08 May Getting caught with rule changes – Brad Beer
I recently received an e-mail from Kathy, an investor who purchased an investment property, which settled after a 30-day cooling off period. While that is not normal, that was not the point of the question. Kathy’s question relates to a protracted negotiation that impacted depreciation because of some new rules that were introduced during the negotiations. We turn to Brad Beer from BMT Tax Depreciation to help understand what happened.
Kevin: I recently received an e-mail from Kathy, an investor who purchased an investment property, which settled after a 30-day cooling off period. That’s not normal, but anyway it settled in August 2017.
Kathy writes “Hi Kevin,” she goes through the details there. “I made two previous offers on the house commencing late May 2017” – I’m emphasizing these dates because they’re fairly important in this overall question – “and after two crashed contracts from other people’s higher offers, we were successful in our offer in July, and then settled in August.
“During this time, the new laws came into effect disallowing depreciation of existing assets in the home, of which this property has many. It has a little depreciable value in renovation capital. Is it just a bit of bad luck for me with regards to the timing of the laws that were made, or is there any allowable grace with regards to the dates this came into effect?”
This is a bit of a cheeky part. “It’s just a real shame for this particular investment property. I just didn’t think those laws would get up. Thanks so much for the opportunity.” That’s my pleasure, Kathy.
I’m going to turn now to answer that question, and also talk a little bit more about those changes with Brad Beer from BMT. He is the Chief Executive Officer of BMT Tax Depreciation.
Brad, thanks again for your time. I sent you Kathy’s question. Can you answer that first? And then I’ll ask you a few more questions about those changes.
Brad: Yes, for sure. Great to be here, Kevin. I can answer, and there’s a bit of a long question there with a few little parts to answer. But the simple fact is when they announced these changes in the Budget in May 2017, they talked about that anyone who exchanges a contract from that evening at 7:30 p.m. is affected by those rules.
The fact that they didn’t actually finalize this legislation until the middle of November was left as irrelevant. If it had fallen over and not got passed then I suppose you would have been back to the same situation, but no, unfortunately Kathy there’s no allowable grace. The legislation talks about all of these dates coming into effect back at the time that they announced this draft legislation.
Even when Kathy started to put offers on these, if you’re in late May, you’re after that date anyway, and it’s all around that exchange of contract that really matters, and it is a little unfortunate.
I’ve even had someone who signed their contract on Budget day in the afternoon before 7:30, but the other side didn’t sign and exchange until the next morning, and unfortunately for them that didn’t exchange until the next day, so they’re affected by these rules after they actually signed their contract.
Kevin: Yeah. So, there’s no grace whatsoever, is there?
Brad: No grace whatsoever.
The only question I have is she says “It has little depreciable value in renovation capital,” means that someone has spent some money on that property and she’s thinking maybe it’s not enough to be valuable to look at it from a depreciation point of view, but talk to us. Ask a couple of questions about what’s been spent, and we can give you an idea of what those dollars need to be to make sure it is worth it. But, yes, unfortunately Kathy, no grace.
Kevin: There you go, Kathy, that’s answered your question. Probably not what you wanted to hear. Kathy did want to get a bit more clarification. I think it’s a good opportunity for us to do that, Brad
Can you just give us an overview of all of those recent changes that have taken place? And what do they mean to investors?
Brad: At the federal Budget, what they’ve done is they announced what they called an integrity measure where they wanted to stop plant and equipment items being claimed in excess of their original value by multiple owners. And what that means is that the things – the carpets, the hot water service, stoves, blinds – what they’ve done is said once they become second-hand and you buy them as a second-hand item, you don’t get to claim a deduction against those.
Now, it took until 15th of November to pass it, but the new rules apply to anyone who exchanged contracts on a second-hand residential property after that date. If you bought before this date, nothing changes for you. If you buy a new property after this date, nothing changes for you because it only affects these second-hand owners.
If you add a new item to your property after this date, you go and buy a new stove and put it in there, you get to depreciate your stove as per normal. But what it is is anyone who’s just buying a second-hand stove, carpet, hot water service, whether it’s one year, five years, or twenty years old, they’re saying no deductions allowable for this plant and equipment item.
Kevin: I was going to ask you who won’t be affected by the change, but I guess you’ve answered that pretty much.
Brad: Yes, I have pretty much answered that, sorry. I guess the things also that aren’t affected on top of that are this claim against the structure of the building, and the capital works as it’s called – concrete floors, walls, and roof – where those dates are not affected. People with commercial properties are not affected. Other than that, I think we’ve covered that, the new property buyer and the people that are adding things afterwards.
Probably one that is also affected that we didn’t touch on is someone who actually already owned the property and then moved out of it after that date, so if you bought it before the Budget, lived in it for a year, moved out after the Budget changes, then your plant and equipment is second-hand for the purpose of investment, and you don’t get to claim deductions against them.
Kevin: What effects do the changes have on capital gains tax?
Brad: It’s something that’s made a bit of a change to the capital gains tax legislation, or the way items are treated for the capital gains tax. They’ve talked about being able to change your cost base based on what you couldn’t claim in depreciation on some of these items. It’s very non-cut-and-dry, the answers depending on individuals’ scenarios.
We have things called K7 events, which when you sell and you couldn’t make a deduction, that you may be able to reduce your cost base based on things that you have thrown away in between in the year you throw them away, or if it’s in a different year to otherwise?
I think what we do is provide the value of these things at the time so that when you do look to sell this property, then there’s a way to work out these numbers. If you lived in the property for part of the time, then these things also create a different answer to the CGT event if you were claiming it as your principal place of residence.
It’s actually made it very complex. What you actually get and what happens to you is hinged on your own situation. What we do is put the numbers in there so that the accountant can use those at the time to calculate these things, but it’s not as simple as you can just claim those deductions otherwise off your capital gains tax. Some of the original thoughts were that, but it’s not actually quite that simple.
Kevin: Mate, thank you very much for clearing that up. And Kathy thank you so much for raising that question with us, as well. Brad, thanks for your time.
Brad: Thanks, Kevin. Always a pleasure.
Kevin: Brad Beer is from BMT Tax Depreciation.