Tax and legal advice

4 things you need to know about depreciation this tax season

mike mortlock tnIt’s that time of year again where television advertisements start battering us with acronyms like ‘EOFYS’ and shoeboxes of receipts are clutched in  trembling hands gripped by the terror of a looming tax return. Whilst fear and dread might be the default emotions for many at this time of year, for property investors it’s a rare chance to claw back some hard earned capital from the obdurate tax man.

Blogger: Mike Mortlock, MCG Quantity Surveyors

To that end we’ve put together a snappy list of 4 things you should know about depreciation this tax season.

1. If you've only just purchased a property, don’t put off getting a depreciation schedule
The upcoming end of financial year presents a great opportunity for quantity surveyors to say things like “We achieved $2,000 worth of deductions in 10 days! That’s $200 a day!”

Is this just marketing spin? Are we talking about a 10 million dollar unit? The short answer is no. There exists tax legislation such as 100% deductions which allows you to write off 100% of the value of a depreciable asset worth $300 or less in the year of acquisition. So if there’s only one day of claim in that financial year, you still get the full value! There might be a number of these low value assets in your property such as bathroom accessories, ceiling fans, door closers, smoke alarms and maybe more.

Last year we highlighted an exceptionally average property that returned over $3,000 worth of depreciation deductions in 59 days. You can read the whole article here

There’s also low value & low cost pooling legislation which allows for an 18.75% deduction in the year of acquisition. Yet another arrow in the quiver of the skilled depreciation expert hell bent on maximising your claims.

2. Chances are that even your 1960s built property will have some significant depreciation deductions
We feel a bit like a broken record, but we don’t mind repeating ourselves if it puts money in our clients pockets. So here goes once more. ‘A phone call will cost you nothing, but not making it could cost you thousands.’

By speaking with a qualified Quantity Surveyor, you’ll be able to receive a fair appraisal of the kind of depreciation deductions that might be available. Many investors own property which they don't believe is likely to have any depreciation deductions available. However, this is simply not true more often than not. Even properties constructed in the 1960s are likely to have significant depreciation deductions available. After all, there are plenty of 1960s properties in Australia, but how many of them still have their original 1960s kitchen and bathroom?  It doesn't matter if you've made no improvements to the property yourself as renovations completed through the previous owners toil will attract depreciation deductions that you're entitled to claim. If the kitchen has been updated, or the bathroom has been re-tiled, or it's had a coat of paint there'll be something there for you to claim.

3. If you've never claimed depreciation, you might have a hefty back claim
If you purchased your investment property a few years ago and you've never had a depreciation schedule, we’re sorry! We’ve been educating investors for years to have a depreciation schedule completed straight away, but sometimes it’s hard to stand out above the ardent bubble prophets and the real estate bulls on the other side of the fence. We either did not reach you to implore you to have one done, you stubbornly went your own way, or quite simply forgot. Chances are you’ve may have missed out on some deductions. The bad news here is that investors in the past were able to access up to four financial years of back claim, but that has changed to two financial years. However, those two financial years can certainly add up. We've had residential property investors with back claims over $15,000 and commercial property owners with back claims that would have accountants trembling at the knees. The good news is that depreciation reports start at the settlement date and show any depreciation claims for previous financial years you may be entitled to. Some investors have been able to receive rulings from the tax office allowing them to amend several years of claims. This allows investors to access their full back claims. Be sure to talk to an accountant with specialist investment property knowledge to ensure you're not missing out.

4. Make sure to itemise your repairs and maintenance costs to maximise your deductions
At this time of year we're inundated with carefully itemised spreadsheets from property investors showing us what they've spent money on, and we love it. There might be hot water system repairs, touch up paint jobs, new driveways, light globes and a multitude of other improvements mixed in. Not all of the items listed in the above example are treated the same way. Taking those items as examples, the new driveway is considered a capital improvement, or division 43. This means it will depreciate at 2.5% of its value each financial year for 40 years. Things like hot water system repairs and touch up painting are more likely to be considered as repairs and maintenance. This distinction is important because repairs and maintenance expenditure can be claimed by your accountant at 100%. If the works are a capital improvement, it will depreciate at 2.5% over 40 years. Why wait 40 years to claim the full value when you can do it in one?

When we see these spreadsheets we highlight the items we consider to be repairs and maintenance and send them through to the investor's accountant. The accountants are always happy to have these costs itemised for them and it certainly saves them time going through the spreadsheet again themselves.

To replay the record we broke earlier, the best advice we can give at tax time is that a phone call or email costs nothing. If you're not sure what your entitlements are or whether it is worthwhile having a report prepared, with a few simple questions we can give you a good idea how worthwhile a depreciation schedule might be.


 About Mike Mortlock

mike mortlock

Mike Mortlock is a Quantity Surveyor and Director of MCG Quantity Surveyors. MCG Specialise in Tax Depreciation Schedules and Construction Cost Estimating for investors. You can visit them at www.mcgqs.com.au

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Mike Mortlock

Mike Mortlock

Mike Mortlock is a quantity surveyor and director of MCG Quantity Surveyors. MCG specialise in tax depreciation schedules and construction cost estimating for investors.

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Tune in to the latest episode of Property Showcase, the podcast with the inside track on the products and businesses that will help turbocharge your portfolio, maximise returns and make your overall investment experience seamless and stress-free!

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To hear more about these services, make sure to tune in to this episode of Property Showcase!

 Make sure you never miss an episode by subscribing to us now on iTunes!

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    In this episode of Property Showcase, director of investment services for Open Corp Michael Beresford,\u00a0joins\u00a0editor of Real Estate, Tim Neary to share why he disagrees that the cooling market means that the best times are behind us.<\/p>\r\n

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Mortgages in a tighter lending economy and why Brisbane is a good option
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  ["title"]=>
  string(82) "Stories of success: The migrants that became Australia’s renowned Property Twins"
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Sana and Mona Ali moved to Australia from Pakistan at the age of 15. Years later, the once-struggling migrants successfully turned their $40,000 savings into a $5 million-portfolio, earning the moniker “The Property Twins” — all before the age of 30. How did these millennials make their way to the top?

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The Ali sisters lived in low socioeconomic conditions for years since arriving in Australia in 2000, but instead of accepting their fate, they used their circumstance as motivation to work hard and achieve financial security.

According to Sana: “Moving countries was a huge personal challenge. We were living in a low socioeconomic area of Sydney and we just saw people around us living really good lives. It really pushed us and made us wonder, ‘What if we could buy more than one house?’”

They initially wanted just a strong financial foundation for themselves and their family and the sense of security brought about by owning a home. In less than a decade, they got all of it and more.

Aside from being able to build a 10-property portfolio, the Ali sisters were also successful in establishing a mortgage business that aims to help investors make the best decisions for their own wealth-creation journeys.

“We just want to feel that Australia is really home and to have our roots here,” Mona highlighted.

How it all started

What they lacked in funds, the Ali sisters made up for continuous education, training and mentorship.

In 2009, they have both spent years in the Information Technology and Project Management fields before progressing through finance roles. The high-net worth individuals that they constantly work made them realise that there’s more they can aspire for than corporate jobs.

They started doing research and eventually bought their first property in Parramatta through their combined savings of $40,000 and the aid of the First Home Owners Grant. Seven months later, they bought their second property in Blacktown.

Mona shared: “I personally wasn’t a good saver, because I loved shopping and shoes. Nothing wrong with that, but looking back, it's like a ‘need it versus want it’ question. Obviously, I did buy a lot of shoes but we didn’t go travelling and all of that. So, we did have some savings.”

The Ali sisters opted for cheap properties in the lower end of the market to jumpstart their investment journey for low-entry prices.

“The cash flow meant when we did rent the properties out, they could look after themselves,” Mona highlighted.

Sana and Mona advise investors to avoid being afraid of starting small. Being realistic instead of aiming for a dream home on their first shot at investing helped them enter the market sooner than later.

After all, property investment is a long-term commitment and, essentially, a kind of “delayed gratification”.

The twin’s property portfolio grew to consist of eight more properties spread across Western Sydney and Brisbane, including units, villas and townhouses.

Strategies

Not long after they started investing in properties, the Ali sisters sold their first two properties in Sydney to take advantage of the property boom that happened in the city. Prior to selling, they did cosmetic renovations on these properties to add value and eventually extracted equity from them.

The first property returned around $330,000 while the second property returned around $190,000.

Mona and Sana used the extracted equity to make their third and fourth property purchase, which are strata properties located in Blacktown. Less than 10 years later, the same properties have increased in value by 90 to 100 per cent.

As the market went more stagnant, Mona and Sana continued increasing their savings to improve the buffer for their portfolio. They saved 20 to 30 per cent of their salary, sacrificed travels, minimised eating out and drove a Kia Rio for years to save as much as they could.

For years, they carefully weighed their needs and wants to determine the things they could live without as they are building their portfolio.

Where to buy

The Ali sisters deliberately chose to buy most of their properties in the Western Sydney region, between Parramatta and Penrith.

According to them, having properties in such good locations, as in close to transport and other valuable infrastructure and establishments, helped them maintain good cash flow and minimise the impact of property investment on their finances and lifestyle.

While they have implemented different strategies throughout their investment journey, good location is one of their non-negotiables.

Sana explained: “We wanted to make sure the properties were well-located. That’s formed the foundation of our property strategy, where we make sure that properties are close to the train station, or a big shopping centre, because that’s what’s going to drive the demand down the track.”

Who to work with

Unlike many investors, the Ali sisters didn’t recognise the value added by property professionals to their portfolio in the beginning. In fact, it took them four purchases to seek the guidance of experts. Needless to say, it turned out to be among their more costly decisions.

According to Sana: “You don’t know what you don’t know, and we didn’t know any better. In hindsight, it would have been good to work with a broker for our initial couple of purchases.” 

Through online forums, they found out about the benefits of working with a mortgage broker and has since worked with a few throughout their investment journey. They taught them not only what they needed to know about mortgage broking, but also what they want to be done differently.

Eventually, Mona and Sana grew to love the “numbers side of property” and went on to establish their own mortgage business, The Property Twins. The business aims to empower investors by offering different services, including building portfolio roadmaps and finding better loans.

According to them, their personal experiences as investors consistently help them provide the best customer service and most effective advice even amidst changing broking spaces.

Mona said: “We really look at building road maps for our clients upfront. On paper, we really put the options down — lender A, B, C, D, in that order — so you continue maximising what's really possible for you."

“Whilst you have no control over the lending policies or where your interest rates go, if you’re making that strategic choice, you’re keeping a lot of doors open for later investment," she added.

Helping investors

As investors-turned-mortgage brokers, Mona and Sana seek to improve the knowledge of Australian investors and ultimately help them achieve their financial goals. Their experiences as investors who, quite literally, started from the bottom allow them to provide realistic and well-rounded advice to different types of investors.

Instead of acting as mere intermediaries who bring borrowers and lenders together, they take on a holistic approach and help budding investors establish a good foundation for their investment journey.

The most important advice they give to their clients is to always implement long-term strategies, but also be flexible enough to alter plans accordingly along the way.

Sana explained: “You need to look at the big picture rather than just one product or one rate focus, because it's a long-term strategy for you.” 

“We are taking our clients on a journey. It’s not about one transaction at a time, it’s about the big picture and really educating them through the process, through the decisions that they are going to be making — just talking through the pros and cons, the rates and how it's impacting them and what their plans are in the next six to 12 months," Mona highlighted.

Finding the right mentors is critical to success in property investment, according to them. Finding the ones who will be willing to understand your goals, capabilities and limitations as an investor and give you tailored advice will certainly help you fast track your wealth-creation journey.

In fact, Mona and Sana themselves have made it a point to stay in contact with their mentors even after they have successfully crossed the $5 million-line.

As mortgage brokers, the Ali sisters go above and beyond their responsibilities to serve as lessons and inspirations to budding investors.

Mona said: “It’s been really rewarding to see the changes that people have had or the smart decisions our clients have made over the last couple of months. Whilst we’re not property coaches or mentors, that naturally comes to us.

“We pretty much hold their hand and say, ‘Look, this is what we would buy, this is what would make a good property and this is what you should be looking for, and where you should be looking.’ When you’re working with someone who’s been there, where you want to go, you cut down 10 years’ worth of effort,” she concluded.

 

The information has been sourced from propertytwins.com.au, realestate.com.au, Daily Mail and the Smart Property Investment website.

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Stories of success: The migrants that became Australia’s renowned Property Twins
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Will Magee has had ambitions to enter into the Australian property market for quite some time, but it has been more than just finances holding him back.  Having been granted permanent residency just two weeks ago, Will is wasting no time and is now in the process of signing papers and finding his first investment property.

" ["fulltext"]=> string(2483) "

In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, Will joins host Phil Tarrant to share why he is purchasing his first property in partnership with his brother, discuss the complications that can arise from such a strategy, and unpack the ongoing plan for building a joint property portfolio with his brother.

Will will also share how they approached saving for their first property, why he is taking out the mortgage in his name exclusively, and share their savings plan for the year ahead.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

RELATED AREAS OF INTEREST:

From property in Australia to a ski lodge in Japan
Mortgage Trusts, an alternative first step for property investors
Should a real estate title be in one person’s name only?

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A property investment plan years in the making

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