believe millions of dollars will be missed over the coming years in tax depreciation claims due to changes in what can be defined as ‘plant and equipment’.
If you are renovating a kitchen or bathroom in a property built after 1985 – get a quantity surveyor in before you demolish so they can assess what the residual value of the existing items are. This residual value can be claimed as an outright deduction and can generate huge savings in the first year (The plant and equipment component of this may now be considered a capital loss rather than deduction from your personal income taxes due to recent Budget changes).
For instance, a rental property with a 20 year-old kitchen could possibly attract an immediate deduction of around $5,000 if removed.
The added bonus is that you get to claim depreciation on the new work once it is complete too!
A dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow so deduct items as quickly as possible.
Individual items under $300 can be written off immediately. An important thing to remember here is that provided your portion is under $300 you can still write it off.
For instance, say an electric motor to the garage door cost an apartment block $2000. If there are 50 units in the block, your portion is $40. You can claim that $40 outright – as your portion is under $300. You can also try to buy items that depreciate faster such as purchasing a microwave that costs $295 as opposed to one that costs $320.
Items between $300 and $1000 fall into the Low Pool Category and attract a higher depreciation rate. So for instance, a $1200 television attracts a 20% deduction whilst a $950 television deducts at 37.5% per annum.
Number 4: Old Properties Depreciate too
Even properties built before 1985 (when the building allowance kicked in) are worth depreciating.
The purchase price of your property includes the Land, Building and the Plant and Equipment. As a quantity surveyor we help you apportion or break down the purchase price into those categories.
In about 99% of cases we find enough plant and equipment items to justify the expense of engaging our firm (for ‘Pre-Budget’ properties). At Washington Brown we guarantee to save you twice the fee of engagement or your report will be free!
The saying goes “if only I knew then what I know now!” When it comes to depreciation, you can. Investors can use our website, free of charge, and get an instant estimate of the likely tax depreciation deductions on a property before they buy it.
This calculator uses real life data collated from every inspection we do on behalf of our clients. So the data gets more accurate with time.
Building consultancy services help investors and developers recognise, maintain and increase their property’s value, while helping to minimise their risk. Building consultancy services include:
Technical due diligence reports
Make good schedules
Condition schedules and condition surveys
Contract administration services
Reinstatement cost assessments
Building pathology and defects analysis
Access audits and OH&S assessments
Capital expenditure and maintenance reports
A good quantity surveying firm will also advise on all matters relating to property development and occupation in conjunction with other in-house teams and client-appointed consultants.
Property Type: Healthcare Clinic
Location: North Sydney
Service: Capital Expenditure Plan (CAPEX)
A private hospital contracted Washington Brown to undertake a 15-year Capital Expenditure Plan (CAPEX) of their newly-built specialist clinic and research and development facilities. The private hospital had leased the building to numerous medical consultants via a Service Level Agreement and was pro-active enough to ensure that the building would be maintained in the future by working out the cost of future maintenance and thus charging the tenants a nominal amount yearly.
Washington Brown reviewed the entire asset which included the building fabric, building structure and all the services within the six storey (including a two-storey below ground car park) building. We took into account the high usage areas, life span of components, potential problematic areas, general wear and tear, etc., to create a year-by-year spreadsheet, together with a summary page of all capital expenditure costs and a total cost over the 15-year period.
This allowed our client to determine the service charge levy that they should be charging each tenant, depending on the size of their tenancy. By providing a copy of our report to the tenants, our client could demonstrate the future capital works that were planned and the costs attached to these works.
The report reassured our client that there would be sufficient funds to maintain the building to its current high standard of finish, and ensure the electrical and mechanical services would be functioning as intended. The tenants were also reassured that the landlord would be maintaining the building and that there would not be any demands for high costs from their landlord in the future.
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Learn how to stay under the ATO’s radar by watching this video
A depreciation schedule on your investment property can generate significant tax savings – as long as it has been complied correctly.
In my experience there are three areas the ATO tends to target come tax time.
One of them is whether you’ve claimed repairs and maintenance correctly. This can be tricky.
Your property must also be income producing in order to claim depreciation.
For instance, if you make a repair while living in the property, then move out 2 months later, you can’t claim it.
The third area of concern is in relation to the building allowance.
The building allowance refers to the wear and tear on the actual building – things like bricks and concrete. You have to make sure they’re being claimed in the right category and not alongside items like carpets and blinds, which are considered plant and equipment.
The building depreciation allowance must also be claimed on construction costs – NOT the purchase price of your property. A mistake I see time and time again.
And that’s where we can help. Quantity Surveyors are recognised by the Australian Tax Office as the right people to estimate these costs. NOT valuers nor real estate agents.
So there you have it. To stay under the ATO’s radar, make sure:
Your repairs are being claimed correctly
The property is an income producing asset
The building allowance is based on the construction cost.
And most importantly, use a qualified quantity surveyor.
If you need a depreciation schedule for your investment property – get a quote here or work out how much you can save using our free calculator.
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