Australia tax: Landlords and property investors warned by ATO about real estate claims

Tax office issues a grim warning to more than two million Australians promising a major crackdown: ‘If the ATO calls you up and asks you a question, they already have the answer’

  • The ATO has warned property investors about having a clean record at tax time
  • Auditors will closely monitor real estate claims submitted by investors
  • Areas of focus include rental income, deductions and record-keeping of claims
  • More than 2.2million Aussies have rentals and claim $50billion each year 

Landlords and property investors have been warned by the Australian tax office to have accurate record when declaring rental income and deductions during tax season.

The ATO is keeping close watch on the more than 2.2 million Australians who have property investments and claim as much as $50billion in deductions each year.

That’s because more money is claimed as expenses than the value of the entire Australian rental market – worth $48billion.

Tax auditors during the Covid pandemic have been overly stretched and focusing on other areas, but now they say landlords are firmly in their sights.  

The four key areas are set to face the most scrutiny are rental and property income, deductions and record-keeping of claims.

The ATO has warned property investors to be meticulous with their records when declaring rental income and deductions during tax time (Stock image)

The ATO has warned property investors to be meticulous with their records when declaring rental income and deductions during tax time (Stock image)

As much as $50billion is claimed by property investors in deductions every year, which tops the $48billion in rental income recorded in the most recent tax statistics (Stock image)

As much as $50billion is claimed by property investors in deductions every year, which tops the $48billion in rental income recorded in the most recent tax statistics (Stock image)

Property tax specialist Shukri Barbara urged investors to be accurate with their records as the Australian tax office ramps up its auditing operations. 

‘Each year they move a bit forward with the technical ability to chase up stuff,’ she told the Nine Network.

‘If the ATO calls you up and asks you a question, they already have the answer.’

‘Make sure your paperwork and your records match up with what you’re going to claim. The tax office already has all the answers.’ 

Mr Barbara also recommended investors be mindful of the different claims they can make and whether they can be deducted or if they depreciate over time. 

Elinor Kasapidis, senior manager of tax policy at CPA Australia, said the tax office had taken a renewed interest in areas like rental income and record-keeping after they were sidetracked by other tax matters during the Covid pandemic. 

Rental property income, deductions and record-keeping of claims are the key areas the tax office will be focusing on during the tax season

Rental property income, deductions and record-keeping of claims are the key areas the tax office will be focusing on during the tax season 

The ATO's renewed focus on rental investment properties came after it was sidetracked during the pandemic (Stock image)

The ATO’s renewed focus on rental investment properties came after it was sidetracked during the pandemic (Stock image)

‘They will be scrutinising tax returns and the rental schedules. They’ll also be looking for things like undeclared income from renting out rooms or homes on a part-time basis,’ she said.

Ms Kasapidis claimed the renewed focus on those with rentals came after the ATO found investors were consistently either ‘over claiming’ or were ‘not been claiming correctly’.

She explained the process becomes even more complicated when investors live in their property for part of the year, like a holiday house.

‘People are claiming expenses for periods when they’re actually using their house for themselves, or their friends, or family are using the house. That’s not OK.’

She said owners should only claim ‘the parts that are ‘associated with rent’. 

Why lodging your tax return in the next fortnight to claw back $2,580 to help with the cost of living crisis could get you in BIG trouble with the law

By Stephen Johnson, economics reporter for Daily Mail Australia 

Australians who lodge their tax return in coming weeks – hoping for a $2,580 refund to help with the cost of living pressures – could find themselves in legal trouble with mistakes more likely.

The July 1 start of the new financial year is often taken as a sign individuals should submit their annual tax returns without delay to get their tax rebate.

Middle and average income earners are getting back $1,500 in tax offsets on top of another $1,080 in tax cuts introduced by the previous Coalition government.

With inflation running hot, everyday Australians would be hankering for $2,580 worth of tax relief to cope with surging costs of living. 

Many employers, however, are yet to submit the earnings of their staff to the tax office.

Details on shares, bank interest, cryptocurrency and private health insurance payments are also being finalised. 

Australians who lodge their tax return this week in a bid to get back $2,580 to help with the cost of living could be more likely to find themselves in trouble with the law. The July 1 start of the new financial year is often taken as a sign individuals should submit their annual tax returns without delay to get their tax rebate (pictured is a stock image)

Australians who lodge their tax return this week in a bid to get back $2,580 to help with the cost of living could be more likely to find themselves in trouble with the law. The July 1 start of the new financial year is often taken as a sign individuals should submit their annual tax returns without delay to get their tax rebate (pictured is a stock image)

Penalties for lying on a tax return

CARELESS: 25 per cent

RECKLESS: 50 per cent

DELIBERATE: 75 per cent

REPEAT OFFENDER: 95 per cent

Source: H&R Block analysis of Australian Taxation Office penalties for making inflated claims

Advertisement

Australian Taxation Office assistant commissioner Tim Loh told Daily Mail Australia those who scrambled to get in first were more likely to make a mistake and find themselves facing an audit.

‘The ATO often sees mistakes in early July as people rush to get their tax return done and forget to include income from government agencies, banks, dividends from shares and cryptocurrency exchanges,’ he said.

‘People who lodge in July are twice as likely to have their returns adjusted by the ATO. 

‘If people choose not to wait for prefill information, they increase their risk of ATO scrutiny.’

The tax office doesn’t even start processing returns until July 7 and would not be paying the first set to refunds until July 16.

Electronically submitted returns take 12 business days to process.

Employers have until July 14 to provide the pre-filled earnings data of their staff to the ATO, with this method replacing the old printed group certificate. 

The tax office uses data-matching technology to pre-fill information on wages, bank interest and share dividends.

H&R Block director of tax communications Mark Chapman said those who submitted their returns early needed to be mindful that pre-filled data submitted to the ATO, from employers to banks, often took several weeks to be ready.

Australian Taxation Office assistant commissioner Tim Loh told Daily Mail Australia those who scrambled to get in first were more likely to make a mistake and face a tax audit

Australian Taxation Office assistant commissioner Tim Loh told Daily Mail Australia those who scrambled to get in first were more likely to make a mistake and face a tax audit

‘Not all pre-fill data will be available until late July or early August, which means that early lodgers should check their returns to their own source data rather than relying on the pre-fill,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

‘Therefore, it pays to be cautious during July. By early August, the pre-fill is more reliable.’

Mr Chapman said Australians using an accountant to do their tax return also needed to ensure they had all their earnings data ready, from their job to their investments.

‘Having said that, if you use a tax agent, they will always check that all the information that is expected to be present, is present and will ask to see your own source data if something appears to be missing,’ he said.

Low and middle-income tax offset 

Individuals earning up to $126,000, who fill out their tax return for the 2021-22 financial year just gone, will be eligible for the base low and middle income tax offset of up to $1,080.

Former treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s May budget topped that up with a $420 cost of living tax offset. 

That means 4.6 million Australians earning between $48,000 and $90,000 will receive $1,500 as a tax offset, as another 1.8 million people on $37,000 to $48,000 get back $675.

The tax offset, introduced in the October 2020 budget, expired on June 30 which means individuals won’t get it in 2022-23.

With inflation running hot, everyday Australians would be hankering for $2,580 worth of tax relief to cope with surging costs of living (pictured is a Woolworths supermarket in Sydney)

 With inflation running hot, everyday Australians would be hankering for $2,580 worth of tax relief to cope with surging costs of living (pictured is a Woolworths supermarket in Sydney)

Tax cuts 

On top of that, Australians are also getting tax cuts in the 2021-22 financial year, compared with what they would have paid in 2017-18 thanks to measures introduced by the previous Coalition government.

Those earning between $48,000 and $90,000 get back $2,580, when the $1,500 in tax offsets was combined with the $1,080 in tax cuts.

Australians have until October 31 to lodge their tax return if they are doing it themselves instead of through an accountant.

Banks, however, have until October 31 to tell the tax office about the interest payments their customers have received.

Individuals have until May to complete their tax return if they register with an accountant.

Individuals earning up to $126,000, who fill out their tax return for the 2021-22 financial year just gone, will be eligible for a tax offset of up to $1,500 - with a $420 top-up added to the base $1,080 tax offset

Individuals earning up to $126,000, who fill out their tax return for the 2021-22 financial year just gone, will be eligible for a tax offset of up to $1,500 – with a $420 top-up added to the base $1,080 tax offset

Source

Related posts