Investment property renovation tax tips.Write-off tax immediately!

Renovating an investment property benefits the property investor in many financial ways. Tax benefits and methods include residual value write-off and tax depreciation schedules. Detailed below are tips to minimise tax and improve the cash flow of your property investment.

tax benefits for the renovator, renovator, tax benefits for the renovator, Investment property renovation, residual value write-off

tax benefits for the renovator

Property investors wishing to renovate their property usually do so to add capital value, attract better clients and improve rental income. In regards to tax purposes, according to the ATO, property that is used for income-producing purposes has tax-deductible expenses. Some of these expenses can be claimed immediately, as well as year-on-year, over numerous years. In this instance, both positively geared and negatively geared properties would benefit from these deductions.


What can a property investor claim?

Depreciation for properties (technically referred to as Capital Allowance for Plant & Equipment and Capital Works Deductions), by way of a Tax Depreciation Schedule report, is one way property investors can make tax claims year-on-year,  over numerous years.


Items that fall under the Capital Allowance category includes kitchen appliances, window treatments (blinds curtains, shutters etc.), carpets etc. In fact, the Commissioner of Taxation stipulates almost 200 items that incur capital allowances for residential property investors alone. Other property types i.e commercial can even have more! Deductions for Capital Works are another expense that a residential property investor can claim for. 


Capital Works are those works that incur construction expenditure e.g. those of a structural nature. They include such things as the erection of buildings, extensions, alterations or improvements and structural improvements. Therefore deduction for capital works are construction expenditure in respect of construction of capital works. For a property investor to make the most of both capital allowances for plant & equipment and deductions of capital works, a registered quantity surveyor (a quantity surveyor who is also a registered tax agent) would be engaged to physically inspect the property and produce a tax depreciation schedule. The ATO states (TR 97/25) ‘a quantity surveyor to be appropriately qualified’ to provide estimates in relation to producing tax depreciation schedules.


Pre-Renovation claims i.e Residual Value Write-Off (immediate write-off items)

With any property renovation, there will always be a demolition component and removal of items. Although demolition costs are not claimable in tax depreciation schedules, property investors may have the potential to claim for the ‘residual value of items’ for disposal. Known as Residual Value Write-Off Deductions. Sometimes referred to as ‘scrapping’, (not an ATO term, but used by some quantity surveyors). What does this mean?


Residual Value Write-Off Deductions means the ‘value left in tax claimable items’ that can be written off immediately, in the financial year of disposal against the taxpayer’s tax. I.e the capital allowances for plant & equipment and capital works deductions items in the property investment that the property investor can write-off against their income tax statements, with the ATO, in the relevant financial year.


For example, the property investor plans to renovate a kitchen and rip out the twenty year old styled and installed kitchen cabinets. Such cabinets being replaced will potentially still have about 20 years of depreciation remaining, (base on allowed 40 years of depreciation). Say the cabinets cost $15,000 to install (a reasonable install price for a basic kitchen cupboard arrangement). The residual value of those kitchen cabinets could amount to around $7,500. This amount can be written-off by the property investor immediately in the financial year that they were disposed of, i.e. The complete $7500 amount against their tax in that same financial year!

Without the property investor’s knowledge of ‘Residual Value Write-Off Deductions’ such items would otherwise be substantial forfeited immediate write-off claims by the property investor. 


It is therefore prudent to engage a registered quantity surveyor to undertake a pre-renovation inspection in order to capture, quantity and value the pre-renovation residual value items write-off items.



Post-renovation, it is wise to also have a depreciation schedule for the new assets and ‘works’ completed following the renovation.


Engaging an experienced and registered Quantity Surveyor (QS) is your first step following a renovation for investment purposes. A physical inspection by a QS of the property in order to produce a comprehensive tax depreciation schedule report helps to maximise the deductions and allowances that the property investor can claim. These deductions and allowances can amass hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax savings (case studies found here).


Although renovations are a great way to add extra capital value to the property investment, it is unwise to over-capitalise. There needs to be a balance struck. Yes, deductions and capital allowances are available to the property investor. 


When undertaking renovation works, be prudent with your record-keeping. This includes documenting costs and trade invoices as these can be used for tax depreciation purposes. In any case an experienced and registered quantity surveyor can assist.


Engage a registered Quantity Surveyor

Who values and estimates the building and construction works and items? An experienced quantity surveyor.

The right quantity surveyor will further add value and make it possible for the property investor to maximise all the items for depreciation / even though they are being replaced. Not to mention, the aforementioned is in addition to all the other capital allowance and deductions for capital works and plant & equipment (mentioned earlier, that includes over 200 items in a residential property) that would also potentially be available to be claimed by the property investor by way of a comprehensive production of a Tax Depreciation Schedule (including a physical inspection by a registered quantity surveyor) for the said property investment for the property investor.


renovator, tax benefits for the renovator, Investment property renovation, residual value write-offIn summary

Having an investment renovation goal is important. An investment renovation goal may include increase in capital value, attracting a better client and more rental income is important. In the same fashion, having the correct tax information to maximse the potential of your investment property is equally important. All property investors should take advantage of depreciation deductions and allowances due to them with their income producing properties. This undertaking minimises tax and improves cash flow for the property investor.

Informed renovating property investors can further maximise the financial impact of their property investment renovation by chatting to a Quantity Surveyor.   

Engaging an experienced and registered quantity surveyor, have that same quantity surveyor physically inspect the property and to produce a comprehensive tax depreciation schedule (accounting for items pre and post renovation of the property investment) will help to add another financial benefit of renovating and owning a property investment for the investor.  



Have questions? Start here, Tax Depreciation FAQ

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