Tax and legal advice
Carolyn Parrella

Top tips for a stress free tax time for landlords

By Carolyn Parrella

Tax time is nearly here and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has put landlords on notice.

The ATO will be making a focused effort on identifying, addressing and potentially penalising the large number of mistakes, errors and false claims made by property investors.

It’s never too early to prepare for tax time.

Landlords should keep accurate records of their property investment income and expenditure throughout the year to ensure they are not underprepared come June 30.

Even the most fastidious landlords could come under scrutiny from the ATO for oversights in their bookkeeping. The ATO’s assistant commissioner, Kath Anderson, has claimed incorrect rental property claims “will not go unnoticed”.

The ATO will also be alert to unreasonable conditions placed on prospective renters, rental rates set above market rates, and failing to sufficiently advertise rental properties, as these factors can impact a tax claims eligibility.

To maximise your tax return, and ensure you are not claiming incorrectly, landlords should consult an accountant and seek advice from a taxation specialist.

Here are my tips for Australian landlords top help remove the stress of tax time:

Holidays homes

There are more than two million property investors in Australia with approximately 350,000 of them owning homes in holiday destinations.

There are a number of benefits to owning a holiday home. You can rent it to holidaymakers and then enjoy it yourself when it’s vacant, but this can cause headaches at tax time.

Landlords cannot claim for days when they used a holiday home for their personal holidays, or when they let their family and friends use the property without charge. Landlords can only claim expenses for when the holiday home was available for paid rent.

Landlords should keep a record of when their holiday home was rented, when it was vacant, and when it was used for personal holidays to avoid any confusion.

Expenses

This year changes were made to eligible deductions which could have a significant impact on some landlords’ tax claims.

From July 1, 2017, the Federal Government banned tax deductions for travel-related expenses, which means landlords cannot claim the cost of travelling to their investment property to complete maintenance or property inspections. This change will help to stop landlords who claimed deductions for visiting holiday homes while on personal trips.

Despite this change, there are many other legitimate expenses that can leave landlords thousands of dollars out of pocket by under-claiming.

Body corporate fees on strata or community titled properties may be an eligible claim. If you are a self-managed landlord, you may be able to offset some of the cost of your home office by claiming it as part of your tax return. This can include a fair and reasonable percentage of software, printing and internet costs.

Insurance

An investor’s landlord insurance policy premium is a tax-deductible expense but is often overlooked. End of financial year is also a good time to review your insurance policy to ensure you are covered for specific risks associated with property investing. For example, not all landlord insurance policies cover for professional fees incurred as a result of an ATO tax audit relating to your investment property.

Property manager

Property managers are an invaluable asset and their fees are tax deductible too. Property managers help reduce the burden at tax time by compiling and completing the relevant paperwork for ATO reporting.

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About the Blogger

Carolyn Parrella

Carolyn Parrella

Carolyn Parrella is Executive Manager of Australia’s leading landlord insurance specialists, Terri Scheer Insurance. Terri Scheer provides insurance cover for landlords, helping to protect them against the risks associated with owning a rental property. These include malicious damage by tenants, accidental damage, landlord’s legal liability and loss of rental income. 

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Top tips for a stress free tax time for landlords
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