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.
What is Property Depreciation?
So, what counts as depreciation for your investment property in Australia?
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.
You Could Use Your SMSF to Save on Your Tax Bill
You can use a SMSF (self-managed superannuation fund) to buy an investment property in Australia. However, this has previously been quite difficult. Many lenders would not allow SMSFs to borrow money, which means they had to fund the full purchase themselves.
However, that changed after the 2017 Budget. Now, a self-managed super fund can borrow the money needed to fund the purchase of an investment property in Australia. As a result, those who previously couldn’t afford to use their SMSFs to buy an investment property in Australia now have a pathway to do so.
The first thing to remember is that you shouldn’t set up a SMSF solely to buy a property. However, having it available makes sense for a lot of small business owners. After all, a business owner can occupy the SMSF’s investment property in Australia, as long as they use it for business purposes.
However, managing an SMSF takes a lot of time and hard work. To help you along, we’re going to show you some of the secrets of using an SMSF for property investment.
You’ll need some money in your SMSF before you can use it to buy an investment property in Australia. How much will depend on your situation, but as a rough guide you should aim to have $200,000 available.
This will help you to cover the deposit and the fees associated with taking out a home loan. Furthermore, you’ll probably have some money left over for diversification. This is important, as investing only in property could come back to bite you if the market crashes.
The funds should come from every SMSF member. You don’t have to fund the entire thing yourself.
Know How Much You Can Borrow
Most lenders are still quite wary of lending to SMSFs. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, as many have only just started doing so following the 2017 budget. As a result, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to secure a home loan with a loan to value ratio (LVR) above 80% of the home value.
In fact, most lenders prefer to offer 50% LVR on SMSF loans. Having a 50% deposit available for your investment property in Australia increases the lender’s confidence and puts the property closer to being positively geared.
Of course, you need to make repayments on the home loan once you’ve secured it. This is where the self managed super fund can really help an investor. You can use your super contributions, which you can deduct from your taxes, to make the repayments. The same goes for any rent or other payments that the SMSF receives.
As a result, you often won’t need to spend any of your own money to repay the home loan. Better yet, you can deduct quite a large portion of the repayments from your tax bill. Of course, it’s best to work with a tax professional to ensure you set up the correct structure for this.
The Tax Benefits
Let’s look at the tax benefits of buying an investment property in Australia using an SMSF in more detail. For one, the fund only has to pay a maximum tax rate of 15% on any income the property generates.
However, the bigger benefits come if you choose to sell the property. Assuming the SMSF has held the property for at least one year, you only have two-thirds of the capital gains tax (CGT) you would have paid on a property you personally own.
Better yet, both of these tax contributions disappear if the SMSF keeps the property until its members start claiming their retirement pensions. As a result, retired SMSF members can benefit from the property’s income, without having to pay any tax. They also receive larger lump sums if the SMSF sells the property because they don’t have to pay CGT.
Can Everybody Do It?
Property investing using an SMSF sounds appealing, and it can provide you with a lot of benefits. However, it’s not for everybody.
As mentioned earlier, you should avoid using your SMSF to invest in property if it doesn’t have a large sum of cash available. Diversification is crucial when investing, so you don’t want to be in a situation where your SMSF relies only on the property’s income. A lost tenant or property market crash could cause major problems.
Furthermore, those on low incomes should think twice about investing using an SMSF. Remember that you have to make regular SMSF contributions. These contributions benefit you when it comes to your taxes, but they’re also long-term benefits. You may struggle in the short term if you don’t have the money to make regular SMSF contributions.
After an early wake up on Sunday to watch the Wallabies have a brilliant victory over our old nemesis, England (commiserations guys) I was drinking my 3rd coffee of the morning and in a euphoric haze I starting to wonder to myself, how many teams are playing in this tournament?
It turns out there are 20 teams competing in England at the Rugby World Cup, however, as my mind rambled, counting which countries are included I dozed, and somehow drifted onto how many countries Washington Brown have prepared depreciation reports for over the last few years (because everything relates back to work, right?). It turns out, we have carried out property depreciation reports for a whopping 29 different countries to date, and by the end of the week that number will increase to 30! Go us!
The scope of work we are currently experiencing is really interesting from a Quantity Surveying perspective and is becoming increasingly varied, from apartments and houses in the UK and USA, multi million dollar villas in Monaco, ski chalets in Bulgaria, and even blocks of apartments in Iran.
Our clients also vary from new migrants renting out their former homes, Self-Managed Super Fund Trustees looking to spread risk, ex pats coming to work in Australia, or returning home from overseas posting, as well as mum and dad investors expanding their investment portfolio.
To me this really reinforces the global economy we now live in, and what a wonderful diverse melting pot of nationalities Australia is made up of.
If you have bought an overseas investment property, or you migrated to Australia and are now having to declare your rental income on a property you still own in your home country to the ATO, you might be entitled to claim depreciation on any overseas property you still hold and reduce your taxable income.
When claiming on an overseas investment property you need to be aware that there are some differences to Australian investment properties in regards to ATO rulings.
Three of these differences are:
- The building allowance component is only applicable for residential properties built after 1990, not 1987 as it is for Australian residential investment properties. (NB.all investment properties qualify for plant and equipment component)
- Construction costs vary from country to country and in in our reports are estimated at the local rates, not Australian rates. We then convert into Australian currency at the prescribed ATO exchange rate
- Just like in Australia, overseas investment properties start depreciating from the date you take ownership. However you can only claim tax deduction from the time you became an Australian tax payer, so it’s important to provide this information before proceeding to ensure it is worthwhile for you to have a report completed.
If you’re unsure if your property qualifies for depreciation allowances, or whether you have owned it too long to be eligible to claim depreciation deductions, give one our tax depreciation specialists a call and we can talk through your investment scenario to see if there is a benefit in having a report prepared.
Click here to get a Property Depreciation Quote
Property Investment Tips
How to save THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS a year on your investment property taxes with these 7 Property Depreciation Tips!
Depreciation can still be a bit of a mystery to even the most experienced of property investors. To novice property investors it most certainly always is.
To simplify depreciation, basically, it allows you to claim the wear and tear of an investment property as a tax deduction against your income.
There are two components to this claim; Building Allowance (bricks, concrete, etc.) and Plant & Equipment (carpets, ovens, etc.).
(UPDATE: Deductions for plant and equipment items may only apply to commercial properties, brand new properties, if you bought the property prior to May 9, 2017, or some other exceptions – Read about the Budget changes here).
As Quantity Surveyors, we categorise elements of the building into a “Depreciation Schedule” which allows you to legally claim the right deductions come tax time.
Well here are seven tips you may want to consider this tax year to increase the yield on your investment property:
- Small Items and Low-Value Pooling – 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.So if you are buying a microwave for your property – pay $290 instead of $310 and get the full amount written off!You can also try to buy items that depreciate faster. Items between $300 and $1000 fall into the Low Pool Category and attract a higher depreciation rate.So for instance, a $1200 oven attracts a 20% deduction while a $950 TV deducts at 37.5% per annum.
- Depreciation reports are tax deductible – Book and pay for a depreciation report before the 30th of June, and you can claim the cost of the report as an outright deduction.On average, property investors can claim between $4,000 to $15,000 in depreciation in the first year alone. The age of the property has a lot to do with why that range is so great. The newer the property, generally, the more depreciation you get.
- Renovated properties – You can buy a property that might be over 100 years old…and provided it’s been renovated after 1987 you can claim the costs of those renovations. So even if you didn’t do the renovation, the deductions are there for the taking!
- Older properties – It’s true that new properties get the maximum depreciation allowance available to property investors, but don’t discount old properties. The minimum depreciation allowance on any property starts at around $2,000 in the first year alone.
- Scrapping reports – If you buy a property and are going to renovate the property, it’s worth getting a Quantity Surveyor like Washington Brown to inspect the property BEFOREHAND. We will attribute values to those items that are about to be removed. This can add up to a substantial amount, especially if the property was built after September 1987. In order to do this, the property has to be income-producing prior to the commencement of the renovation.
- Old properties depreciate too – In order to claim the Building Allowance the property needs to be built after September 1987. But, you could still claim depreciation on things likes carpets, ovens and blinds – regardless of the age (if unaffected by the 2017 Budget). Most Quantity Surveying firms guarantee to get you at least twice their fee as a tax deduction in the first year or give you the report for free.
- Backdating reports – If you haven’t claimed depreciation because you didn’t know about it – there is good news. You can go back and amend your previous two tax returns and get the missing deductions backdated. It will cost you in accounting fees, but could well be worth it.
If you are a property investor and don’t have a depreciation schedule – get a free quote here.
Or use our free calculator to work out for yourself how much you could be saving!