Ask Margaret: How can I restructure my loan to minimise my tax liabilities?

Ask Margaret: How can I restructure my loan to minimise my tax liabilities?
Ask Margaret: How can I restructure my loan to minimise my tax liabilities?

Hi Margaret,

My wife and I are considering building a duplex on the Sydney residential block where we currently live in our principal place of residence. The loan on the home is in my wife's name only and the balance of the mortgage is held in cash in the offset facility.

Our plan is to borrow to build the duplex, live in one and use the rental income from the other to pay down the loan and keep them both. We would both like to be signatories on the new loan. From a gearing perspective my wife is most likely to be the highest salary earner over the life of the loan.

My question then is what would be the best way to refinance/restructure the loan to minimise our tax liabilities? Alternatively, who would be the best person to approach for advice on this matter? Our accountant? Taxation specialist? Mortgage broker?

Margaret Lomas' answer is on the next page. Please click below.

You will need to check with your accountant for your own individual circumstances, but I would suggest that he or she will most likely advise you that, for tax purposes, the land owner ( your wife) is treated as the recipient of all income / deductions including interest.

You have not specified if she is the only one of the two of you on the certificate of title - if so then only your wife gets the deductions. If you are both on title, but the loan is only in your wife's name, you need to check on her deductibility status, as I would suggest that the entire loan may not be deductible if only half the property is hers.

The name on any loans is irrelevant - except in regards to providing the security for the debt - as it is treated for tax as "on lent". I always tell people to be very careful when they structure their loans as the bank may not be giving the correct advice, or any advice at all in regards to structure. 

The bank will notoriously protect themselves by seeking commitment from both parties (where there is more than one) even where both parties may not be on the title, and this can really play around with your ultimate deductibility. 

I would have to say that when a new client comes to my company, Destiny, eight times out of 10 they have the wrong structure in place.  At times this can be fixed, but at others it cannot, and the best we can do is ensure that going forward, all is correct!

With regard to the new loan for the duplex, you must have your accountant correctly establish the relationship between the current debt in your wife's name and the present property, which is your Principal Place of Residence (PPOR). This is because the portion of the end debt which relates to the PPOR will not carry any deductions, while any portion of the debt relating to the new part of the build will be if it is income producing.

In relation to obtaining that new debt for the build, I am not sure why, if your wife will be the higher income earner, you wish to have this new loan in both names.

The highest income earner brings the highest deductions, and therefore the property and loan is best placed in that person's name, as long as you expect this situation to continue. In any event, even if you do use both names on any new debt, this won't change the fact that the title is in her name and so the deductions are hers.

You can only change this if, prior to undertaking the project, you essentially buy half of the property off your wife. You will pay stamp duty on half of the market value of the whole property, even if she sells it to you for a nominal amount.

I am not sure where you live, but in some states (such as Victoria) you can make a transfer of title by way of 'love and affection' and avoid this stamp duty - so check with the office of state revenue in your state.

When you do rent out the new property, be careful how you manage the rental income to pay off your personal debt.  he tax office does not like you to capitalise interest on an investment debt, and it will be critical for you to get proper tax advice appropriate to your personal circumstances before undertaking any rapid mortgage reduction strategy.

At the end of the day, always check with your accountant before making any move at all. 

Well-meaning mortgage brokers and banks are not usually able to provide you with the right kind of guidance in this very complex area. 

Margaret Lomas

Margaret Lomas

Margaret Lomas is a best-selling author and writes and hosts the popular Property Success With Margaret Lomas and Your Money, Your Call, both on Sky News. She is the founder of Destiny.

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