Property depreciation is a legal tax deduction related to the ‘wear and tear’ of an investment property over time. A tax depreciation schedule outlines the deductions you may be entitled to claim each year of ownership on the Building Allowance (the structure itself including bricks, concrete, etc.) and, if eligible, on the Plant and Equipment items (internal items like ovens, carpets, blinds, etc).
As with any tax deduction, claiming property depreciation reduces your taxable income. That means more money in your pocket to reinvest or to spend on yourself or on your family.
A depreciation schedule from Washington Brown is a fully-comprehensive, ATO-compliant report that helps you pay less in tax. The amount the depreciation schedule says you can claim effectively reduces your taxable income because it’s taking into account how much it costs you to own and maintain the property.
While you may be used to claiming on such items as council rates or property management fees where you have paid money towards an item or service, depreciation is a “non-cash deduction.” This is because it’s the ONLY deduction that you don’t have to pay for on an ongoing basis – its already ‘built’ into the purchase price of the property.
Let me introduce you to our new product, the CGT Saver™ Report – A report specifically created to prevent our clients from paying too much in Capital Gains Tax.
Although you can no-longer claim depreciation on second-hand Plant & Equipment Items (ovens, dishwashers, etc.), with Washington Brown’s CGT Saver™, you can claim the applicable and documented value as a capital loss if you remove or replace any of these in the future.
Similarly, using this report, if you were to sell a second-hand property with those items still intact, what you would have been able to claim in depreciation in the past, you can now claim as a capital loss which reduces your capital gains tax bill.
This report lists and values all those included items that you have purchased at settlement. It then allows you to claim a capital loss straight away if any of these items are removed.
The best bit…This loss can offset other share &/or property gains that you might make.
This report is exclusive to Washington Brown, so ask for it by name and contact us to find out more.
Let’s talk about bricks and mortar. Or what the Government calls the Building Allowance.
Whilst you can no longer claim depreciation on plant and equipment in second-hand investment properties, that’s the things like ovens, dishwasher etc.
You can still claim the structure of the building, that’s the bricks, concrete, windows, tiling, etc. provided the residential property was built after 1987.
And these costs typically represent about 85% of the construction cost of the property.
And that’s good news, but I want to turn it into great news!
Up until now, when you ordered a depreciation report, quantity surveyors give you a lump sum total for your building allowance, based on the government’s guidelines that these items last approximately 40 years.
But in our experience, that’s not true.
Investors tend to update things like kitchens and bathrooms every 20 years.
So Washington Brown has come up with the Building Allowance Maximiser report, and it’s the only one of its kind.
What it does, it splits the building allowance into different categories, based upon our research of what items wear and tear more quickly.
Which means, if you use our report, when you replace those items or update them, you’ll be able to claim the full amount as an immediate tax deduction.
Let’s say I bought a property 20 years ago, with a kitchen that cost $10,000 to build.
Now, because it’s halfway through its 40-year life, I’ve only claimed 50% of its depreciation, which is $5000.
When I remove it today, using Washington Brown’s new report, I’ll be able to claim the remaining 50% as an immediate tax deduction.
Depreciation and Natural Disasters: Everything You Need To Know
A natural disaster could have a devastating effect on your investment property in Australia. You may need to get a new depreciation schedule to account for any repairs you make. Here’s what you need to know.
You cannot underestimate the effects natural disasters can have on an investment property. Australia deals with such disasters, and other issues, on a near-yearly basis. If such an issue affects your property, you may have to undergo a period of rebuilding. You’ll need to replace any assets you’ve lost, and possibly renovate or rebuild parts of your investment property in Australia.
This could make you wonder how natural disasters affect your rental property depreciation rates. On the one hand, you may have to pay out of pocket to bring your property back up to code. After all, your insurance policy may not cover unforeseen circumstances. On the other hand, any improvements you make to the property improve its value. Your construction work could allow you to make more tax deductions. Australia has various regulations that ensure full compliance in such situations.
There are three situations you may find yourself in following a natural disaster. You’ll usually have to do at least one of the following:
Repair any damaged assets
Replace damaged assets that you cannot repair
Improve or upgrade an asset in the wake of the disaster
You must approach each situation differently to maximise your ability to claim depreciation. Let’s look at each individually.
Repairing Your Assets
Repairing an asset involves any work you undertake to bring the asset back to its original condition. This generally includes minor work only.
If you make any improvements to the asset, you cannot claim it as a repair. This includes any physical changes to its appearance, or altering the asset’s functionality. These are upgrades, and you must treat them as such.
So, what can you claim for when repairing an asset? It differs depending on whether you have insurance.
If you have insurance, you can claim for the cost of repairing the asset. However, you must also declare any sum you received from your insurance policy. This will have a direct effect on your tax deductions. Australia does not allow you to claim the full cost of the repair if you have insurance.
However, those without insurance can claim the full cost. This is because you won’t have received any help in making the repair.
Replacing Your Assets
On the face of it, replacing an asset seems simple. If you can’t repair your previous asset, you must purchase a replacement. You can then claim for this replacement on your tax returns.
However, the issue of improvement comes into play again. The asset you purchase must have the same specifications and functionality as the damaged asset. Any improvements move the asset into the final category, which changes how you claim for it. Simply put, if the replacement isn’t like-for-like, it’s an improvement.
If you have insurance, you have to make several adjustments to your depreciation report. You have to account for both Capital Allowance, and Individual Depreciable Assets.
Those without insurance must scrap the depreciation value of the previous asset. Replace this with the new forecast for the replacement asset.
Making Improvements or Upgrades
Anything that improves the original asset is either an improvement or an upgrade. This includes changes to appearance and functionality. You may also have to claim on the asset as an upgrade if it has different specifications to the original asset.
So, how do you handle the depreciation? If you have insurance, you take the same action as you would when replacing an asset. Adjust your depreciation report to account for the Capital Allowance. Don’t forget the Individual Depreciable Assets either.
If you haven’t got insurance, you must get arrange a new depreciation forecast for your improved asset.
Working with a Quantity Surveyor
In all cases, work with a Quantity Surveyor to make your adjustments. These professionals will help you to forecast your depreciation tax deductions. Australia is home to many Quantity Surveyors, so do some research before selecting somebody.
The role your Quality Surveyor plays depends on your previous actions. If you had your property assessed before the disaster, your surveyor will make minor adjustments to your previous report. This costs less than a full report.
However, you will need a full depreciation report if you didn’t already have one. This takes some more time and money. However, the report will ensure that you claim all the depreciation you’re eligible for.
The Final Word
A Quantity Surveyor can help you to maximise your depreciation claims after a natural disaster. Arrange a survey as soon as possible to ensure you don’t lose more money than you have to.
Washington Brown maintains a team of expert Quantity Surveyors. Contact us today to find out more.
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.
Do I Face Construction Restrictions?
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.
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.
You Can Claim Tax Deductions in Australia for Previous Renovations
When considering tax deductions in Australia, most investors only take their own renovations into account. It does make sense. After all, why should you be eligible to claim deductions on your investment property in Australia if you didn’t pay for the work?
Perhaps surprisingly, you can claim deductions for the previous owner’s renovations. However, there are several things you need to consider. For example, how much you can claim depends on when you purchased the property. The effects of the 2017 Budget play a role here, as what you can claim differs depending on if you made your purchase before or after the budget. Let’s look at what tax deductions in Australia you can claim in both scenarios.
You Bought Before the 2017 Budget
Things are simpler if you bought the property before the 2017 Budget. If this is the case, you can make claims under both Division 43 and Division 40 of the Income Tax Assessment Act (ITAA).
Division 43 relates to any capital works that the previous owner undertook on the property. This includes any renovations, such as the building of some extensions or remodelling a bathroom or kitchen. It also covers any work done to the building’s structure. For example, you’d be able to claim for a new roof or for some of the walls that the previous owner built.
Division 40 relates to the equipment installed in the property. Your investment property in Australia may have an air conditioning unit or some other piece of equipment that the previous owner installed. If that’s the case, you should be able to claim for it.
The only real barrier is that you may not know the completion date for the work or the cost. Not all sellers will provide you with this information. If that’s the case, you need to employ the services of a quantity surveyor. Your surveyor will provide you with a cost estimate, which you can use when claiming tax deductions in Australia. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) does not accept estimates from other professionals. For example, you can’t get an estimate from your accountant for the work. It has to come from a quantity surveyor.
You Bought After the 2017 Budget
This is where things get more complicated. You have to consider the extent of the renovation work, as well as whether any was carried out in the first place.
The new budget introduced the term “new residential premises” into the equation. To understand what this phrase means, we need to look at the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act.
What Does the GST Act Say
You’ll find references to “new residential premises” in sections 40 to 75 in the GST Act. Generally, such a premises is one that has not been rented out or sold as a residential home before your purchase. This won’t usually present a problem. After all, that language basically covers new properties.
However, there’s more. The Act also defines these premises as those that have undergone “substantial renovation” work. The GST Act also provides a description for “substantial renovations”. They are any renovations through which the entire building has either been replaced or removed. As a result, the installation of a new bathroom is not considered as a substantial renovation on its own.
What Does This Mean for Me?
If your investment property in Australia does not fall into the substantial renovations category, you may not be able to claim the same deductions that you could on a property built before the 2017 Budget. In particular, you won’t be able to claim Division 40 depreciation. New equipment on its own is not enough to constitute a substantial renovation.
However, this changes if the building has undergone enough renovation to become a “new residential premises”. In such cases, you can claim for both Division 43 and Division 40 work.
You’ll need the help of a quantity surveyor to work out the extent of the work undertaken on your building. Your surveyor will create a timeline for the building. This will estimate the work carried out, its cost and its extent. You can use this information to figure out if your building falls into the “new residential premises” category.
Don’t fret if it doesn’t. You can still claim for Division 43 work. Your quantity surveyor will be able to provide more exact information detailing exactly what you can claim for.
You’ll need the services of a quantity surveyor, regardless of when your property was built. They will be able to tell you what previous renovations you can claim for.
We can help you if you’re looking for a quantity surveyor. Contact us today to maximise the depreciation on your property’s previous owner’s renovations.
The fee you’ll pay for a depreciation schedule will vary. For example, you may pay anywhere between $275 and $800 for the report. This is a fairly standard price for an established residential home. All these properties aren’t brand new. This usually means you’ve purchased it from another investor or a former owner-occupier.
What causes this variances in price? It usually comes down to the quality of the service that the quantity surveyor provides. Paying less may mean that you save money in the short-term. However, it could also result in you claiming fewer tax deductions in Australia for your investment property in Australia.
The Timeline Process
You’ll need a depreciation schedule for any established investment property in Australia. This allows you to create a timeline that contains details about the property’s history. These details usually include information about the property’s renovation work. Either you or the previous owner may have carried out this work. It will also mention the cost of that work, along with the completion date.
Your surveyor does this so you can assign a new depreciation lifecycle to your second-hand assets. However, you can only do this on assets in a property that you purchased before the 2017 budget. You may not be able to claim tax deductions in Australia for a property that you bought after May 9th, 2017.
The purpose of your timeline is to show what tax deductions in Australia you can claim. It will also create a schedule for these claims. This allows you to maximise the depreciation of your second-hand assets.
What Do I Get at the Lower End of the Scale
Let’s assume that you have decided to work with a quantity surveyor who only charges $300. That’s a few hundred extra dollars in your pocket, but the schedule you receive may not be as detailed as you would like.
For example, most surveyors at the lower end of the price scale don’t usually provide the following:
The option to use low-value and low-cost pooling to increase the amount you can claim
Completion of additional searches that would have helped to find approved works that you can claim for
Full itemisation of the individual assets contained in the property
Effective valuations of your second-hand assets
Furthermore, you may find that a cheaper surveyor does not have the relevant skills or experience. As a result, you don’t get the most out of your assets. You’ll still get a depreciation schedule. However, it won’t allow you to claim as many tax deductions in Australia as you may be entitled to.
What Do I Get With a More Expensive Surveyor
More expensive surveyors tend to provide better depreciation schedules.
You’ll receive all the following if you pay more for your depreciation schedule:
A completely accurate estimation of every tax deduction in Australia you can make
Access to more knowledge with regard to the latest tax legislation
Checks to ensure your depreciation schedule meets the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) requirements
A more reliable point of contact to ask questions
Such surveyors also have more experience, which they can use to your advantage. It’s unlikely you’ll present them with any scenarios that they aren’t familiar with.
What about Brand New Properties?
That covers any second-hand assets that you have in an established residential home. But what if you’ve bought a new property? These won’t contain any second-hand assets that need reporting on.
As a result, you can expect to pay less for your depreciation schedule. This is because most newly built properties come with more information. Your surveyor can use this to create more accurate estimates. They’ll have access to the costs of construction and the value of the assets that came with the property. This means they don’t have to carry out the detailed inspections that they would to estimate the value of second-hand assets in an established home.
Even with this lower cost, you will still receive the same level of service. The depreciation report will apply the new assets the home contains to either an immediate or long-term pool. This ensures you can claim the maximum tax deductions in Australia on your property.
How Much Does a Depreciation Schedule Cost for a Commercial Property?
Prices may vary for commercial properties. After all, larger commercial properties require more work than regular-sized residential properties.
Schedules for small offices cost about the same as you’d pay for a residential report. However, the price may increase along with the size of your property. Even so, it’s worth getting a depreciation schedule. Not only will it help you with asset deductions, but you can deduct the cost of the schedule from your taxes as well.
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.