Tax time 2024 sees the ATO continuing to turn the spotlight on rental property owners and inflated claims to offset increases in rental income. ATO data shows the majority of rental property owners are continuing to get information in their income tax returns wrong, even with most using a registered tax agent to complete their tax returns. The most common mistakes include overclaimed deductions; inadequate documentation to substantiate claimed expenses; and not understanding what expenses can be claimed and when.

To determine the accuracy of tax returns, the ATO cross-checks data from a range of sources including banks, land title offices, insurance companies, property managers and sharing economy providers. Incomplete documentation and the inability to substantiate claims for expenses and deduction are major causes of errors. Rental property owners need to make sure that they are keeping accurate records and are letting their tax agent (where they have one) know what is going on with their rental property so their return can be prepared correctly. Not understanding what expenses can be claimed and when, particularly the difference between what can be claimed for repairs or maintenance versus capital expenditure, is the most common mistake rental property owners make on their returns. Deductions can generally only be claimed only to the extent that they are incurred in producing income – which means costs incurred in generating their rental income annually may be claimed for that period.