As summer brings warmer weather to our backyards, it is a great time for property investors to think about the outdoor areas of their investment properties.
Outdoor areas in investment properties contain a number of structures and assets which are worth thousands of dollars for their owners. These items also experience wear and tear over time. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) allows owners of income producing properties to claim this wear and tear as a depreciation deduction when completing their annual income tax assessment with an accountant.
Before an investor can claim depreciation, it is recommended they consult with a specialist quantity surveyor to arrange a tax depreciation schedule for the property. A tax depreciation schedule will outline all of the deductions available for the structure of the property as well as the plant and equipment assets contained both inside and outside of the property.
The deductions a specialist quantity surveyor outlines on a depreciation schedule are split into two types. Structural items will be classified as capital works deductions, while assets which can be easily removed from the property can be claimed as plant and equipment depreciation.
Items classified as capital works will depreciate at a rate of 2.5 per cent each year over forty years. Plant and equipment assets, on the other hand, each have an individual effective life as set by the ATO.
The following graphic shows some of the depreciable plant and equipment assets and structural items found within the yard of an investment property as well as the first year depreciation deductions an investor could claim for these items.
Examples of outdoor structures which depreciate, as shown in the graphic, include the in-ground swimming pool, pool fencing, shade sails, pavers and window awnings. Other common structural assets found in the yard which depreciate include concrete slabs, clothes lines and sleepers.
Depreciable plant and equipment assets found in the yard of the pictured property included solar garden lights, outdoor furniture, garden watering systems, swimming pool filters and chlorinators. Other common examples of depreciable plant and equipment assets which might be found in the yard include garbage bins, garden sheds and freestanding barbeques.
As the assets outside a property experience wear and tear, it also makes sense to check in regularly with your property manager to see if there are any necessary repairs and maintenance required. If there are, it is also best to check with your specialist quantity surveyor before completing any work to the property.
While work completed to repair damage (such as mending part of a fence) or to prevent deterioration to a property (for example oiling a deck) is able to be claimed as an immediate deduction in the year of the expense, any work which improves the condition or value of an object beyond it’s original state at the time of purchase will be considered a capital improvement. Capital improvements completed will also be classified as either capital works deductions or depreciated as plant and equipment using the asset’s individual effective lives.
If an investor already has a depreciation schedule and plans to complete improvements to the yard, a specialist quantity surveyor can provide information on any remaining deductions for items planned for removal. Removing items could entitle an investor to claim additional deductions using a process known as ‘scrapping.’ Using this process, any remaining depreciable value can be claimed as a deduction in the financial year the item is removed.
When any new structural additions or plant and equipment assets are added to an investment property, it is recommended to ask your specialist quantity surveyor to provide an updated depreciation schedule outlining the deductions for any new items.
Maximising depreciation deductions for items outside a property and carefully considering whether any improvements can be made can add thousands of dollars to an investor’s pocket. It also can add additional value to the property and appeal to tenants, helping to increase your rental return.
Quantity surveyors can provide a free estimate of the depreciation deductions available in any investment property. To request an estimate and obtain their advice, click here.
— Bradley is the chief executive officer of BMT Tax Depreciation. Bradley joined BMT in 1998 and as such he has substantial knowledge about property investment supported by expertise in property depreciation and the construction industry.