The 6 must-know takeaways from these budget changes:
- For residential property, you will only be able to claim depreciation on plant and equipment items (ovens, dishwashers etc.) when you buy a brand new property.
- You will still be able to claim the building allowance (bricks, concrete etc.) on any residential property built after 1987.
- If you bought a property built prior to The Budget on the 9th of May, 2017 when the changes were announced, you are not affected in the slightest.
- There is no change at all to commercial or other non-residential property.
- If you personally buy any item for your property after the settlement you can still claim the depreciation on that particular item.
- Perhaps the most interesting point: Whilst 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, by claiming any unclaimed depreciation as a capital loss.
Moving forward, property investors will have a choice of ordering a building allowance report only, a CGT schedule or a combination, from Washington Brown.
On Friday 14th July, the Treasury Office released a draft bill regarding how depreciation deductions on a second-hand property can be claimed moving forward. They also invited interested parties to make submissions.
It’s complicated, to say the least, so I’ve tried to simplify this Bill and the key points. Here are my 9 Key Takeaways from the Legislation;
- If you acquire a second-hand residential property after May 10, 2017, which contains “previously used” depreciating assets, you will no longer be able to claim depreciation on those assets.
- Acquirers of brand new property will carry on claiming depreciation exactly the way they have done so to date. This is great news for the property industry and the way it should be.
We suspected this would be the case and I believe the property industry can collectively breathe a sigh of relief.
- The proposed changes only relate to residential property. Commercial, industrial, retail and other non-residential properties are not affected in the slightest.
- 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. This component typically represents approximately between 80 to 85 percent of the construction cost of a property.
- 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.
This is interesting and I suspect a lot more people will start buying properties in company tax structures.
- If you engage a builder to build a house and it remains an investment property, you will still be able to claim depreciation on both the structure and the Plant and Equipment items.
- If you renovate a property that is being used as an investment, you will still be able to claim depreciation on it when you have finished the renovations.
- If you renovate a house, whilst living it in, then sell the property to an investor, the asset will be deemed to have been previously used and the new owner cannot claim depreciation.
- Perhaps the most interesting point: Whilst 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, in summary, what you would’ve been able to claim in depreciation under the previous legislation, now simply gets taken off the sale price in the event you sell the property in the future.
Here is an example of how this will work:
Peter buys a property in September 2017 for $600k, included within the property was $25k worth of previously used depreciating assets.
As they were previously used, Peter can’t claim depreciation on those items.
Peter sells the property in 2022 for $800k, which included $15k worth of those depreciation assets.
Peter can now claim a capital loss of $10k ($25k-$15k) for the portion that Peter has not claimed in depreciation.
SUMMARY OF THE PROPOSED CHANGES
In my view, the Draft Bill could’ve been a lot worse for both the property industry and the Quantity Surveying professions.
It will certainly address the integrity measure concern of stopping “refreshed” valuations of plant and equipment by property investors.
It may, however, create a two-tier property market in relation to New and Second-hand property.
You can see the ads now “Buy Brand New – We’ve Got The Depreciation Allowances”.
It will still be just as critical for all property investors to get a breakdown of the building allowance & plant and equipment values so you can:
- Claim the building allowance (where applicable) and
- Reduce the CGT payable when selling the property by deducting the unclaimed Plant and Equipment allowances.
The Quantity Surveying industry, just like the property development industry just breathed a huge sigh of relief.
I believe this integrity measure could’ve been better addressed and will be making a submission accordingly.
But it wasn’t a bad ‘first run’ by the Government!
P.S. If you purchased an investment property prior to The Budget, and it’s been an investment property the whole time, you are not affected and you should get a depreciation schedule quote now.
The property market is currently in a state of limbo, particularly those involved in the selling of new property.
Because budget statement in relation to helping “reduce pressure on housing affordability” has potentially changed the game and announced dramatic changes to the way depreciation is claimed on property.
Let’s start with the good news:
- Any existing investment properties purchased (contract exchange date) prior to 7.30pm Tuesday, May 9th 2017 are not affected (unless they were not income producing in the 2016/2017 financial year – read more about the updated Budget changes here).
- Commercial, industrial and other non-residential properties are not affected.
- Capital works deductions have not been affected. This means you will still be able to claim depreciation on the structure of the building provided it was built after the 16th of September 1987. You will still need a Quantity Surveyor’s depreciation schedule to do so.
Now that we know what isn’t affected, let’s look at what has changed…
According to the budget statement
“From 1 July 2017, the Government will limit plant and equipment depreciation deductions to outlays actually incurred by investors in residential real estate properties. Plant and equipment items are usually mechanical fixtures or those which can be ‘easily’ removed from a property such as dishwashers and ceiling fans.”
Here’s the uncertainty….who actually acquired the plant of equipment?
Was it the builder/developer or was it the initial purchaser of the brand new residential property?
This is key.
Why is the government making these changes?
“This is an integrity measure to address concerns that some plant and equipment items are being depreciated by successive investors in excess of their actual value.
Acquisitions of existing plant and equipment items will be reflected in the cost base for capital gains tax purposes for subsequent investors.”
The industry needs urgent clarification on this matter! Why? Because many agents are currently advising potential buyers on the cashflow advantages of new property. This figures may prove to be inflated and put the developer or marketer at risk further down the line.
You see investors rely on these figures in assessing the merits of the investment.
Here is why I think this is dumb policy.
The proposed changes are being made to “reduce pressure on housing affordability”. In my opinion, it will have the opposite effect for 3 reasons:
- Property investors may now feel they need to hang on to their existing properties in order to continue claiming depreciation. With these new changes, if they sell this property, they won’t be able to get anywhere near as many deductions on the next one.
- Developers rely on high depreciation figures in the early years to show investors how affordable an investment property can be. If the allowances are taken away, they will struggle to get the pre-sales which are required by banks to fund the deal.
- These budget measures are forecast to save $260 million over a 3 year period. I suspect far more will be lost if developers can no longer get new projects off the ground.
Whilst I believe housing affordability is a major issue, this truly appears to be an example of policy on the run…
Here’s the solution:
Plant and Equipment in residential property needs to run it’s natural course.
The ability to re-value and re-assess the item after it’s initial effective life has run it’s course should be squashed.
Put simply, if you a buy a property that is say, 11 years old, and it has a dishwasher installed that had an initial effective life of say 10 years you can’t claim it, revalue or re-assess it.
That would alleviate the government’s concern that:
“….that some plant and equipment items are being depreciated by successive investors in excess of their actual value. “
This would make a lot more sense in my opinion
I am looking forward to providing a further update once the legislation is finalised and I will give more details regarding the specifics of these changes when they come to light.