The Tax Working Group (TWG) has published its interim report. What will be the impact on property investors? Please see the PDF below for an executive summary, courtesy of Forsyth Barr.
THE GIST OF IT
Basically, the TWG wants to extend taxes on capital gains to things other than property. But, they are also looking at reintroducing building depreciation, so it is not all bad for property investors.
TAX ON CAPITAL INCOME
A capital gains tax (CGT) regime for property and share traders/developers etc already exists in New Zealand, so this is nothing new. The TWG recommendation is to extend this to catch gains on assets that are not already taxed:
IMPACT ON INVESTORS
Some key points:
For more information, please contact either Guy Johnson or Paul O'Driscoll or via the details below.
Content posted by kind permission of Forsyth Barr. This does not represent endorsement of EpsomTax.com Limited or its related companies by Forsyth Barr. All rights and trademarks belong to their owners
We are sometimes asked: what does "tax-deductible" really mean? Does it mean that I get all my money back? Well...
When an item is tax deductible that means that the cost is able to be deducted from taxable income or the amount of tax to be paid.
All purchases are either 100% tax-deductible, partially tax-deductible or not tax-deductible. A 100% tax deductible item does not mean you get 100% of the money spent back. It means that you can claim 100% of the cost against your taxable income. A 50% tax deductible item e.g. phone, means you can claim half the cost against your income.
So, let's say that you want to put new carpets in your rental property. The cost comes to $4000. This would be 100% tax-deductible. You can claim all of that cost against the rental income the property is earning.
But let's then say that you are at the supermarket, and you forgot your personal credit card. So you pay for your groceries from your rental property account. This would not be tax-deductible.
HOW MUCH TAX WILL I GET BACK?
So, how much do you get back when you buy a tax-deductible item? Well, it depends on how much tax you pay. The maximum tax rate is 33%. So the maximum tax refund is also 33% i.e. You will never get back more tax than you actually paid. So we suggest as a rule of thumb: divide the cost by 1/3. This gives you a rough idea of how much tax you might get back.
Of course, tax refunds are subject to things like: were you correctly taxed at your job? Are the property losses ring-fenced so that you get little or no personal tax refund? Is your rental property owned by an LTC, partnership or sole trader that allows losses to be passed to the owners (under current laws) or is it owned by something like a trust or standard company, which don't?
If you have further questions, please place a comment here or contact us.
WILL IT HAPPEN?
Hard to say. Now the cat is out of the bag, it might be hard to put it back in. It is, however, worth noting that attempts have been made to control the property market by brute force before, and they ultimately resulted in a change of government. In the early 1980's, the then Prime Minister, Mr Robert Muldoon, introduced a rent and interest rate freeze in an attempt to control property market growth. The result was that no one could get finance, and so no one could sell either. Eventually, this regime was repealed.
There has been some very strong push-back by influential companies and bodies, which is to be expected. So, we wait and see.
Meanwhile, let's talk about possible strategies:
Until where know where things are going to land, these are only ideas to consider at this stage - although point 1 is probably a bit of a no-brainer.
RESIDENTIAL LAND RICH
IRD have proposed that any entity which is not "residential land rich" won't be subject to the ring-fencing rules.
Please explain?! So, an entity is which is not "residential land rich" is any entity wherein 50% of more of its assets are not rental residential property. For example, a LTC which owns a residential rental, and also owns a mixed use asset, and the value of the rental is less than the value of the mixed-use asset.
So what? So... this means that the ring-fencing rules wouldn't apply to that entity. Therefore, any losses would still flow through to the shareholders' personal tax returns.
You have a mixed-use asset if, during the tax year, it's used for both private use and income-earning use, and it's also unused for 62 days or more.
The rules apply to any:
See here for more info.
So in other words, a mixed-use asset means you have to use it a bit yourself, e.g. a holiday home that you mostly rent out, but that you stay in a bit during the year.
There are various rules (outlined in the above link) which limit what you can claim from these kind of assets, and you have to be careful if you think your gross annual income will be more than 60k (GST registration; that's another issue - especially when it comes to sale time), but it bears thinking about.
SET IN STONE?
By no means. We are recommending a wait-and-see approach at this stage. But start thinking ...
You might find our earlier article on this subject useful as well.
Tax Treatment of Cryptocurrency
IRD is till working out the tax treatment of cryptocurrency. But it has made up its mind on some things. You can read all about it here. The main points so far are:
Cryptocurrency Fraud Warnings
NZ Police in association with City of London Police have just released a warning. See below for the PDF.
Apparently, fraudulent websites alleging to offer cryptocurrency investments are dishonestly using the image of Martin Lewis, the founder and editor for moneysavingexpert.com, as an endorsement for their companies. However, Martin doesn't do adverts. See his blog post for more info here. These sites are also falsely stating that Dragons Den back their schemes.
More info is available at NetSafe, especially re scams. And, just for the record, we don't claim any endorsement by Martin Lewis, his website, NZ Police, City of London Police or NetSafe. Any copyrights belong to their legal owners. We are merely making you aware of what is going on out there. Keep safe!
Shock! Horror! IRD have released a proposal to ring-fence rental property losses. What does that mean for you?
At present if you own a rental property (sole trader, partnership, LTC) and it makes a loss, then you can offset that loss against your personal income or the income of the shareholder/s (in the case of an LTC). This means you pay less tax or get a tax refund. In IRD speak, that is
"Currently investors (particularly highly-geared investors) have part of the cost of servicing their mortgages subsidised by the reduced tax on their other income sources."
Thousands and thousands of Mums and Dads across New Zealand have become landlords in this way, and the tax refunds help pay for the mortgage.
From 2019-20 onwards (or possibly phased in), losses won't be passed on to the owners, so no more personal tax refunds. Instead, ring-fenced residential rental* or other losses from one year could be offset against:
Solutions for Investors
IRD make this comment:
It is suggested that the loss ring-fencing rules should apply on a portfolio basis. That would mean that investors would be able to offset losses from one rental property against rental income from other properties – calculating their overall profit or loss across their portfolio.
So, our initial thoughts are that investors with negatively-geared property need to look at
Where to Read the IRD Proposal
Goto this page
How To Make A Submission
Officials invite submissions on the suggested changes and points raised in this issues paper. Send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Ring-fencing rental losses” in the subject line.
Ring-fencing rental losses
C/- Deputy Commissioner, Policy and Strategy
Inland Revenue Department
PO Box 2198
The closing date for submissions is 11 May 2018, so if you want to say something, you'd best be quick about it!
Check out Part 2 here
* If your house is a Mixed Use Asset, ie you use it as a holiday home that you rent out to others, then the rules wouldn't apply to you. They also don't apply to your "main home" ie where you live, or if you are buying and selling houses for profit e.g. a trader.
A good question. Here's how it works:
Timeframes - How Long Does It Take?
As a rough guide, from the date of invoice issuance to you having the draft financial statements in your hands, we aim for 8-9 weeks, subject to this disclaimer: these timeframes are indicative only and at peak times of the year e.g. May-October, it will often take longer.
Before Processing Starts
We'll advise you in February via email when this is.
We trust this helps take some of the mystery out of the process. Please contact us with any questions!
Other FAQs you might have:
RENTAL PROPERTY: WHAT RECORDS DO YOU NEED TO KEEP?
USING ACCOUNTANCYONLINE.CO.NZ/MY TAX QUESTIONNAIRE
HOW DO I DOWNLOAD TRANSACTIONS FROM MY BANK'S ONLINE INTERNET BANKING?
WHAT IS XERO.COM?
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR TAX RETURNS
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
According to Wikipedia*, "phishing is the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and money), often for malicious reasons, by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication."
What Do Phishing Emails Look Like?
Quite often they look like a legitimate email from IRD (about a tax refund, or warning of tax owing), or an email from a provider like Office365 or Apple. More info here at netsafe.org.nz*.
How Do You Know If It Is A Phishing Email?
There are often several clues; please see the copy of example emails below.
What Does a Phishing Email Look Like?
Here is one phishing email we received recently. It looks rather convincing, but there are a couple of clues in the email that it is not from a legitimate source
Here is another example of a phishing email. Note again the clues that it is not "legit":
How Can I Keep Myself Safe?
See more tips on this page at netsafe.org.nz
What should I do if I need help or advice?
You can contact Netsafe:
* We have quoted information from Wikipedia (licence terms) and Netsafe (licence terms). Use of this information does not constitute an endorsement of EpsomTax.com by either organisation. This information is not provided for commercial purposes, but strictly in an attempt to help promote community awareness of fraud and how to prevent it and protect yourself.
Currently, the tax thresholds are as follows:
As you may recall, these were to be changed. However, due to a change of government, there will be no change to these tax rates. There will no doubt be lots of other changes coming; we will post as soon as information is finalised. At the moment it is all hot air and speculation...
Insurance Premiums Increase
The government announced in today's Budget that it would be increasing the EQC rate insured homeowners pay from 15c per $100 of cover capped at $207 a year to 20c per $100 to a maximum of $276 per year.
The increase could result in people paying up to $69 more per year on their insurance. This comes at a time when the government was already planning a 40 per cent increase in the fire service levy.
The fire service levy increase comes in from July 1 while the EQC levy increase will come in on November 1.
For more info please see this article
Is selling your home taxable?, Or in other words, do you have to pay tax when selling your home?
Buying and selling your private or family home typically is not taxable. However some are looking to purchase a family home with the intention of reselling it in time, and a few earn their income this way – buying and selling.
If you have established a pattern of purchasing and then selling your “family home,” this could be considered as property speculation or dealing for tax purposes.
So, how do you know whether you are considered a property speculator, dealer or investor? Click here for the IRD definition
Things to consider in answering the above question:
How do you know if selling your home will be taxable? Think carefully about the answers to these five questions.
“Ok, so I just have to hold onto a property for a really long time and then I’m not considered a dealer?” No. The amount of time you hold the property is immaterial. It’s your intention at the time of acquisition.If you bought a property with the intention of reselling it, then any capital gain that you make on the sale taxable.
“Right-o. So, is there some sort of level? That is, my first couple of properties are tax-free and then I pay tax after that?” Ahhh… no. Again, it’s intention, patterns and associations – not numbers of properties sold.
“Great. It looks like I will have to pay tax then. How do I figure that out?” The IRD have a great resource here – or you can contact us.
* For a definition/more info please see this article at the IRD Tax Policy website
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Accounting for your rental residential investment property; general taxation advice.