Why property investors should appreciate depreciation at tax time

At tax time it pays dividends if you’re an investor to spend a little time learning the financial arts of being a landlord. It can be a significant benefit to understand the principles of depreciation and capitalisation and write-offs. This won’t make you an accountant, of course, but it will provide insight into how to maximise the benefits that governments offer to ensure there’s always a rental stock of homes available.

As experienced local agents, we always recommend our investors use two professional services – an accountant or financial adviser together with their property management team to ensure you receive the best possible guidance to maximise the return of your investment property.

We often receive questions from first-time property investors about some aspects of the tax regime. So, here’s a short list that addresses questions around depreciation.

Depreciation

Generally, when you buy a significant item for a rental home, such as a hot water service or cooker, you cannot immediately deduct these capital assets. Instead, the deduction is made over time to reflect the asset’s depreciation in value. The purchase should have a limited life, and its value should decline over time.

Deductions

A deduction is made relevant to its capacity to earn income. So if you rent a holiday home 60% of the time, and you live in it for the other 40%, you’ll only be able to make a 60% claim. Deductions can be made for expenses but they should ideally be under a maximum of $300 in most instances or they may be regarded as a capital expense and require depreciation. Deductions are likely to be able to be made for items such as property management fees, pest control, repairs and maintenance and insurances.

Who can claim?

For most scenarios, the legal owner(s) will gain the benefit, but there are exceptions. If you own a property in a formalised partnership, then it is this entity that will get the benefit, not the individuals who formed the association.  

Instant asset write-off

The Federal Government has released this “instant write-off” program to stimulate spending in the economy. Seek more information from the ATO or your accountant as this is quite detailed.

In all circumstances, you should seek professional advice from your accountant or advisor before buying an investment property or expanding your portfolio. This article is for general purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.

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