Federal Budget 2017 features that affect Australia's real estate: Ed Chan

Federal Budget 2017 features that affect Australia's real estate: Ed Chan
Federal Budget 2017 features that affect Australia's real estate: Ed Chan

GUEST OBSERVER

For active investors, the Budget comes with positive changes such as in super and home ownership but many are negative such as targeted measures against the banks and sharp cutbacks on property tax breaks. Everyone will be affected by the recently delivered Budget and here are some key features that affect properties:

The government has constantly been pressured to scrap borrowing in super but it has not reversed its position and SMSF operators can still borrow. However, there is a new super cap of $1.6 million and borrowed funds will be computed based on the $1.6 million cap.

Starting 1st July 2017, first-home buyers may salary sacrifice up to $15,000 or a total of $30,000 a year into their superannuation account at a concessional tax rate. They will be allowed to withdraw the cash to use as a deposit on their first home. This measure allows super to be accessed early.

Those who will sell a property investment will be subject to CGT at a marginal tax rate but those who hold a property for more than a year will get a discount of 50 percent on their CGT tax assessment. The negative gearing tax rate remained the same and investors can claim expenses and interest for the cost of an investment property against their tax bill. One advantage of higher interest rates among commercial banks is that the amount that can be deducted in negative gearing increases.

Downsizers may be able to make post-tax contribution to superannuation of up to $300,000 from the proceeds of selling their home, even if they exceed the $1.6 million cap. Investors will no longer be able to claim tax deductions for travel expenses related to inspection, maintenance or rent collection of a property. Many investors have properties a long distance away from their home and they incur travel expenses when they visit their investments.

This change may upset many investors because an outright ban on claims for travel expenses is an absolute loss. It used to have no limit and the allowance may have been abused because the government expects to collect $540 million from the scrapped tax allowance starting 1st of July.

Depreciation deductions may only be claimed on personally purchased items for an investment property, excluding plant and equipment which was included with the purchase. These measures will not please many investors but the truth is, it is to their advantage that negative gearing remained untouched because any changes related to this could have been more dramatic. Investors are relieved that the changes have not gone further as well.

Lastly, foreign property investors will lose the CGT exemption on the sale of their main residence and are now required to report all sales over $750,000 or have a withholding tax applied upon sale. There will also be a new annual levy of at least $5,000 for properties left vacant for more than six months a year.

PS.

Disallowing deductions for travel expenses and depreciating assets not directly bought by the investor may be the thin edge of the wedge and increasing deductions for work-related expenses can be quite worrisome. This change is controversial and some people suggest that if it is a step towards a slow-down of deductions for Australian taxpayers, debate has to begin now.

Ed Chan is the founding partner of Chan & Naylor.

Tags: 
Federal Budget Property Investors

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