How Does Your Investment Property Reduce Your Tax?
Right. How does an investment property reduce your tax?
Let’s say we own the property up here on the top right of the slide. Worth $500,000, it’s got a $450,000 loan on it, and a 5% interest rate. It’s renting for $500 a week, or $26,000 per year.
On the left-hand side, we have the Australian tax brackets. And you can see there the first bracket is $18,200, the second 37, 87, 180, and you can see the percentages.
Now, let’s say we have a job where we earn $100,000 a year. Now, our employer pays tax on our behalf on the assumption that we’re only going to earn $100,000 a year. So, some money’s been paid to the tax office for that.
However, when we have an investment property, the rent we get from a property is actually added to our taxable income. So, at this point in time, we actually haven’t paid enough tax, so unless we make some claims against it, we’re going to have a tax bill not a tax return.
But of course, we’ve got plenty of things we can claim. We can claim the loan interest. We can claim the rates. We can claim rental management fees and insurance. Now, all of these things are what we call cash deductions, which means money has to physically leave our bank account in return for getting a third of it back, or 37% back in this case.
But there’s one thing that really makes all the difference to property investing and to making sure your properties pay for themselves, and it’s a little magic thing called depreciation. Now, depreciation is what we call a non-cash deduction, or an on-paper deduction.
What does it actually mean? Well, the building you are sitting in now is theoretically going down in value. The carpets are going down in value, the curtains are going down in value. Different parts of it are going down in value. But of course, in real life, it’s not. In real life, that property is going up in value or staying the same. Rarely going down in value. But the government allows us to write off the depreciating value of a building.
Now, the magic here is that we get to claim this money on tax without actually spending any money from our bank account. This in turn drives our on-paper assessment right down into the red, but in real terms, the cash in and out of our account is not in the red at all.
So, lets analyse what we’ve got here. So, our taxable income went up to $126,000, and then came down to $83,000. But we paid tax on $100,000. Therefore, we now are entitled to a tax return. If we paid tax on $100,000 but our revised taxable income is $83,000, then $16,450 of income we paid tax on that we shouldn’t have. So, we should get that back. The refund would therefore be, the first $13,000 would be at 37%, and the balance of that money would be at 32.5% because of where it crosses the line at the $87,000 threshold. So, we would get a tax return against that property of $5,931 in theory.
Now, that makes a massive, massive difference. If we’re getting back over $5,000 on a property for depreciation, then that’s about $100 a week. And if we’re getting an extra $100 a week back from our property, on top of a $500 per week rent, well that depreciation is making a 20% increase in the total return that that property gets back. And this can be the difference between a successfully positive cash flow property and a negative cash flow property.
Now, ask yourself this question: how many properties can you own that have to put $100 a week or more of your own money into?
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