We’ve already moved through July at a pretty fast pace and have hurtled rapidly into August. Before we know it, it will be September, then October.
What are you doing to get that nice, juicy tax return?
For all you property investors out there, it’s time to stop procrastinating and start getting your ducks in a row. And, if a nice chunk of a tax return is in your forseeable future, why would you want to wait a second longer?
Not sure where to start?
Naturally, if you’re new to the property investing game and this is your first tax time (congrats btw!!), this may all seem a little daunting. It’s OK, you just need a place to start. Push through and don’t panic (it’s exciting!) – you’re certainly not alone.
If you’re a seasoned investor, this little old checklist is a great way to maximise your return and focus in on what’s important without being bogged down by all the things you don’t really need to provide.
OK, here’s the checklist I personally use at tax time to ensure I feel in control and have everything ready and raring to go for my Accountant.
The aim of the tax time game?
To properly analyse your investment properties, claim everything you can (legally!), think about the future, and to get the best tax return possible.
Here we go…
GET YOURSELF AN ACCOUNTANT
Find an Accountant who specialises in Property Investing (you could potentially save yourself thousands with the right one – I personally saved almost $40K by switching). Now pick up the phone and lock in a chat. Now you’ve got a timeframe to gather all the information required and you’re accountable. Ball rolling!
Taking your receipts to your accountant in a shoe box isn’t a great idea. If you operate this way, claims will be missed and you’ll spend a stack more money on accounting fees than you actually need to. I like to use an excel spreadsheet to keep everything in order, but whatever you choose – it just need to be documented all in the one spot.
ANALYSE YOUR STATEMENTS
Firstly, download and analyse your bank statements to calculate interest, then get onto your income and expenses and ask your Property Manager (if you have one) for your Annual Statement.
FALL IN LOVE WITH SPREADSHEETS
For those who know me, most will know that I love myself a good spreader to track…well…almost anything! Makes life easier. Now make sure your Property Analysis spreadsheets are in order and good to go – 5 gold stars from your Accountant for sure.
Make sure you have your depreciation schedule sorted – if you haven’t got one, go and get one done. What is it? This is a report that outlines all available tax depreciation deductions for an investment property and shows the deductions for the depreciation of the building structure and the items within it.
Analyse the cashflow of your portfolio and understand your bank statements. Work out how much interest you’ve paid throughout the year, and yep, you guessed it, send to your Accountant. If this is nice and easy for them to process, it keeps your running costs down too!
BUFFERS ARE ESSENTIAL
Forecast your buffers for the next 12 months. This will help you through the ‘unexpected’ times if the rent stops rolling in or when a costly repair is urgently required. These things often happen without warning, so you want to be prepared. You need to know your ‘before tax’ cashflow position.
PLAN OF ATTACK GOING FORWARD
Capital Growth and Cashflow are probably the main two outcomes for property investors. If you have multiple properties, and this isn’t your first rodeo, this is also a great opportunity to sit down with your Accountant and look at your cashflow before and after tax, and capital growth, what’s happened with my portfolio in the past 3 to 5 years. If you’re not getting either of those, you need to critically look at where your portfolio is going.
Analyse your tax position – has your refund increase? Or has your tax payable decreased?
So there you have it – my personal checklist!
As you can see, there’s a bit of mucking around to do to get organised so get cracking on this as soon as you possibly (now!) can. Doing it right the first time will save you heaps of angst and potentially a truck load of cash.