With another financial year now behind us, it is time to start thinking about doing your taxes. While this is not something anyone particularly enjoys, it can be especially difficult – and confusing – for property investors. With additional assets, income sources, and deductions to declare, investors’ returns tend to be a lot more detailed.
This is why we always recommend you engage a qualified and experienced accountant to look after your taxes. They will do all the hard work for you and guide you through collating all the information you need. They should also be able to suggest ways to minimise your obligations and bring down your annual tax bill.
Reducing the amount of tax you need to pay usually requires you to plan ahead and carefully manage your portfolio. As such, now is the perfect time to think about your tax minimisation strategy for the year ahead. To help with this, we want to take a closer look at the main minimisation approaches successful investors adopt.
Gearing your investments
A property’s gearing comes from the finance (e.g. a mortgage) required to pay for it. If the loan repayments are less than the regular rental returns, the property produces income and is considered positively geared. Conversely, if the property costs more to maintain than it makes in rent, it is negatively geared.
As a general rule, we advise the investors we work with to focus on positively geared properties. This helps reduce your financial risk and the income the property produces can be put toward growing your portfolio. That said, the additional income is subject to tax and will increase your total tax obligation.
As such, many investors prefer negatively geared properties as the losses can be claimed as deductions at tax time. This means that the additional costs you pay throughout the year can be used to reduce your taxable income. It also helps offset these expenses, allowing investors to focus on the long term gain of capital growth.
The role of depreciation
Over time, natural wear and tear can have a significant impact on the condition, and value, of an investment property. From kitchen appliances to floor coverings, most of the fixtures and finishes will need to be replaced at some point. Acknowledging this, Australian tax law allows you to claim the gradual decline in value as a deduction.
An important caveat here is that these rules only apply to properties that produce income (i.e. investment properties). This means that the property must be tenanted, or at least advertised for rent, for the deductions to be claimed. You should also engage a quantity surveyor to prepare a depreciation schedule, as this will detail what you can claim.
Repairs, advertising, and other deductions
There is a range of other costs associated with owning an investment property that can help reduce your taxable income. This includes:
Want to discuss this further?
If you have questions about navigating tax time as a property investor, give Search Party Property a call. While we are not financial professionals ourselves, we understand the obligations that come with owning investment properties. We also work closely with a range of financial specialists and can connect you with suitably qualified expert support.