Thinking of renting out the extra room?

Thinking of renting out the extra room?

If you live in your own two or three bedroom property after acquiring it then it is probably listed as your main residence. This generally makes it exempt from Capital Gains Tax [CGT]. But if you are thinking of renting out the extra room[s] to help meet some of your expenses then ensure you consult your accountant or the Australian Tax Office (ATO) before doing so. It could affect your income tax and CGT liabilities.

Remember to keep all your receipts and records right from the start.

According to the ATO if you use your property for both private and income-producing purposes, then you can only claim a deduction for the portion of any expenses that relate to the rental or business income produced.

This means a percentage of your capital gain is not exempt. The percentage is calculated according to:

  • the proportion of the floor area of the room[s] to be rented out

  • the length of time the rooms were rented out

  • whether you're eligible for the 'absence' rule [See ATO website for further details]

  • if the rooms were first used to produce income after 20 August 1996.

Basically, you declare all the rent received in your tax return and claim a deduction from your expenses such as interest on your mortgage, council rates, utility bills and repairs and maintenance. The percentage you deduct is the proportion of the total floor area of the room[s] rented out. If the room or rooms make up 25% of the total floor area of your home then you can claim 25% of the expenses.

You can’t claim a deduction for:

  • expenses not actually paid by you, such as water or electricity charges paid by your tenants

  • acquisition and disposal costs, including the purchase cost, conveyancing and advertising costs and stamp duty on the title transfer outside the ACT - instead, these are usually included in the property's cost base, which would reduce any capital gains tax when you sell the property

  • unlike stamp duty on the transfer of freehold title, stamp duty on the transfer of a property under the ACT's leasehold system is generally deductible (see Expenses for which you can claim an immediate deduction, 'Lease document expenses' in the Rental properties guide)

  • GST credits for anything you purchase to lease the premises – GST doesn't apply to residential rental properties, however, when claiming the expense as a deduction, you claim the total amount you've paid (inclusive of GST, if applicable).

Remember to consult your accountant or the Australian Tax Office (ATO) before you start.

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