How property investors can use a PAYG withholding variation

A series of sheets and a calculator

A PAYG withholding variation can help boost your investment property cash flow.

It’s always nice to get a tax refund at the end of the year, but it can be tough waiting for that money to come through. That’s particularly true if you own an investment property and have to bear the expenses that come along with it. This is where a PAYG withholding variation can be a great strategy.

What is a PAYG withholding variation?

Throughout the year, your employer withholds a part of your income to pay your tax debt. At the end of the year, your tax return helps determine whether your employer has correctly estimated your tax liability for the year. If they’ve underestimated your tax liability, you’ll end up owing money to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). If they’ve overestimated it, you’ll end up with a refund.

The tax withheld from your PAYG income is often an overestimation of your tax liability. This is because your employer doesn’t know all the deductions you’re eligible to claim. If you’re a property investor, there are a number of deductions you can claim that will significantly boost your tax refund at the end of the year.

A PAYG withholding variation allows you to reduce the amount of tax being withheld from your pay in order to better reflect these deductions. It’s basically like getting your tax refund early in the form of higher take-home pay.

Why would I use a PAYG withholding variation?

A PAYG withholding variation can help boost your cash flow as a property investor. This can be important given the cost of holding and maintaining an investment property.

As a property investor, you’ll run into a variety of expenses. In addition to your home loan repayment, you’ll also have expenses for maintenance, repairs, property management fees, insurance and council rates. Fortunately, you can deduct all these expenses, along with the interest charges on your home loan. You can also use the depreciation of the building and any items you’ve purchased for the property to further boost your deductions.

All these deductions can add up to a hefty tax refund. However, if you wait until the end of the year for your tax refund, you could run into some serious cash flow problems.

Your income from an investment property is usually limited to the rent you collect, any water usage charges passed on to your tenants and any insurance claims that are paid out during the tax year. Your expenses can often exceed this income. If you’re in a situation where the expense of holding and maintaining your investment property is greater than the income it generates, your property is said to be negatively geared.

Fortunately for property investors, negative gearing tax rules dictate that you can deduct any loss you realise on an investment property from your personal income. You can either do that by filing your return at the end of the year and waiting for a refund, or you can apply for a PAYG withholding variation and see tax benefits right away.

Because you’re likely to have a significant amount of deductions, your employer is likely to overestimate your tax liability. By applying for a PAYG withholding variation, you can reduce the amount withheld, boost your take home pay and help ease the financial burden of owning your investment property.

How to maximise your tax return as a property investor

How do I set up a PAYG withholding variation?

You can apply for a PAYG withholding variation directly with the ATO here. You can either fill out an electronic form and submit it online or print the form, fill it out and mail it to the ATO.

However, before you apply, you should discuss your situation with an accountant. Remember, if you overestimate the amount of deductions you’ll be able to claim, you’ll end the tax year on the hook for a debt to the ATO. A property tax specialist can help you figure out exactly how big a variation to apply for.

You’ll also want to speak to a depreciation specialist. A depreciation schedule can give a serious boost to your deductions, so it’s worth having one prepared before you chat to your accountant.

Property investment is usually a long-term strategy that involves holding a property for a number of years to build up capital growth. PAYG withholding variations allow you to pursue this strategy in the long-term without being too much out of pocket over the short term.

Start your property investment dreams with an investment home loan

Rates last updated August 18th, 2018
$
Loan purpose
Offset account
Loan type
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Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment Short Description
3.89%
4.24%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Sharp interest only package rate
Fix your rate and minimise repayments for 2 years with this interest-only investor mortgage.
3.99%
3.99%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Special discounted interest rate
Get a discounted, low-fee investor loan from a convenient online lender. 20% deposit required.
3.98%
3.98%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
Requires a 30% deposit
Investors can get a 100% offset account and a low rate if they have a big deposit. 100% online application process.
3.91%
3.92%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Add an offset account for $10 a month
Investors can go from application to approval in as little as 20 minutes with this innovative online lender.
3.97%
3.99%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Competitive investment package loan
Package your owner occupied loan with investment loan and receive a discounted investment rate. 100% offset account included.
4.09%
4.87%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
10% deposit option available
Buy your investment property and set your repayments for the first year. Available in QLD, NSW and ACT only.
3.99%
5.17%
$600
$0 p.a.
90%
Available with a 10% deposit
Competitive rates for fixed for 3 years with redraw facility.
3.93%
3.94%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Competitive investor rate with plenty of features
This investment loan keeps fees low, has a sharp interest rate and comes with a 100% offset account.
3.99%
4.14%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
Competitive investor mortgage for borrowers with a 30% deposit.
4.29%
4.31%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Flexible, low fee mortgage
Investors will pay no application or ongoing fees for this interest-only loan.
4.08%
4.09%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Low-fee investor mortgage with a partial offset account. 10% deposit option available.
4.18%
4.18%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Competitive investment mortgage
Investors get a 100% offset account and pay no application or ongoing fees on this loan from an innovative online lender.
3.99%
3.99%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
Save on fees with this investor mortgage
Investors with a 30% deposit can get this low rate loan to fund their property portfolio.
4.29%
4.31%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Simple, flexible investment product
A simple, variable rate investor loan from an online lender that keeps fees to a minimum.
3.99%
4.62%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Flexible fixed investment loan
Investors can enjoy flexible repayments and an easy application process with this pioneering online lender.
4.24%
4.68%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Investor loan with a small deposit option
Fix your investment repayments for 1 year. You can get this loan with a 10% deposit. Available in QLD, NSW and ACT only.
4.13%
4.14%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Available with a 10% deposit
Access a fee-free offset account and a special interest rate for investors.
4.14%
3.96%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Low fee investor mortgage
Investors can go from application to full approval in as little as 20 minutes with this innovative online lender.
4.18%
4.19%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Line of credit for investors
Investors can easily access their equity using BPAY, a debit Master Card or cheque book with this interest-only line of credit.
4.31%
3.95%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Rapid online application process
A variable interest-only loan for investors. Fast application, low fees, optional offset account. 100% online lender.
4.14%
4.17%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Competitive rate for investors
Investors can enjoy flexible repayment options and pay no application or ongoing fees.
3.94%
3.92%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Add an offset account for $10 a month
Lock in your interest rate for 2 years and enjoy flexibility, an optional offset account and a fast online application process.
4.29%
4.27%
$0
$198 p.a.
70%
Lock in your investment rate for 3 years
Fund your property portfolio with this fixed rate mortgage which includes a 100% offset account. 30% deposit required.
3.84%
3.91%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Flexible low fee mortgage
Enjoy a fast application process and flexible repayment options with this fixed rate mortgage for investing.

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Credit services for Aussie Select, Aussie IQ and Aussie Optimizer products are provided by AHL Investments Pty Ltd ACN 105 265 861 Australian Credit Licence 246786 ("Aussie"), and its appointed credit representatives. Credit for Aussie Select products is provided by Residential Mortgage Group Pty Ltd ACN 152 378 133 Australian Credit Licence 414133 (“RMG”). RMG is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 234945. Credit for Aussie Optimizer products is provided by Perpetual Limited ABN 86 000 431 827 (Lender). Credit for Aussie IQ is provided by Macquarie Bank Limited ABN 46 008 583 542 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 237502. Home loans issued by the Lender are serviced by Macquarie Securitisation Limited ABN 16 003 297 336, Australian Credit Licence 237863 (MSL).

Aussie is a trade mark of AHL Investments Pty Ltd. Aussie is a subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124. ©2018 AHL Investments Pty Ltd ABN 27 105 265 861 Australian Credit Licence 246786.

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Adam Smith

Adam has more than five years of experience writing about the Australian home loan market.

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