ATO to crackdown on rental properties in holiday hotspots

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If you own an investment property in one of Australia’s popular tourist destinations, then it’s probably wise to double check your tax return this year.

The warning comes after the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) announced it would paying particular attention to deductions claimed on rental properties in holiday hotspots.

“We know that it can sometimes be challenging for rental property owners to work out what deductions they can and cannot claim on their holiday homes,” ATO assistant deputy commissioner Adam Kendrick said.

“As part of our prevention before correction approach we are sending letters to taxpayers in approximately 500 postcodes across Australia, reminding them to only claim the deductions they are entitled to,” Kendrick said.

Mark Chapman, H&R Block’s director of tax communications there are some steps investors should take if they wish to stay on the good side of the ATO.

“It is important that holiday home property owners only claim for the periods the property is rented out or is genuinely available for rent,” Chapman said.

“Periods of personal use can’t be claimed and accurate records need to be kept of when it has been rented out over the last year. Be careful of claiming deductions when nominal rent has been charged for friends and family staying at the property,” he said.

Chapman also reminded people not to try and pull a fast one on the ATO after its investigating capabilities were improved.

“The ATO now has access to numerous sources of third party data, including access to popular rental listing sites for both long term and holiday rentals, so it is relatively easy for them to establish whether a claim that a property was ‘available for rent’ is correct,” he said. .

Chapman also said the ATO are focussing on people who are splitting rental income and deductions so that the bulk of the tax benefit goes to the higher earning spouse, even though the rental property is actually owned evenly.

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