SMATS, experts in Australian taxation, suggests some resolutions Australian expats or property owners should consider, and other expats can adapt!
1. Make sure your taxes are up to date
Many Australian property owners don’t realise that they must lodge an annual income tax return in Australia even if their property rental doesn’t cover their expenses. Failure to lodge can cost you A$850 per person, per year, so it is an expensive exercise if you forget to fulfil your obligations.
But it’s a simple process to lodge your annual returns and ATS’s professional team is available to assist and take the burden off your shoulders.
2. Stop paying off your loan
If you have an Australian property, it is always a strong temptation to reduce the loan.
However, paying the loan down prior can be a big problem, as it is likely to increase your tax cost, which starts at 32.5 percent, and diminish your overall return on investment.
It could also mean that you are trapping your cash in a property that is purely for investment, which means you may be stuck with a higher personal mortgage on your eventual home.
If you do insist on debt reduction, make sure it’s targeted at a property you intend to live in rather than one in which you never will.
3. Review your loan interest
There have been a few changes to interest rate policy from Australian banks, increasing the rate for investors. This obviously impacts all expats, as being abroad means we can’t live on our property at the moment.
There are a number of special discounts that may be available to you and it is also worth considering fixing your interest rate, as interest rates are currently at 50-year lows.
Most people make the mistake of waiting until rates are rising to fix their interest, which usually means they lock in a higher cost. Fixing when rates are low or falling usually assures you of the lowest, or near lowest level of cost, which can be enjoyed through the fixed period.
4. Make your proprety work harder
Many properties in Australia have risen in value in recent years, so you may find that you have built up some additional equity in your property that can be used to assist with your next purchase. This means little or no cash outlay on the property you have been thinking of buying.
It is well worth checking the value with your property manager and seeing what your budget may be. It might be a very pleasant surprise and will allow you to acquire your next Australian property sooner than you thought.
This may also help your overall financial performance and tax position.
From The Finder, November 2016
Steve Douglas is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Australasian Taxation Services (ATS). ATS provides specialist taxation services for anyone looking to invest in Australian property, including Australian expatriates living overseas. Areas of specialisation include the Australian taxation aspects of property investment, as well as expatriate and migration planning.