With tax time just around the corner, if you’re a homeowner with an investment property, now is the time to start preparing for the end of the financial year. And while it’s a process many people dread, the good news is there are many ways to reduce annual amounts, and deductions can sometimes be the difference between your investment generating an income or having a negative cash flow. We spoke to property developer Tamara Wrigley – who boasts an impressive property portfolio with over 30 houses – for her tips on the key deductions you should be considering when it comes to that all-important tax return.
Regardless of whether you’re finding a first tenant, or re-letting, the costs associated with online advertising, print media, flyers and brochures, or a sign can beclaimed against property income in the year you paid them.
One handy item to remember is that interest on investment loans and bank fees spent servicing the same loan are tax deductible. It’s important to realise however, that you can’t claim repayments, or interest on the whole sum if you refinanced part of the loan for private purposes.
These can be deducted in the year they were paid, as long as you’re only doing so during the times in which the property was rented.
It’s OK to deduct Land Tax as long as you have a rented dwelling on your property. Do realise that land tax is not uniform nationally as it is a state-based tax, so check your situation locally or, if unsure, chat to your accountant.
Properties on strata title are allowed to claim the cost of body corporate fees. Do be aware that your fee includes maintenance and garden expenses. It can only be claimed once, so no deducting separately later.
This deduction is very dependent on when your property was built and its age. Any property constructed prior to 16th September 1987 can’t have original construction costs claimed on it, although after that date you are allowed to claim 2.5% depreciation a year for 40 years.
Just like building depreciation, this has set dates against whether you can receive this deduction. Only people who purchased a property before 7.30pm on 9th May, 2017, and installed appliances prior to July 2017, can claim deductions on new or second hand appliances. Rules also apply to depreciating an asset that another owner or person may have already processed.
Repairs and maintenance
Repairs relating directly to wear and tear can be deducted, such as roofing after a storm or an essential appliance repair. Repairs where full replacements are done to appliances cannot be deducted and the rule above applies.
Eradicating furry friends and creepy crawlies is also tax deductible. It’s also a deduction that can be made by landlords or tenants, depending on who paid for the service.
Garden and maintenance
Can you deduct the cost of upkeep and replacement of plants and structures? You most certainly can. The one rule here is that any works or plants that add value to the property cannot be deducted.
Protecting your investment with insurance is a claimable item. If you can’t remember your premiums, ask for a statement from your provider or insurance broker.
Direct costs related to preparing tax returns and expenses as they relate to the property are deductible, however it’s essential to realise personal income tax preparation is not – although that can be claimed separately against yourpersonal income tax return.
While travel costs to and from an investment property used to be deductible for all, it should be noted this is no longer the case. Only excluded entities and landlords involved in an active property investment business are permitted to receive these.
Property management costs are deductible and play a role in ensuring your investment is well maintained, rents are at good market rates and professional, communicative relationships with tenants are maintained.
Stationery and phone costs: Just like any business, the material you use and the calls you make to run your investment can be deducted.
While this deduction may be subject to change, under the current government, if you need to evict a tenant and incur losses as a result, any costs incurred relating to preparing legal documents or going to court can be treated as a tax-deductible claim.
Last of all, a wise word from someone actively working with property investors every day: “One of the many benefits to engaging with a Property Management professional is that at the end of every financial year you’ll receive a financial summary of all income and associated maintenance and management costs. First National Real Estate supplies these to all our landlords, ensuring vital detail covering income and expenses are captured each Financial Year. Best of all, First National’s property management services and streamlined financial reporting is all a tax-deductible expense.” – Sam Dunne, Head of Property Management.