ATO assistant commissioner Kath Anderson has called on tax agents to double-check claims made by their property investor clients after finding a large number of incorrect deduction claims being made.
“As Australians enjoy the Easter break, they should be aware that the ATO is focusing on taxpayers who claim deductions for holiday homes that are not actually available for rent or only available to friends and family,” said Ms Anderson.
“While private use by family and friends of a holiday home is entirely legitimate, it does reduce your ability to earn income from the property. This in turn impacts the deductions you can claim.
“You can only claim deductions for your holiday home if your property is genuinely available for rent. You cannot claim for times when you were using it for your own personal holidays or letting friends and family stay rent-free,” she added.
“Holiday home owners also need to remember that if their property is rented to friends and family at mates rates, they can only claim deductions for expenses up to the amount of the income received.”
The ATO’s increased focus came after it found similar claims being made last year, including red flags when clients attempt to make claims for property that has not been genuinely rented out.
Ms Anderson said records were key to substantiating claims, including records of income received from the rental property, evidence of the property being rented out, and records of people who have stayed at the holiday home.
“We see things like unreasonable conditions placed on prospective renters, rental rates set above market rates, or failing to advertise a holiday home in a way that targets people who would be interested in it,” Ms Anderson said.
“Incorrect rental property claims will not go unnoticed. Whether it is a genuine mistake or a deliberate attempt to over-claim, new technology, data matching and other systems allow the ATO to identify unusual claims.
“Where something raises a red flag, it will be investigated. Property owners whose claims are disproportionate to the income received can expect scrutiny from the ATO.”
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.