Edmonds Judd

tax

Bright-line and interest deductibility

In March 2021, the government announced three changes to property tax rules that are likely to affect anyone with residential property investments. The changes include extending the bright-line period from five years to 10 years, changing the main home exemption ‘test’ and removing the ability to deduct mortgage interest from rental income.

Changes to the bright-line regime

The bright-line test was established in 2015 to classify as income the profit made from buying property and selling the same property within a set period. Once captured as income, tax must be paid on that income at your marginal tax rate.

Initially the bright-line period was two years from the date that you acquired the residential property. This was extended to five years from 29 March 2018. From 27 March 2021 onwards, if you purchase residential property and you sell it within 10 years, any profit from that sale will be subject to income tax.

The government has indicated, however, that for new build investment properties, the five-year period still applies, rather than the longer 10-year period.

The government has stated that a new build investment property will be a self-contained dwelling with its own kitchen and bathroom, which has received a code of compliance certificate. The government is consulting with interested parties until 12 July and it is proposed that any agreed measures will apply from 1 October 2021.

Main home exemption

There are, of course, some exemptions to the bright-line test.

If you are selling your main home and you don’t have a pattern of buying and selling properties (generally selling your main home two or more times within two years), the sale may not be captured under the bright-line rules.

Previously, if your property was your main home for most of the time that you owned it, the exemption would apply. For example, you buy a property to live in; over a four-year period you spend 18 months working overseas, during which time you let the property out to cover expenses. Under the old rules the property would still be your main home and you wouldn’t have to pay bright-line tax on any profit from the sale.

This test has now changed; a property can be your main home for periods of time and not others. The new rule takes into account that you may be called to work in other regions or countries and, in this respect, you are permitted to live somewhere else continuously for up to 12 months. If you live elsewhere for more than 12 months, however, and want to sell your home within the applicable bright-line period (10 years for any older property purchased after 27 March 2021), bright-line tax will apply to the period (over 12 months) you spent living elsewhere.

Using the same example from above, you acquire your property on 1 April 2021 and live in it for six months. On 1 October 2021 you work overseas for 18 months before moving back into your property on 1 April 2023; two years later you decide to sell it.

Inland Revenue will calculate how much the property increased in value and you will need to pay tax for the six months that the property was not your main home.

Interest deductibility

The final change affects interest deductibility. Previously, if you had a mortgage secured against your rental property, you could treat the interest paid as a loss. This could be offset against the income earned by way of rent or sale profit. From 1 October 2021, this will no longer be the case.

Initially the change will only apply to properties purchased after 27 March 2021. Over the next four years, however, the ability to deduct your interest as an expense and offset this against your property income for all properties, including those purchased prior to 27 March 2021, will be phased out completely.

You will be able to claim back 75% of interest paid for the 2022-23 tax year; 50% for the 2023–24 tax year; 25% for the 2024–25 tax year; and from 1 April 2025, you will not be able to treat any interest as a loss.

You should also note that if you borrow money after 27 March 2021 and secure that loan over a property purchased before that date, the interest deductibility rule will be applied as if the property was also purchased after 27 March 2021 and you will not be able to claim back the interest.

These changes make it more important than ever to get legal and accounting advice before you decide to purchase or sell your rental investments.

If you’re thinking of a change, or you want more advice on how the changes will affect you, please feel free to talk with us.


Postscript

Claiming legitimate business expenses

With the recent media coverage about the claiming of business expenses, we thought it timely to remind you to always keep in mind what expenses are tax-deductible and what are not.

expenses

If you’re self-employed, there is very useful information here at Business NZ: https://bit.ly/31WdFgS

For those of you who work in a corporate environment, your organisation will no doubt have an expenses policy to ensure all claims are legitimate.

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Risk of hefty penalties if you don’t

There are plenty of war stories about recordkeeping blunders. Think of offices crammed with paper, ‘lost’ documents, fireplace filing systems and online voids.

Section 194(1) of the Companies Act 1993 requires boards to keep correct accounting records. Records are supposed to ‘speak for themselves’[1] and allow the company’s financial position to be determined at any time with reasonable accuracy. Failure to keep proper records can badly hurt your business.

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Business Briefs

Website privacy falling short

Your business website is a powerful tool for engaging potential and existing customers, and for collecting useful data. Where information collected is personal information, however, you have obligations under the Privacy Act 1993. The legislation contains
12 Privacy Principles which regulate how you collect, use, disclose and store personal information.

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Looking to purchase a business? We can help! There are a number of steps involved in buying a business, and working your way through them can seem quite overwhelming, particularly for first time buyers.

Often prospective purchasers overlook important aspects and end up having to sort out issues that arise after settlement – at significant cost. This article puts the spotlight on common snags people experience when buying a new business.

Choosing a business structure

It’s important that you select the business structure to suit your personal circumstances and business aims. There are four main types of business structures, each with pros and cons:

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FATCA

Many New Zealand businesses and trusts must complete registration and understand their reporting obligations.

With the United States Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) regime now in effect, it’s important that all New Zealand entities ensure they are aware of their obligations.

FATCA came into effect in New Zealand on 1 July 2014 – with little fanfare at the time. From 1 April 2017, however, the compliance obligations of the FATCA regime are now live. The FATCA regime classifies all entities (companies, trusts, associations and partnerships) as either a ‘financial institution’, an ‘active non-financial foreign entity’ (active NFFE) or a ‘passive non-financial foreign entity’ (passive NFFE).

The reason for FATCA

The ultimate goal of the FATCA regime is to find US offshore persons or entities who have been avoiding their US tax obligations. This is done by gathering information on any US persons or entities controlled by US persons holding accounts outside of the US.

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The pundits were right. The Minister of Finance, the Hon Steven Joyce, presented his first Budget on Thursday 25 May and it was definitely a ‘steady as she goes affair’ with few surprises.
The Minister said the outlook for New Zealand’s economy is positive and the Crown’s books are steadily improving. We highlight some of the Budget’s key points below.

Tax cuts

From 1 April 2018, there will be tax cuts for every working New Zealander with particular emphasis on lower to middle income earners.

Income that can be earned at the lowest tax rate of 10.5% will rise from $14,000 to $22,000 which means $11 more a week. The 17.5% income tax rate will be raised from $48,000 to $52,000 giving an increase of $20 a week.

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Proposed business tax changes

In April, the government announced a package of proposals to simplify business tax, many of which will benefit small and medium-sized businesses. Some of the key tax proposals include:

  • A new pay-as-you-go option for paying provisional tax for small businesses with less than $5 million annual turnover. This will give small businesses an alternative to the current system which requires three annual provisional tax payments. To take advantage of the proposal, businesses will need to use a cloud-based accounting system, such as Xero, linked to the Inland Revenue.
  • Changes to the ‘use-of-money interest’ rules that govern the interest paid to taxpayers for overpayment of tax and interest charged for underpayment. The practical effect is that the changes will eliminate or reduce use-of-money interest for most taxpayers.
  • Contractors will be able to elect their own withholding tax rate to better reflect their circumstances and reduce the impact of provisional tax.
  • Certain penalties will be removed, including the current 1% monthly penalty for new debt. However, immediate penalties and interest charges for late payments will still apply.

taxchanges

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: The tail of two crocodiles, Business tax proposals announced, Attempt to structure around the Overseas Investment Act proves costly.

The ‘tail’ of two crocodiles

Lacoste recently successfully defended its rights in the Court of Appeal (1) to its trade mark which depicts both a crocodile and the word ‘crocodile’ (mark 70068) despite it never actually having used the mark.

lacoste

Crocodile International Pte Limited had applied to have Lacoste’s mark revoked on the ground of non-use under 66(1)(a) of the Trade Marks Act 2002. Lacoste argued that its use of its other, more familiar mark, constituted use of mark 70068 under the Act’s extended definition of ‘use’ which includes ‘use in a form differing in elements that do not alter the distinctive character of the trademark in the form in which it was registered.’

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