Own a property? Know what you can and can't claim
In the 2017-18 financial year, more than 2.2 million Australians claimed over $47 billion in deductions and the ATO believes that is too much - one in ten is estimated to contain errors.
4,500 audits of rental property deductions will be undertaken this year with the focus on over-claimed interest, capital works claimed as repairs, incorrect apportionment of expenses for holiday homes let out to others, and omitted income from accommodation sharing.
Deliberate cases of over-claiming are treated harshly with penalties of up to 75% of the claim.
What you can claim for your rental property has been significantly curbed, for example, you can no longer claim deductions for the cost of travelling to inspect the property. And, you can no longer claim depreciation deductions for second hand plant and equipment.
Previously, you could for example, buy a rental property from someone else and then claim depreciation on the assets already in the property such as the kitchen appliances and carpet. From 1 July 2017, you can only claim deductions for new assets you purchase and install in the property.
When you own a share in a property
For tax purposes, rental income and expenses need to be recognised in line with the legal ownership of the property, except in very limited circumstances where it can be shown that the equitable interest in the property is different from the legal title.
The ATO will assume that where the taxpayers are related, the equitable right is the same as the legal title (unless there is evidence to suggest otherwise such as a deed of trust etc.,).
This means that if you hold a 25% legal interest in a property then you should recognise 25% of the rental income and rental expenses in your tax returns even if you pay most or all of the rental property expenses (the ATO would treat this as a private arrangement between the owners).
The main exception is that if the parties have separately borrowed money to acquire their interest in the property then they would claim their own interest deductions.
Be sure before you claim
As always, if you aren't sure what you can or can't claim for your investment properties, then speak to one of our team on 02 9957 4033.
This article is provided for information purposes only and correct at the time of publication. It should not be used in place of advice from your accountant. Please contact us on 02 9957 4033 to discuss your specific circumstances.