Investor’s Guide to Residential Property Depreciation 

Investor’s Guide to Residential Property Depreciation 
Investor’s Guide to Residential Property Depreciation 

There’s no doubt that depreciation can make a significant difference to any investor’s cash flow, but how does it work? 

What is property depreciation?

As a property gets older, its structure and assets wear out – they depreciate. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) permits owners of income-producing properties to claim this depreciation as a tax deduction.

What can be claimed?

Depreciation is claimed under two categories, capital works and plant and equipment. 

Capital works deductions are claimed on the building’s structure and any permanently fixed assets. Common assets that are claimed under capital works include driveways, walls, basins and roofs. 

Plant and equipment deductions are claimed on assets that are considered to be easily removable or mechanical in nature. Some common examples of plant and equipment assets include air-conditioning units, blinds, hot water systems and flooring. 

How is depreciation calculated? 

Property investors can claim capital works deductions at a rate of 2.5 per cent for up to forty years. Capital works deductions generally make up an average of 85 to 90 per cent of a total depreciation claim. 

Depreciation for plant and equipment assets differs from depreciation of capital works. These assets are generally depreciated based on their effective life through the diminishing value or prime cost method. 

The diminishing value method is the most commonly used method of depreciation for plant and equipment assets. Under this method, depreciation deductions are calculated as a percentage of the asset’s depreciable balance. This results in higher deductions in the earlier years of ownership. 

Alternatively, the prime cost method calculates depreciation as a percentage of the cost. When the prime cost method is used, deductions are not as high in initial years but are spread out over time and produce a more even claim each financial year. 

Claiming depreciation with the low-value pool or immediate write-off

Depreciation deductions on plant and equipment assets can be claimed sooner through the low-value pool or as an immediate write-off. 

The low-value pool allows qualifying assets to be depreciated at an accelerated rate. Assets in the pool can be claimed at a rate of 18% in the first year, and 37.5% each following year. 

There are two different ways that an asset can qualify for a low-value pool:

  • Low-cost asset: Is a depreciable asset with an opening value of less than $1,000. 
  • Low-value asset: Is a depreciable asset that has a written down value of less than $1,000. This means the asset’s value was more than $1,000 in the year of acquisition but the residual value of depreciation is now less than $1,000.

The immediate write-off is also available for eligible low-cost assets. For individual residential investors, qualifying assets that cost $300 or less can be claimed as an immediate write-off. 

Depreciation and renovations 

Significant depreciation deductions can be claimed before and after a renovation has been completed on an investment property

A process called scrapping allows property owners to claim deductions for the un-deducted value of removed assets in the year they were removed. To take advantage of scrapping, a depreciation schedule must be arranged both before and after the renovation takes place. 

How does property tax depreciation boost cash flow?

property depreciation is a non-cash deduction that essentially reduces a property owner’s taxable income. This means they pay less tax each financial year without paying for any additional costs. 

To claim depreciation, a tax depreciation schedule completed by a specialist quantity surveyor is essential.

Estimating depreciation deductions before buying an investment property

Owning an investment property is a balancing act of income and expenses. When deciding whether to buy an investment property, investors should consider obtaining a depreciation estimate of the property they are looking to buy

Bradley Beer

Bradley Beer

Bradley Beer joined BMT Tax Depreciation in 1998 as a Quantity Surveyor before becoming a director and shareholder in 2002. Since then, he has been instrumental in building BMT from the ground up and became Chief Executive Officer in 2015.

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