WHAT CAN YOU DO?
1. LOANS: In other news, with the OCR dropping to 0.25%, your bank should be passing on rate cuts for any floating loans, and it is worth looking at existing loans to see if you should break and re-fix or extend the term. Break fees are tax-deductible. Ask the bank or your mortgage advisor to do the calculations for you, or use this tool here. You might also want to look at a mortgage holiday, but just be aware that this will increase the loan,^ but it will buy you some time, so in the big picture, may be worth it. We suggest you only do this if you really need to i.e. don't rush and organise that with your bank or broker today; wait a couple of weeks to see how things pan out. (By the same token, if doing so relieves you of stress, then it is probably well worth it. Don't feel bad, either way. These are unprecedented events.)
Please see this detailed page with info about mortgage holidays, including links for all the major banks to apply for one. See also our blog post with 4 options for your mortgage to improve cash-flow right now
2. RENTS: Rent increases are off the table at the moment, as rents have been frozen by the government. In Australia, landlords have been asked to be lenient if tenants start to get behind on their rent, and we suggest you keep in close contact with your property manager over the coming months.
3. PAYMENTS: Of course, cash-flow is king, and in this environment, we suggest asking your suppliers if you can start paying in smaller regular installments, rather than bigger sums. This will help reduce the impact of having less cash coming in. EpsomTax.com group offer interest-free time payment plans to all customers as a matter of course; please contact us to arrange this now.
4. INVESTING: This might also be the time to look out for housing bargains - see this article about timing and buying. If you can get a good deal on a cash-flow positive rental, that's going to introduce some $ into your portfolio. Banks are working as normal, and documents can be signed remotely. Of course, inspecting properties is an issue, and getting tenants in (as moving services are likely not considered to be "essential." Nonetheless, getting pre-approval and "looking" (online/via video) at houses can still be done during this time.
Q: An LTC owns rental properties. Some tenants have stopped paying or reduced payments by 30% due to COVID-19. Can the shareholder-employees receive the wage subsidy? What about a sole trader or partnership or trust that owns a rental/s, same situation? Can they apply?
A: Yes. Tenancy Services has a page on the impact of COVID-19. It (previously) said:
If you are likely to continue having trouble, think about other options:
We note that this sentence above has, as of August 2020, been removed from the page. We also note that some landlords have received a subsidy, whereas others have been declined. We suggest you appeal if you are automatically declined, and consult with your accountant. Inland Revenue's "pat" answer to Ministry of Social Development is not always correct.
The key thing to bear in mind when applying is to be well prepared, frank and open about all relevant facts.* Your application will need to identify the people to whom the subsidy relates and, in the case of the LTC, partnership or trust, undertake to use best endeavours to keep them on as shareholder-employees. See here for the declaration that needs to be made.
6. OTHER RESOURCES: Xero.com have provided a page with links to educational content. You don't have to be a Xero user to access all of it. Webinars include managing stress, resilience, business continuity and so on.
What good news is there for the coming weeks and months, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the economy?
Government policy changes include:
* The wage subsidy and leave payments are NOT subject to GST - an Order in Council was passed to treat it as exempt (Section 5(6E)(B)(iii GST Act). The wage subsidy paid to the employer is not taxable; it is excluded income under section CX 47 of the Income Tax Act 2007; it is also therefore not deductible when paid by the employer as part of wages to employees. The payments made to employees are taxable for the employee and subject to PAYE, KiwiSaver deductions, Student loan etc in normal way. The same is true for self-employed persons: it is taxable income. NB: you only need to show a 30% revenue reduction for a single 4-week period to receive the full 12-week lump sum; you should be able to show that you took active steps to mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19, which could include drawing from your cash reserves (as appropriate), activating your business continuity plan, making an insurance claim, proactively engaging with your bank or seeking advice and support from either the Chamber of Commerce, a relevant industry association or the Regional Business Partner programme.
^ How it works is that the principal payments temporarily stop and the interest is added to the mortgage
NB: It is fair to point out that we are accountants and not lawyers. The measures taken by the Government are being monitored and may be changed, as they see fit. Our answers are based on our understanding of the somewhat limited information that has been made available publicly at this point.
In addition to the measures announced (see this article and this article), the government recently announced several new measures (this article was updated 22/05/20:
TAX LOSS CARRY-BACK SCHEME
IRD say "Businesses expecting to make a loss in either the 2019/20 year or the 2020/21 year would be able to estimate the loss and use it to offset profits in the past year. In other words, they could carry the loss back one year. This change means we could refund some or all the tax already paid for the year they were in profit. It means firms could cash out all or some of their losses in 2019/20 or 2020/21. Without this change, firms would have to carry forward any loss to a year when they make a profit."
Points to note:
If you are unable to pay this tax on time because of the effect of COVID-19 on your business, IRD expect that you will pay this tax as soon as practicable. In such cases our recommendation is that you contact IRD now to let them know you can’t pay the tax on time and negotiate a payment plan. That will typically be an arrangement to pay the tax over a number of months (or fortnightly or even weekly), and possibly with a deferred payment start date. As part of that process, although this is not specifically mentioned on the IRD website, a pre-requisite may be that you have applied to your bank for some help under the business finance support package underwritten by Government. The advantage of talking to IRD as soon as possible is that you will most likely qualify for remission of late payment penalties and interest.
If you would like us to talk to IRD on your behalf, please let us know at your convenience. We will then contact you to discuss the best approach, and whether or not to use this or tax pooling.
* IRD can remit Use of Money Interest (UOMI) and penalties; criteria are:
To prove you've been "significantly affected", you'll likely need to provide at least three months’ banks statements and/or credit card statements, a list of aged creditors and debtors and probably profit and loss statements and/or balance sheet from your business.
Alternatively, you might also be able to apply to
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.
How to View Documents
You will be sent an email with a link. Click on the link to view the document. This will open in a web browser on your device. To view the document, click on it.
How to Approve Documents
Click on the email link once again, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the green approve button if you are happy with the contents.
From the 2018 income year (that is, 1 April 2017 onwards), the safe harbour threshold has been increased! Hooray, I hear you say. It's gone from $50,000 to $60,000. It has also been extended to non-individual taxpayers e.g. companies.
What does this mean? Use of Money Interest (UOMI) will only be payable from terminal tax date* for natural persons and non-individuals where their residual income tax liability is less than $60,000 and the following requirements have been met:
The taxpayer must have:
There are a couple of other points: The requirement that they must not have held an RWT exemption certificate at any time during the year has been removed. Oh, and there is an anti-avoidance rule as well, so that you can't manipulate your incomes to fall within the safe harbour provisions.
See this article for the 2020 changes to provisional tax. Basically, you'll have to pay provisional tax if you had to pay more than $5,000 tax at the end of the year from your last return. $2,500 was the threshold for years before the 2020 return
* Terminal tax date is either 7th February if you do not have an accountant or tax agent OR 7th April if you have an accountant or tax agent who has an extension of time on your behalf.... more info
# Standard method is last years residual income tax + 5%, OR your residual income from two years ago + 10% (only if you haven't filed last year's return yet)... more info
Why is a chattels valuation necessary?
Typical valuations assign a valuation to chattels of $10-15,000. However, they often miss many depreciable items, such as driveways, fences, decks, paths, hot water cylinder, letterbox, garage door motor etc.
When you obtain a chattels-specific valuation, typically the value of the chattels for a new home is $45-50,000+ and for one built in the 1980’s $25-30,000. Even if your chattels valuation comes out at only $30,000 then the value for the tax refund will be around $10,000. The higher the chattels value, the more depreciation can be claimed, which means less tax to pay or larger tax refunds.
Are there any exceptions?
The only exception to the chattels valuation, is if it was a rental already owned by you or another entity you controlled, and you had already filed a tax return for that property at least once. In that case, we can’t “re-value” the chattels.
What will it cost and who does this?
We know of only one firm: ValuIt. Visit their website www.valuit.co.nz or call 0508 482 583 to book a valuation. Please note, we receive no financial incentive or otherwise for recommending them. However, we encourage you to do this without delay, as they are very busy and it can often be 2-3 weeks before someone can get to see your property.
Depreciation: Simple Overview (video)
6 Minutes on Depreciation (video)
Depreciation Clawback and Your Rental Property
Depreciation of Chattels in Your Rental Investment Property
Valuation of Chattels - Why Necessary
First, open your sheet on your iPhone or iPad.
Next, touch the three dots at the top right-hand corner
Then, choose Send a Copy
Lastly, email to us or share to your Google Drive or Dropbox.com, then share to firstname.lastname@example.org
What does this have to do with your tax? Well, we might have asked you to supply information, clarify a request etc etc. We know you're busy! But we don't hear from you promptly. Instead, it drags on and on.
Frankly, that doesn't help you, us, anyone!
So, what we ask is this
1. stop for a moment,
2. send through the info,
3. get their tax refund sooner!
Moral: Stop and sharpen your axe. Work smarter, not harder!
You've established that there are good economic reasons for changing the shareholding in your LTC that owns rental residential property. You and your life partner are the shareholders. What things do you need to consider so that you don't get hit with a nasty (and unexpected) tax bill?
1. Brightline Test
2. Shareholders Current Account
Let's say that the company owes the shareholders $150,000. This is tracked in the Shareholders Current Account, and is a liability (debt) of the LTC.
Bob has 99 shares, and Mary has 1. Bob will sell/transfer 49 of his shares to Mary so that they each have 50 shares. Let’s say at the moment, Bob and Mary are owed $75,000 each by the company.
The LTC has made losses so is technically “insolvent”. The ramification of this is that as 49% of the shares are transferred there is a deemed disposal of 49% of the both advances being a total of $73,500 at a market value of zero (due to the company being insolvent).
Under special tax rules the $73,500 is initially deemed to be income of the LTC to be taxed to the owners in proportion to their shareholding (Bob $72,765 and Mary $235). Under recently-amended income tax rules, this income will not be taxed to the extent it is in proportion to shareholding. In this example Bob has debt of 50% for a shareholding of 99% and Mary has debt of 50% for a shareholding of 1%. Under the new rules he will be taxed on 49% of the debt being $73,500 and Mary will not have taxable income.
In this scenario, the de minimis* threshold of $50,000 would be exceeded when Bob transfers his shares (as the deemed income is $73,500). This same issue arises when either the LTC status is revoked or the company is wound up.
Going forward, ideally all LTC shareholder debt should be in proportion to shareholding. Between family members this can be achieved by way of an assignment of debt as that is another way of presenting what is happening. Then going forward debt should be transferred along with shareholding so the debt stays in proportion.
3. Depreciable Assets With Costs Over $200,000?
Is the cost of any of the LTC’s depreciable assets more than $200,000 each? If so, you then need to ask: Is the value of the accumulated depreciation on assets per shareholder more than $50,000 (the "de minimis" threshold)? If so, then there could be tax implications.
Be aware that changing shares (or ownership % in a partnership) partially starts the 5-year Brightline Test again.
For example, if you moved 5 shares (of a total of 100) from you to your wife, then sold the property within 5 years of that change, then 5/100 (5%) of the sale profits (sale price less fees less original purchase price = sale profits) would be classed as taxable income (for the person who “sold” the shares).
So, if the gain was $100,000, 5% is $5,000. So in this scenario, $5,000 would be taxable income.
Please contact us for advice. You may also want to read this related blog article "Are Tax Benefits a Good Reason to Make Changes?"
* "de minimis" is a Latin expression meaning about minimal things, normally in the locutions de minimis non curat praetor ("The praetor does not concern himself with trifles") or de minimis non curat lex ("The law does not concern itself with trifles") a legal doctrine by which a court refuses to consider trifling matters.
We often get asked "how much longer will IRD take?" How can you check on the progress of your tax return at IRD? Are they processing it? Is there a problem?
Well, there is a free, simple and easy way you can check yourself:
1. Create a myIR account.
Make sure the address in the bar at the top starts with https://www2.e-services.ird.govt.nz. This is to make sure you haven't ended up at a fake website. There should also be a little padlock showing in the title bar at one end.
Generally you will be wanting to find out how the processing of your personal tax return is going, so choose this option (see graphic)
2. Next, enter your IRD number and then click Continue.
3. Then, enter your details and click Continue.
4. Check the details, and tick the box, then click Continue.
5. Voila! You will receive an email confirmation. You are now ready to view your info using myIR, including the status of your tax return processing.
Accounting for your rental residential investment property; specialised property tax advice. Buy me a coffee!