SUMMARY OF CHANGES
Changes announced in April 2021 by the government:
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT ME?
At present, when you receive rents, you can offset expenses against that rental income to reduce the taxable profit. A big part of this is interest paid on the rental mortgage/s.
If the expenses are more than the income (a "loss"), the Ring Fencing laws mean the loss can't offset non-rental income, and the loss instead is carried forward to the next year. If you have two or more rentals, the loss from one property can offset the profit from another (depending on how your affairs are structured).
However, under these new laws, the interest deduction will (over 4 years) be reduced, then finally removed. Rental properties will make more profit, and for almost everyone: there will be a lot of tax to pay.
And of course, if you can't claim the expenses on interest, but still have to pay it... where does the money come from? You have to raise the rent.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Q: So what can I claim?
A: You can claim all the usual costs e.g. property management, repairs & maintenance, rates, insurance, legal etc. Re interest: It depends on timing. The following chart shows how much you can claim, depending on when you "acquired" the property:
Q: How do I work out the tax impact?
A: The calculator below will help you work out the taxable income. The exact tax depends on many things e.g. owned personally or via a trust or LTC? How much wages you receive etc etc. Note that this calculator assumes you already own/have "acquired" the investment property/ies.
Q: My rental was a new build. Does it still qualify as a new build under these laws?
A: Probably not.
Q: Is short-stay accommodation caught by the new interest deductibility limitations?
A: It would appear that mixed-use-assets (MUAs) - which are holiday homes partly used personally and which are vacant for at least 62 days in a year - are not caught by these new rules, but IRD specify this (at 2.33) "the Government considers it important that where a residential property could be used to provide long-term rental accommodation, the income tax treatment is the same whether the property is used to provide long-term rental accommodation or short-stay accommodation. Any income tax advantage provided for properties used for short-stay accommodation could reduce effective housing supply." In other words, it would seem that yes, it is caught. Just remember that this is all "draft" at this stage, so not actual law.
Q: When did I "acquire" my rental property?
A: For tax purposes, a property is generally acquired on the date a binding sale and purchase agreement is entered into (even if some conditions still need to be met). More info here. Note that for the purposes of the changes outlined here, a property acquired on or after 27 March 2021 will be treated as having been acquired before 27 March 2021, if the purchase was the result of an offer the purchaser made on or before 23 March 2021 that cannot be withdrawn before 27 March 2021.
Q: My property sale will be taxable due to the Bright-Line Test (BLT). Can I claim the interest costs in that scenario?
A: No one knows. IRD say "The Government will consult on the detail of these proposals. Consultation will cover an exemption for new builds acquired as a residential investment property, and whether all people who are taxed on the sale of a property (for example under the bright-line tests) should be able to deduct their interest expense at the time of the sale."
Q: How do the "main home" changes work?
A: Actually, it reminds us a bit of how CGT works in Aussie. There is a great explanation at Stuff together with an example. (Thanks Stuff.co.nz!)
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 wheer you are an investor?
How do you know if selling your home will be taxable? Think carefully about the answers to these five questions.
Q. Ok, so I just have to hold onto a property for a really long time and then I’m not considered a dealer?
A. 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.
Q. 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?
A. Ahhh… no. Again, it’s intention, patterns and associations – not numbers of properties sold.
Q. What period of Brightline Test applies to my house?
A. The bright-line property rule looks at whether the property was acquired:
Q. What about sub-dividing? Is that taxable?
A. That's a big subject. Contact us.
Q. Great. It looks like I might have to pay tax then. How do I figure that out?
A. Contact us.
* For more info see this link at Inland Revenue
What will the new tax rates in NZ mean for you? Now that the election is decided, there will be a new tax rate to deal with in 2021: 39% on personal income exceeding $180,000 per year.
These coming changes emphasize how important it is to have the right business and/or investment structures in place. There will be tax planning opportunities arising out of the difference between the trust tax rate (33%), the company tax rate (28%), the present top personal tax rate (33%) and the new top personal tax rate (39%).
If you would like a review of your tax position and structure, please complete the contact form below or call us on 099730706 line 2
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
1. MORTAGE HOLIDAY: In other news, with the OCR dropping to (and staying at) 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.
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. INTEREST RATES: Check with your bank re break fees on your loans, and look at whether the math adds up to break and renegotiate one or some loans at lower interest rates.
3. RENTS: Rent increases are worth considering, as you can now only increase the rent once a year.
4. 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.
5. 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. Heads-up: Banks are deluged with lending applications, so getting mortgage approval is slow
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
What business expenses can you deduct in your income tax return? It depends on your business structure, but includes things such as:
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
What are your options for managing your loan or mortgage during the COVID-19 outbreak?
RESTRUCTURE / renegotiate
Depending on when you last fixed your loans, you may be able to get a lower rate now. Look into what the bank's break fee would be (break fees are deductible on rental properties); chat to your mortgage advisor if the bank isn't playing ball. Or if they are being greedy at a difficult time.
You might also be able to push the loan term out e.g. from 25 years to 30 years. Yes it will cost you more interest but will improve cash flow now by lowering repayments.
It's not really a "holiday", but rather a "payment deferral." How does it work? While you don't have to make payments during the mortgage holiday, you still get charged interest. What's that going to cost? Well, it could be significant. If your loan is 500k, then it could add about 15k to it (assuming 4% interest p.a.). If you didn't increase your repayments once the holiday is over, you'd pay about 35k more on your loan!
So, think carefully about this. One thing you can do is request the 6-monthly holiday, then if you don't need all six months, end the holiday and renegotiate.
MORTGAGE HOLIDAY + VOLUNTARY REPAYMENTS
As above, but you keep making payments as you can afford them. This will give you some relief but reduce the interest on the loan. Or save money, and then whack it on the loan when you go back to work/cashflow returns to normal. Achieves a similar thing.
Instead of paying principal and interest, look at paying interest-only. There should be no break-fee for this at the moment. Just keep in mind that if property values drop, you could end up owing more than the property is worth. It has happened, but is unlikely.
You may be able to extend the term of your loan, which would lower repayments. Of course, you will pay more interest in the long-term, but it will help immediate cashflow.
Inland Revenue have released the September 2019 Tax Information Bulletin (TIB), which clarifies this.
For the purposes of this blog post, we are going to assume that the LTC or an individual only holds residential rental property i.e. no commercial, they are not a trader or an associated person or a developer etc, they don't have an Airbnb-style short-stay accommodation house in the picture.
Can losses from an LTC with residential rental property be offset against income from rentals owned by a partnership or in your personal name?
It depends on whether
However, the answer is essentially, "Yes", if:
So the result is, you can have a negatively-geared LTC, and given the above points, the losses can flow through to you as a shareholder. You can then offset this against profits from a personally-owned rental (either solely owned or in a partnership). The situation also works in reverse ie there are profits in the LTC and losses in the personal/partnership rental.
Note that you can't offset any losses against income from other sources e.g. wages, like you used to in the good old days. That is what the concept of "ring-fencing of losses" means. The losses are "ring-fenced" so that they only apply to residential rental property.
Some interesting points
Do restructure strategies such as selling your old family home to an LTC still work?
We have previously recommended this, in blog posts such as this one. The answer is that yes, the rules are unchanged, and this still effectively meets IRD requirements for interest deductibility and remains a good strategy.
However, just be aware that any losses are ring-fenced, as described above. For more info, the IRD Sept 2019 TIB is below
As always, situations vary, so please contact us for advice on your specific situation. Call 099730706 or email us here
Capital Gains Tax (if it happens): what will be the effects on rental properties? What strategies could be employed to minimise tax effects? Here is a high-level overview:
WHAT WILL BE TAXED?
Everything except your grandma.
No, not quite. All land except family home, shares, business assets and intangible property. Seems that cars, boats, jewellry, fine art, collectibles and other household durable items would also be excluded.
HOW MUCH TAX?
At present, it would be at the tax rate of who/whatever owns the asset i.e. if a person, and they are earning $70k/year, then 33c/$. However, the common view is that this will be watered down to something more like the Australian rate, which is a flat 15c/$.
That being said, the proposal is to extend the lowest tax threshold of 10.5c/$ from $14k/ year to $20k/year, which is $420/year extra. Break out the party poppers.
Note also, that the proposal includes allowing depreciation on buildings once again. The more things change the more they stay the same! It would also allow deductions for seismic strengthening, something more likely to help commercial property investors.
WHAT'S THE TIMEFRAME?
It isn't going to be backdated, but seems that businesses will have up to five years to work out what the market value of the assets as at April 2021 was.
WHO WILL BE TAXED?
You'll pay CGT on your worldwide assets if you* are tax resident in NZ, e.g., sell a rental property in Australia: CGT will be calculated in NZ. One would imagine however, that where there is a Double Tax Agreement (DTA), then that country has primary taxing rights, and NZ would recognise the CGT paid on that asset sale.
We asked MortgageLab to give us their unique perspective as mortgage advisors. You'll enjoy reading some useful insights and tips from Rupert Gough here.
Forsyth Barr make the following observations:
For more insights and advice on your portfolio, go to
* By "you" we mean the entity that owns the asset
+ Note that if you use part of your family home for Airbnb or want to claim home office costs or if the home is bigger than 4500 m2, then CGT would apply. See this link for more info.
Reference to comments by Mortgage Lab and Forsyth Barr is done with kind permission of each party. This does not constitute an endorsement of Epsomtax.com Limited. All rights belong to their respective owners.
BILL SUMMARY FROM IRD
Ring fencing of property losses is here to stay. What will be the impact, and what strategies should you employ? How will it affect you? Will you still get a tax refund? Here is the latest summary from IRD and our discussion below.
So, from 19/20 financial year it is much harder to get losses from your rental onto your personal tax return. And therefore, goodbye tax refund for most; less refund for others. Rents will likely rise as investors can't get a tax refund to the same degree. Some investors will opt to sell. Others will be able to grow their portfolio.
This blog post has some good stuff in it, but see also our latest post here
* IRD stated in the draft bill: "... we suggest that the ring-fencing rules generally apply on a portfolio basis, so a person with multiple properties would calculate their overall profit or loss across their whole residential portfolio... we are recommending that taxpayers who wish to elect to apply the rules on a property-by-property basis be able to do so. We... do not consider that ring-fenced losses should generally be fully released on a taxable sale of residential property, meaning the losses (if not exhausted from offsetting the income derived on sale) would be able to be used to offset other income. However, for those properties which have had the rules applied to them on a property-by-property basis on the taxpayer’s election, we recommend that the losses become fully unfenced if they are taxed upon sale. This would also be the case where the rules applied on a portfolio basis and all of the properties in a portfolio were sold and taxed. This would most commonly be the case for land that was taxable under the bright-line test because it was sold within five years of acquisition."
So, what does that mean?
Accounting for your rental residential investment property; specialised property tax advice. Buy me a coffee!