Rental property income and deduction mistakes continue to be one of the main focus areas for the ATO this tax time. Along with the usual emphasis on including all rental income in the tax return, with all the natural disasters Australians have been experiencing the ATO has issued a reminder that insurance pay-outs may also need to be included. On the expenses side, the ATO warns against including interest related to redraw to purchase a private asset, and immediately deducting the cost of capital works or depreciating assets costing more than $300.
This area of focus for the ATO is no surprise, considering that a recent ATO Random Enquiry Program found that nine out of 10 tax returns that report rental income and deductions contain at least one error.
The ATO warns taxpayers that it receives rental income data from a wide range of sources, including share economy platforms, rental bond authorities of various states, property management software providers and state and territory revenue and land title authorities. This information will then be matched to the information provided by taxpayers on their tax returns, meaning that there is no hiding income from the all-seeing eye of the ATO.
One of the income categories for rental properties that may be important for this year, but that many landlords may not know to include, is insurance payouts. With the La Nina weather event causing flooding along large parts of the country, if you obtained insurance payments in relation to loss of rental income or repairs, that would need to be included.
For those renting out their investment property, their home, or part of their home on a short-term basis on digital sharing platforms such as AirBnB, that income will need to be included, and any expenses will need to be apportioned according to the space rented out. There may also be CGT consequences upon selling the property, so taxpayers will need to be careful.
Joint owners of properties will need to ensure that their income and deductions are in line with the rental property’s ownership interest, which generally depends on legal documents at the time of purchase.
As for expenses, the ATO notes that while some expenses such as rental management fees, council rates, repairs, interest on loans, and insurance premiums can be deducted in the year they are incurred, other expenses, such as borrowing costs, capital works and some depreciating assets can only be claimed over a number of years. Capital works include replacing a roof or a new kitchen or bathroom. Depreciating assets such as dishwashers or ovens valued at over $300 will need to be claimed over their effective life.
In addition, taxpayers should also be aware that if they redraw on a rental property loan for private expenses or to purchase a private asset, the amount of interest relating to the loan for the private expense or asset cannot be claimed as a deduction. There may also be other instances where a deduction in relation to a rental property will be denied, such as when a property is advertised at significantly above reasonable market rate, or where unreasonable restrictions are imposed on potential tenants.
Taxpayers who have sold a property during the 2021–2022 income year will need to be extra cautious, as capital gains is also one of ATO’s focus areas for this year. Those that have rented out a part of their property may only be entitled to a partial main residence exemption, depending on the amount of space rented out.
If you would like to know more please contact one of our accountants on 07 4639 1099 or come in and see us at 4 Bowen Street Toowoomba.