There are three common mistakes property investors make when it comes to maximising their tax return, according to BMT Tax Depreciation.
Expert quantity surveyor and CEO at BMT Tax Depreciation, Bradley Beer, said the mistakes end of costing property investors thousands.
"Property investors can claim sizable tax deductions for the natural wear and tear that occurs to a building and its fixtures and fittings over time. These deductions are known as property depreciation," Mr Beer said.
"Specialist quantity surveyors are one of the few professionals recognised as having the skills to estimate construction costs for depreciation purposes, yet many people fail to engage one and miss out on claiming valuable dollars back at tax time."
Top 3 mistakes made, according to Mr Beer:
Mr Beer flagged that there are two types of depreciation deductions: capital works (Division 43) and plant and equipment (Division 40).
“It’s often not immediately clear which category an item belongs to, and in some cases an asset can be split between both,” he advised.
"Capital works are claimed for the wear and tear of a building’s structure and the items permanently fixed to the property, such as doors and windows. Capital works are typically depreciated at an annual rate of 2.5 per cent over 40 years.
"Plant and equipment items can be easily removed, and include things like blinds, hot water systems and furniture. The condition, quality and effective life will determine the allowances available for a plant and equipment asset."
As an example, Mr Beer said many investors mistake floating timber flooring as permanently fixed to the building and "therefore a capital works deduction when it’s actually removable, making it a plant and equipment deduction.
“This could mean the difference between $250 and over $1,300 in first year deductions.”
Another mistake property investors make is thinking that depreciation can't be claimed on older properties.
In fact, he said, legislation introduced in late 2017 "means that depreciation of second-hand plant and equipment assets can no longer be claimed."
"Yet capital works deductions remain unaffected and make up the bulk of a depreciation claim on an investment property, regardless of whether it is new or second hand.
“Second-hand property owners can still claim depreciation on all qualifying capital works deductions that, on average, make up 85-90 per cent of the total claim. They can also claim all new plant and equipment assets they purchase for the property,” Mr Beer said.
“During the 2019-2020 financial year, we found an average depreciation claim of more than $8,300 for our clients’ properties.”
The third biggest mistake property investors make is overlooking depreciation deductions, according to Mr Beer, who says these are easily missed "by the untrained eye, especially on assets that have been installed by others".
He noted substantial renovations where all, or substantially all, of a building is removed or replaced can hold significant deductions – even when completed by a previous owner.
“Some examples of substantial renovations include replacing foundations of the building, walls, floors, the roof or staircases," Mr Beer said.
“These renovations can hold tens of thousands of dollars in deductions for the new owner.”
Commenting further, Mr Beer flagged that when an investor purchases a second-hand property immediately after a substantial renovation, the 2017 legislation changes don’t apply.
“This means the new owner can claim depreciation on all new plant and equipment assets and the capital works,” he explained.
“Property investors should look to contact a specialist quantity surveyor for advice on what deductions are available for their individual circumstances.”