ATO targets property investors’ and holiday homeowners’ income and deductions

Taxpayers have just three weeks to get their house in order, especially the 1.8 million who own investment and holiday properties, the Australian Taxation Office is warning.

Homeowners who have converted a room into a home office or rent bedrooms to long-term boarders or tourists are also going to have their gains and deductions closely scrutinised, the ATO says.

Kath Anderson, ATO assistant commissioner, says it will monitor taxpayers who rely on tax agents, used by about 66 per cent of those submitting a return, who might be amenable to providing more deductions and bigger claims than they are entitled to.

“We have sophisticated systems that can match data from hundreds of sources,” says Anderson about how the ATO identifies mistakes, exaggerated claims or fraud from 9.6 million personal tax returns.

ATO assistant commissioner Kath Anderson warns of a focus on taxpayers who shop around for tax agents

ATO assistant commissioner Kath Anderson warns of a focus on taxpayers who shop around for tax agents

Investment property

The ATO will “be paying close attention” to excessive interest rate claims, such as where property owners try to claim borrowing costs on the family home as well as rental properties, says Mark Chapman, communications director at H&R Block.

A focus will be incorrect apportionment of rental income and expenses between joint owners, such as where deductions on a jointly-owned property are claimed by the owner with the higher taxable income, rather than jointly.

Investors are on notice about making incorrect claims for newly purchased rental properties.

“The costs to repair damage and defects existing at the time of the purchase or the costs of renovations cannot be claimed immediately,” says Chapman.

“These costs are deductible instead over a number of years. Expect to see the ATO checking such claims and pushing back against those that do not stack up.”

Brad Beer, chief executive of BMT Tax Depreciation, adds: “While rules state second-hand residential property owners cannot claim previously existing plant and equipment, they can claim on items they purchase and install in the property themselves after it is income-producing.”

Airbnb landlords are eligible for deductions for expenses but the claims must relate directly to earning of income and will require receipts or records as evidence.

“Don’t forget, the ATO has access to numerous sources of third party data including access to popular holiday rental listing sties such as Stayz and Airbnb, so it is relatively easy for them to establish whether a property was ‘available for rent’,” adds Chapman.

Holiday homes

Holiday home owners are a key target of the ATO, particularly those not making genuine attempts to make their properties available for rent.

Anderson cites a Victorian holiday house owner who earned about $27,000 rent during 2014-15 but claimed expenses of more than $700,000.

She says problems arise if property owners try to claim 100 per cent of expenses for times when their properties are routinely rented to mates at below market rates, are not available for rent during peak holiday periods and are deliberately unoccupied for about 90 per cent of the year. Others are leased under conditions that deter renters, such as unattractive minimum night stays, banning golfers or women who wear stilettos.

Anderson recommends those with home offices keep invoices, receipts, claims and diary accounts to prove spending on meals, mobile phone and internet costs that are work, or business, related

She says the ATO is aware of abuse of concessions by people claiming all their mobile phone, laundry, internet or dining expenses when they represent only a portion of total expenses relating to work or business and the rest is private.

Some people are also abusing the record-keeping provisions, which includes popular work-related car expenses claimed by nearly 4 million taxpayers, totalling nearly $9 billion.

“It is legitimate to claim for 5000 kilometres if you actually do them as part of earning your income,” says Anderson. “But we are concerned some taxpayers mistakenly believe this is a standard deduction they are entitled to, without having to provide any evidence of having travelled that distance.”

The ATO compares taxpayers to others in similar occupations earning similar incomes to identify work travel, or trips, not required as part of their jobs, she says.


Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are assessed for tax purposes as a form of property that are an asset for capital gains tax purposes.

The ATO is working with banks, AUSTRAC and state revenue offices (which collect revenues) to identify suspicious activity, particularly for property transactions.

The movement of cryptocurrency is anonymous but becomes traceable when converted into a fiat currency.

“While many believe cryptocurrency provides anonymity, operating in the digital world leaves electronic footprints,” says Anderson. “We have sophisticated systems that allow us to match data from banks, financial institutions and online exchanges to follow the money back to the taxpayer.”

Liz Russell, a senior tax agent for, says losses on trading cryptocurrency can offset that amount from capital gains made on another asset in the same, or later, financial year. But net capital losses cannot be offset against other income. It is taxable when sold.

Holding cryptocurrency for more than 12 months as an investment might entitle the holder to a CGT discount.

“Whether it is a long-term investment or a short-term trading strategy, the potential tax consequences require taxpayers to keep records,” warns Anderson.

Cryptocurrency payments for goods and services need to be recorded as ordinary income.

Family trusts

Family trusts are an increasingly popular structure for holding a family’s investments, including property, shares and other assets, excluding the family home. Recent tightening of the superannuation rules is adding to their attraction.

All trust members’ income is to be provided for the current financial year and usually an estimated income statement for the next. It is advised an accountant recommend the most tax-efficient ways to distribute any income.

Bill Nussbaum, a director at HLB Mann Judd, says: “The main thing is to work out how the income from the trust is to be distributed to the beneficiaries of the trust for this financial year. Trustees need to speak to their accountant about how the income from the trust will be paid, such as dividends, payments from a business or interest.”

The trustee also has to make a formal resolution to the ATO in writing about the distribution before June 30, he says.

Advises say the “ideal” scenario for maximising distributions to beneficiaries is when there is a spouse paying little or no tax and young adult children who are not yet earning much. The tax on distributions to children is punitive, typically around 47 per cent on anything over about $1300.

NSW budget 2018: Winners and losers

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has delivered an election budget with many winners and almost no losers.


Motorists: Regular toll users will get free car registration, saving up to $700 per year.

Illegal parkers: Fines cut by 25 per cent.

Caravan owners: Registration savings of 40 per cent, or up to $471 per year.

Parents: A $150 baby bundle for newborns, and a $100 “creative kids” voucher to be spent on music drama, art coding or second language classes. This is on top of the $100 voucher introduced last year for sport activities.

School kids: Every three year old to have access to pre-school classes. 4,800 new pre-school places. 880 more teachers; $6 billion for 170 new and upgraded schools; $50m over five yard for air conditioning in schools.

Apprentices: Free TAFE classes. 100,000 fee-free apprenticeships will be created through a $285 million fund.

The sick: 1,000 more nurses and midwives, 330 more doctors, 750 extra paramedics; $8 billion over four years for health facilities, including $750 million for Liverpool Hospital precinct.

Commuters: 2,000 extra bus services.

Small business: From July 1, the payroll tax threshold will be lifted from $750,000 to $850,000, and will increase by $50,000 a year to reach $1 million in 2021-22.


Bureaucrats: An “efficiency dividend” applied across departments to save $1.6 billion over the forward estimates will mean public sector cuts.

 departments will Online gamblers: A new 10 per cent point of consumption tax expected to raise about $100 million a year.

Criminals: 100 extra police.

Speeding, drunk and drug taking motorists: Will be hit by a new police blitz, raising $40 million per year.

The Sydney councils surging past housing targets

Some Sydney council areas are already pushing past targets for new housing development set only two years ago, prompting the state government to consider new measures to ensure local infrastructure keeps up.

In a week in which the national population surged past 25 million, other figures released this week show Sydney is on track to meet and exceed ambitious targets to house the swelling number of people in the city.

In the Hills Shire in the north-west for example, more than 8600 new homes have been approved since 2016. That is more than the Greater Sydney Commission’s target of 8500 new homes to be built in the area between 2016 and 2021.

Other council areas already pushing up against large housing targets set by the commission, when measured by the number of approvals, include Penrith, Liverpool, the Sutherland Shire, Hornsby and Fairfield.

“We are well and truly over the target,” said Wendy Waller, the mayor of Liverpool. “We’ve got the land available, so we’re very fortunate in that sense.”

But Cr Waller said the council’s challenge was to ensuring roads, parks, and other community infrastructure keep pace with the rapid expansion. And to helping establish the conditions for local jobs, so residents did not have to leave the area for work.

“We probably estimate we are looking at over $270 million just in traffic improvements alone… that’s nasty intersections and reconfigurations and so on,” Cr Waller said.

In the city’s north-west, it is understood the state government is soon to sign off on a new local infrastructure scheme.

The scheme would require new contributions from developers to meet a list of community needs, such as roads, water supply, footpaths and parks.

“Doing nothing to provide housing for our children is not an option,” said the Planning and Housing Minister, Anthony Roberts.

“It is critical that, just as generations before us built homes to house this generation, we need to build homes to house the next generation,” Mr Roberts said.

Michael Edger, the general manager of Hills Shire Council, said the rate of housing development in the area had been “faster than we re used to, and it’s been sustained for a fair period of time”.

“We’re conscious that the growth is faster than what some would like,” said Mr Edgar, who credited the state government’s rail line through the area for much of the impetus. “But we’re working very, very hard to provide the things that we can to accommodate it.”

“They’re not bad problems to have.”

One of the city’s largest housing targets was set for Camden, the semi-rural council area to the city’s south-west.

Two years ago Marcus and Angela Biady were the first people to move into their development, Crest by Mirvac in Gledswood Hills, a 10-minute drive from Leppington station on the South West Rail Link.

“Since we’ve moved in a year later we’ve got a lot of people living here,” said Mr Biady, who said he moved to the area for the back-yard and the rural feel.

“It reminds me of when I was a kid. We hang out at each other’s places. Everyone’s really willing to talk and hang out, which is really nice.”

The Greater Sydney Commission does not use housing approvals as the key measure to see if its targets are met; rather, the commission uses figures for the ‘commencements’ of new houses.

But the majority of approvals eventually become new homes. Developers said the industry was struggling to keep up with housing approvals granted in the past couple of years, though approvals had recently started to fall away.

“Construction activity still hasn’t peaked,” said Nigel Edgar, the General Manager of Residential NSW at Frasers Property.

“You’ll see it peak probably some time in the next six months or so,” said Mr Edgar.

The city’s largest targets for 2021 were set for Parramatta, the City of Sydney, Canterbury Bankstown, Blacktown and Camden.

Almost half of the 21,650 new homes slated for Parramatta by 2021 have already been built.

A spokeswoman for the Greater Sydney Commission said the organisation “happy with the progress councils are making on their five year housing targets and, in a number of cases, they are surpassing them.”

“The Commission is supporting councils to update their housing strategies and local strategic planning statements, which will inform the establishment of 6-10 year targets,” the spokeswoman said.

These local plans are due for exhibit next year.


Why it’s worth cutting mortgage costs via cheaper loan

Amy Mylius has saved more than $1000 a month in loan costs on her two investment properties by switching to a new lender after her repayments crept up by more than 100 basis points in 12 months.

Mylius, from the inner Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, watched her rates slowing rising to more than 5 per cent as ANZ discreetly pushed up costs for interest-only investors in response to rising funding and compliance costs, despite record low cash rates.

She says when monthly costs on investment loans for her town house and apartment rose by $1300 a month she decided to refinance.

Mylius, who is also paying off her home, says: “The lending environment is changing so quickly. You need to watch rate movements and shop around for the best deal. I review my rates every six months.”

The big four banks, which account for about 70 per cent of loans, have increased their rates on average for interest-only investors by 54 basis points during the past 18 months since regulators imposed caps on lending to cool over-heating markets, says research house and comparison site Canstar. Other lenders have increased rates by between 20 and 27 basis points, its analysis shows.

Lenders are also increasing fees or raising rates for existing borrowers to subsidise new borrower’s cheaper rates.

Mortgage providers are under intense pressure from regulators and the banking royal commission to ensure borrowers have adequate income to comfortably afford repayments for the term of the loan.

That means they are demanding more details about borrowers’ income and spending, with banks like Westpac more than doubling the detailed categories of questioning from six to 13.

Some lenders, particularly relying on overseas funding to finance their loans, face increased borrowing costs thanks to higher US interest rates.

The big four banks, which account for about 70 per cent of loans, have increased their rates on average for ...
The big four banks, which account for about 70 per cent of loans, have increased their rates on average for interest-only investors by 54 basis points during the past 18 months.

Funding pressures

The short-term money market benchmark interest rate, or Bank Bill Swap Rate, has been rising sharply since January, increasing funding pressures despite the Reserve Bank of Australia maintaining cash rates at 1.5 per cent.

For example, ME Bank, owned by 29 industry super funds, recently raised rates for existing property borrowers by up to 16 basis points in response to rising funding and compliance costs.

MyState Bank, the listed finance group, has introduced a $300 establishment fee for its basic variable residential investment loan.

Lenders are also increasing fees or raising rates for existing borrowers to subsidise new borrower's cheaper rates.
Lenders are also increasing fees or raising rates for existing borrowers to subsidise new borrower’s cheaper rates.

According to comparison site Mozo, effective rates have increased for more than 40 per cent of borrowers in the past 20 months as lenders raise rates or borrowers fail to switch to cheaper alternatives.

Many borrowers are paying rates above 4 per cent despite benchmark principal and interest rates being under 3.7 per cent, its analysis shows.

Kirsty Lamont, Mozo director, says lenders are offering their best deals for buyers with big deposits and steady incomes and relying on the inertia of existing borrowers not to compare rates and switch.

Westpac Group, which includes St George Bank, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA, is launching a limited offer 3.68 per cent loan for first-time, owner-occupier homebuyers with principal and interest repayments.

Lenders are demanding more details about borrowers' income and spending.
Lenders are demanding more details about borrowers’ income and spending. Dominic Lorrimer

Throttling back

But lenders are “throttling back” on many borrowers seeking refinancingwho don’t meet their tough new income standards, or whose rising household expenses might make it more difficult to keep up with repayments.

Martin North, principal of Digital Finance Analytics, says the number of troubled households seeking to refinance has more than doubled from 15 per cent to more than 30 per cent in the past 12 months.

There are estimated to be 550,000 households seeking to refinance over the next three years as fixed loan terms expire or borrowers seek better terms and conditions, DFA’s analysis shows.

Martin North, principal of Digital Finance Analytics, says the number of troubled households seeking to refinance has ...
Martin North, principal of Digital Finance Analytics, says the number of troubled households seeking to refinance has more than doubled from 15 per cent to more than 30 per cent in the past 12 months. Brendon Thorne

The Reserve Bank of Australia is warning its next rate move will be upafter keeping rates on hold for a record 21 months in a row.

But Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy with AMP Capital, does not expect any increase until 2020, adding “the next move being a cut cannot be ruled out”.

The possibility of a rate cut is being raised because house prices are slowing with more weakness likely, tighter lending standards are easing nascent inflationary pressure and growth is likely to remain below RBA expectations.

But investors like Mylius, a buyers’ agent with Cate Bakos Property, says unofficial rate increases make it imperative to review mortgage costs.

Mylius says variable rates on her two ANZ investment properties had “gradually” crept up from below 4 per cent to about 4.9 per cent on one and more than 5 per cent on the other.

“Last month I called my mortgage broker to find out my options,” she says.

She initially switched to an ANZ two-year fixed principal-and-interest loan at 3.88 per cent. This week she refinanced with CBA at 4.29 per cent on a three-year interest-only fixed rate. ANZ did not charge a fixed term break fee.

“The $1000 savings a month – because no principal is paid – will go into my offset account against my owner-occupier loan, which is more tax effective,” she says.


Which workers will benefit most from $140 billion income tax plan

Voters in Labor-held seats will be some of the biggest beneficiaries of the Turnbull government’s income tax overhaul, according to new data which also reveals which workers will benefit most from the $140 billion plan.

Analysis shows residents of the federal electorate of Sydney, held by deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek, Melbourne Ports, held by Labor MP Michael Danby, and Grayndler, represented by frontbencher Anthony Albanese, would gain an average $6,000 extra disposable income per year from 2024 under the tax plan unveiled by Treasurer Scott Morrison on Tuesday.

In contrast, voters in the Labor seat of Blaxland will secure an average saving of $3034, and those in the government-held seat of Hinkler $3067.

The size and timing of tax cuts will be a major factor in the next federal election, and an imminent ‘Super Saturday’ series of byelections in June caused by the dual citizenship crisis.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten confirmed on Thursday night Labor will oppose the Coalition’s tax package despite many of its electorates being listed in the top 30 beneficiaries of the full seven-year plan.

A range of modelling released since Mr Morrison’s budget has been studied by Senate crossbenchers who remain unconvinced about the biggest element of the plan: putting all taxpayers earning between $40,000 and $200,000 on the same bracket from 2024, at annual cost to the budget of $17.8 billion.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson – who controls three key votes in the Senate – said she was not prepared to go there yet.

“It’s too far ahead,” she told Sky News.

Budget benefits
Tax benefits by household income range

Q5 = highest earners (top 20%)

Q3 = middle earners (middle 20%)

Q1 = lowest earners (bottom 20%)

Source: NATSEM

The post-budget analysis, released on Thursday by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, has also challenged Treasurer Scott Morrison’s claim that the budget’s tax cuts are directed to “middle to lower income Australians”.

The analysis shows that the first of the three rounds of tax changes set out in the budget overwhelmingly benefits middle income households, with high income households getting more than low income households. This is because most low income households don’t earn enough to pay tax and receive the proposed tax offset.

The second round, due in 2022, benefits the top 20 per cent of households the most, boosting their disposable incomes by up to 2 per cent. The third and final phase due in 2024 delivers benefits almost exclusively to the top 20 per cent, boosting their disposable incomes by up to 4.5 per cent. Middle income get a lift of around 1 per cent. Most low income households get less than 0.5 per cent.

Asked whether it would be wrong to claim that the first round of the tax cuts was concentrated on middle and lower earners as the Treasurer had, NATSEM modeller Dr Jinjing Li said it would be.

Dr Li said the second and third round of tax cuts were clearly directed to the highest earners, making Australia’s better paid workers easily the biggest beneficiaries of the three rounds put together together.

Mr Morrison disputed the interpretation, telling Fairfax Media that once all stages of his plan had some into effect someone earning $200,000 would still be paying 12.5 times more than someone on $41,000.

“The latest tax statistics show those on the top tax bracket paid 30 per cent of all personal income tax,” he said. “Under the government’s plan Treasury estimates those on the top tax bracket will pay around 36 per cent of all personal income tax collected in 2024-25.”

“Income tax will still remain overwhelmingly paid by the few, not the many.”

The NATSEM analysis shows Ms Plibersek’s seat of Sydney will see an average benefit of $215 in 2018-19, the highest in the country, and $7275 per year by 2024-25. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth will get the highest average dollar benefit of $8340 a year by 2024, and the sixth highest of $184 in 2018-19.

The third phase of the proposal has become the major sticking point for Labor and the crossbench.

Independent Senator Derryn Hinch was not convinced the government would have to split the bill to get it through the Senate, but said he would ignore pressure to pass it as soon as possible to deliver some tax-relief to workers this year.

A separate analysis released by the Grattan Institute on Thursday found that more flat tax structure would do little to undermine the progressivity of the tax system. But most of the benefits would flow to Australia’s highest earners.


2018 Federal Budget

Following the release of the 2018 Federal Budget, there’s a lot of information to digest.

To help with this, we’ve unpacked the budget’s key themes and put them in one location where you can find the main take-outs, including for healthcare, business, child care, employment, plus much more.


  • $225 million for better GPS technology to allow farmers to access precision agricultural technologies that allow them to more accurately sow seeds in between rows of harvested crops and manage the distribution of water, fertiliser and herbicides.
  • $51.3 million over four years to boost growth in Australia’s agriculture and food exports to secure Australia’s position as a world leading agriculture exporter and support agriculture and export jobs.
  • $140 million grant and $50 million loan for Western Australia’s Myalup-Wellington project.
  • $3.6 million over five years to extend the Indonesia-Australia Red Meat and Cattle Partnership to help support beef exports to Indonesia.
  • $6.3 million to extend funding to give farmers access to a broader range of agricultural and veterinary chemicals. This is to support collaboration between growers, chemical manufacturers and rural research and development corporations.
  • $4.7 million to improve the collection of agricultural labour force data to better understand the skills and labour gaps that farmers face.
  • $36.9 million to provide greater access to satellite data that identify physical changes to the Australian environment. This is to help agricultural, mining and marine industries improve their efficiency, reduce waste and improve environmental management practices.
  • $6.6 million for research and development and key infrastructure to help combat pest animals and weeds.
  • $176 million towards building the Rookwood Weir in Queensland.
  • $11.6 million for Queensland’s Mareeba Dimbulah Water Supply Scheme.
  • $3 million for Queensland’s Nogoa MacKenzie Water Supply Scheme.
  • $10.1 million over three years to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to support its ICT systems and digitise its most important and frequently used paper files.
  • $20 million over four years to support growth in Australia’s renewable timber and wood fibre industry.


  • The instant-asset write off for purchases up to $20,000 will be extended for small businesses with turnover up to $10 million.
  • All beer kegs larger than 8 litres will be taxed the same. Previously, beer sold in kegs larger than 48 litres had been taxed at a lower rate than smaller kegs, favouring larger producers.
  • $250 million for the Skilling Australians Fund to equip employees with the skills Australian businesses need.
  • $20 million for SME export hubs. The hubs will help foster greater cooperation between Australian businesses.
  • $17 million per year to help small businesses in the defence industry buy equipment.
  • $15 million over four years for a package of initiatives to support the Australian business community through building public support for open trade and investment, enhancing government engagement with business and maximising commercial opportunities in overseas markets.
  • $17.7 million over four years for additional Inclusive Entrepreneurship Facilitators that focus on mature age people and promote entrepreneurship and new business opportunities and to provide business mentoring.
  • $15 million over three years to the Australian Taxation Office to support the modernisation of payroll and superannuation fund reporting. The funding will be used to support small businesses with fewer than 20 employees during the transition to Single Touch Payroll Reporting from 1 July 2019.


  • $24.5 billion to the Quality Schools package over the next 10 years.
  • An additional $247 million over four years from 2018-19 for the National Schools Chaplaincy Program.
  • $440 million to extend the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education for the 2019 calendar year. More than 348,000 young Australians will have access to 15 hours a week of early learning.
  • $28.2 million to expand access to sub-bachelor programs in regional areas, and $14 million to fund additional places for bachelor students studying at Regional Study Hubs. This equates to approximately an extra 500 commonwealth supported sub-bachelor places and 500 places for bachelor studies.
  • To support Indigenous students, the Government will provide $38.1 million over five years to implement more efficient payment arrangements for schools; more flexible travel arrangements; and ensure consistent assistance rates for Indigenous students studying away from home.
  • From 1 January 2019, the family income cut‑off will increase from $150,000 to $160,000 per annum, with a further increase of $10,000 for each additional child in the family. This will help make it easier for more regional students to undertake post‑secondary studies.
  • Establishing a Murray-Darling medical schools network to support an end-to-end training continuum for students to study medicine in the region.
  • Creating a new Junior Doctor Training program with a strong focus on supporting training in rural settings, integral to the development of a National Rural Generalist Pathway by the National Rural Health Commissioner.

Transportation & infrastructure

The Government has outlined funding of $24.5 billion for new major projects and initiatives that form part of a 10 year, $75 billion investment in a nation-building infrastructure plan. These projects include:
New South Wales

  • $971 million for the Coffs Harbour Bypass on the Pacific Highway.
  • $400 million for the Port Botany Rail Line Duplication.
  • $155 million for a new Nowra Bridge over the Shoalhaven River.


  • $3.3 billion for additional Bruce Highway upgrades.
  • $1 billion for the M1 Pacific Motorway (Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill and Varsity Lakes to Tugun).
  • $390 million for the Beerburrum to Nambour Rail Upgrade.
  • $300 million for the Brisbane Metro.
  • $170 million for the Amberley Interchange, Cunningham Highway.
  • $64.2 million for new upgrade projects on the Warrego Highway, including Dalby to Miles, Oakey to Miles and the Carroll Creek culvert replacement.

South Australia 

  • $1.4 billion for Adelaide North South Corridor future priorities, including $177 million for the Regency Road to Pym Street section.
  • $220 million for the Gawler Rail Line electrification.
  • $160 million for the Joy Baluch Bridge duplication.


  • Up to $5 billion for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.
  • $1.75 billion for the North East Link.
  • $475 million for planning and pre construction of a rail connection to the Monash employment centre in Melbourne’s South East.
  • $225 million for the Frankston to Baxter Line electrification upgrade.
  • $140 million for additional urban priority road projects.
  • $132 million for the Princes Highway duplication between Traralgon and Sale.
  • $50 million to support the duplication of the Geelong Rail Line between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds.

Western Australia

  • An additional $1.1 billion for Metronet projects, including the Morley to Ellenbrook line, the Armadale line, Midland Station and business case funding for Lakelands Station.
  • $580.5 million for the Tonkin Highway as part of the road congestion package of $944 million.
  • $560 million for the Bunbury Outer Ring Road.
  • $144 million for the Roe Highway (Great Eastern Highway Bypass interchange).
  • $107.5 million for the Mitchell Freeway extension (Hester Avenue to Romeo Road).
  • $65 million for the Stephenson Avenue extension.
  • $46.5 million to upgrade Leach Highway (Welshpool Road interchange).

The GST top up payment of $188.9 million in 2017-18 would effectively lift WA’s share of the GST in 2018-19 to 50 cents in the dollar to support the following hospital projects:

  • $158 million for the Joondalup Hospital Expansion.
  • $20.3 million for the Royal Perth Hospital refurbishment.
  • $10.6 million for the Osborne Park Hospital expansion.

Regional roads

$3.5 billion has been committed to roads of strategic importance, which include regional and interstate highways including:

  • $1.5 billion for Northern Australia Package.
  • $400 million for Tasmanian Roads Package.
  • $100 million for NSW and ACT Barton Highway Corridor Package.
  • $1.5 billion for future national priorities.


  • An additional $1.9 billion over 12 years from 2017-18 ($393.3 million over five years) to implement the Research Infrastructure Investment Plan. Implementing the Plan will involve partially funding specific national research infrastructure projects. Projects will be delivered through an expansion of the existing National Collaborative Research Infrastructure.


  • $29.7 million in 2018-19 to deliver up to 500 local community sporting infrastructure development grants of up to $500,000 to improve community sporting facilities.

Major projects

This infographic is a visual representation of the information listed above this image


The Government will introduce a range of measures to help better protect people’s superannuation balances including:

  • Limiting fees on low balance accounts that are less than $6,000 at 3%.
  • Making it easier for Australians to consolidate super accounts or move providers by banning exit fees.
  • Making it easier for the ATO to reunite people with their lost or inactive super accounts.
  • Not allowing superannuation companies to enforce insurance policies on young individuals, particularly those with low balances and those not making contributions.


  • $30 billion in additional funding for public hospitals between 2020-21 and 2024-25.
  • $33.8 million to Lifeline Australia to enhance its telephone crisis services and funding for beyondblue and the Way Back Support Service.
  • $84 million in additional funding for the Royal Flying Doctor Service to improve the availability of dental, mental health and emergency aeromedical services in rural and remote areas.
  • $20.9 million to improve the health of women, and children in their first 6 years of life.
  • $1.3 million over three years for Epilepsy Action Australia to establish a national Epilepsy Action Response Service to provide access to high quality information and expertise on epilepsy, especially in rural and remote areas in Australia.
  • $10 million over two years to extend the Good Sports Program administered by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.
  • $5.4 million over five years to implement improvements to the administration of the Life Saving Drugs Program, which supports free access to high-cost, life-saving medicines for people with very rare medical conditions.
  • $154.3 million over five years to support Australians to be healthier by funding and expanding sporting organisations and programs.
  • For those not eligible for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) but use programs that are transitioning to the NDIS, $92.1 million will be invested to ensure their support continues over the next 5 years.

Health Research initiatives outlined in the budget include:

  • $125 million for research into chronic conditions with a focus on diabetes and heart disease.
  • $248 million to allow more clinical trials to occur in Australia and support international collaboration.
  • $94.3 million will be provided for Biomedtech programs and Industry Researcher Collaborations, to increase biomedical research.
  • $30 million will be invested to enhance the data sharing capabilities of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, improving access to data which will help Australian researchers.

Changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS)

  • $35.3 billion will be credited to the Medicare Guarantee Fund to meet estimated MBS and PBS expenditure.
  • $1.4 billion has been allocated over five years for a number of new and amended listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS). This includes medicines to treat spinal muscular atrophy, breast cancer, relapsing‑remitting multiple sclerosis and a new medicine to prevent HIV.
  • $28.2 million over five years to upgrade the e-prescribing software system used by clinicians to prescribe medicines.
  • $106.8 million over four years to modernise the health and aged care payments systems that support the delivery of Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
  • A provision of $1 billion has been set aside to support the addition of new medicines listings on the PBS.


  • $206.5 million over four years for round three of the Building Better Regions Fund, to support investment in community infrastructure and capacity building projects in regional areas, which supports regional infrastructure and community investments.
  • More than $500 million over five years to help secure the future of the Great Barrier Reef, including improving water quality, combatting crown-of-thorns starfish and conducting scientific research.
  • $50.1 million over four years to enhance security arrangements at 64 regional airports with new and upgraded screening technologies and associated infrastructure.

Technology & innovation

  • $26 million to establish a national space agency. A further $15 million for International Space Investment will provide grants to strategic space projects.
  • $29.9 million towards growing capabilities in artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • $225 million to improve the accuracy of GPS in Australia, aiming to improve productivity in transport logistics, surveying, agriculture and marine navigation.
  • $130 million to upgrade the Department of Home Affairs’ ICT infrastructure for visa processing, identity management and threat analysis, to better detect and prevent threats.

Tax payers

The government has outlined a seven year personal income tax plan including:

  • Immediate tax offset of up to $530 per year for low and middle income earners and up to $1,060 for a working couple earning between $48,000 and $90,000 annually.
  • Taxpayers earning less than $37,000 will only be eligible for a maximum tax offset of $200.
  • The government will increase the 32.5% tax bracket to $90,000 providing a tax cut of $125 per year.
  • By 2024, the government has committed to simplify and flatten the personal tax system by removing the 37% tax bracket entirely.

Tax measures for business include:

  • Up to $300 million over two years to states who reduce unnecessary regulatory restrictions on competition and small businesses through the National Partnership on Regulatory Reform.
  • The Government has also outlined plans to make digital businesses pay tax in Australia by extending GST to Australian hotel bookings made via offshore digital businesses.

Child care

A new child care package will be implemented from 2 July 2018, which will help parents with children aged 0-13 work, train, study and volunteer. The package will include:

  • One child care subsidy, replacing the two current child care payments – the child care benefit and rebate. It will be paid directly to services.
  • Families earning $186,958 or less will have no cap on the amount of child care subsidy they claim. Families earning over $186,958 and under $351,248 will benefit from an increase in the current cap of $7,613 to $10,190 per child, per year.
  • The child care subsidy will be dependent upon 3 factors: combined family income, activity levels of parents and the type of child care service.
  • Parent’s activity can include paid work, study and training, unpaid work in family business, looking for work, volunteering and self-employment. The higher the level of activity the more hours of subsidised care families can access, up to a maximum of 100 hours per fortnight.


The Government has outlined a number of measures aimed at mature-aged workers including:

  • Expanding The Restart Wage Subsidy for Australians aged 50 years and over providing up to $10,000 to employers to support workers to continue their career.
  • Establishing a collaborative partnership with the age discrimination commissioner to drive cultural change in businesses’ approach to taking on mature age employees and to equip managers and business owners to work with an aging workforce.
  • The roll out of the Skills Checkpoint for Older Workers Program for Australians aged 45 to 70. The program will provide workers with advice on how to best use their existing skills in the workforce, or identify opportunities for upskilling.
  • The Skills and Training Incentive, which will provide $2,000 per worker to fund reskilling opportunities for eligible individuals aged 45 to 70. This will be matched by either the individual or the employer.
  • $15.2 million for Job Change, which supports mature age workers transitioning into roles in growth industries.
  • Bringing forward the national rollout of the Career Transition Assistance Program (CTAP) by one year to July 1, 2019 for those 45 years or over.
  • $17.7 million to support entrepreneurs through the Entrepreneurship Facilitators Program, with a focus on those aged over 45 years.

Aged care

Through ‘The More Choices for Longer Life Package’ a number of new policies will be implemented to support people to stay at home longer, remain healthy and independent and have access to aged care.

Initiatives under The More Choices for Longer Life Package include:

  • 14,000 additional high level home packages will be delivered this year.
  • $105.7 million over four years (including $32 million from within the existing resources) to support the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program. Aiming to deliver additional residential aged care places and home care packages in remote Indigenous communities.
  • $60 million in capital investment to support new residential aged care.
  • $61.7 million over two years to make the My Aged Care website easier to use and develop simpler assessment forms for people to access aged care services.
  • $40 million over four years for aged care facilities in regional, rural and remote Australia.
  • The Government will establish a new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission. $253.8 million over four years will be provided to support the functions of the new Commission.
  • $50 million over two years for a Quality Care Fund to improve the quality of residential aged careand $32.6 million over four years to enhance the regulation of aged care provider quality to better identify risks and respond more quickly to care failures.

Mental health for aging Australians

  • $82.5 million to fund mental health services for residents of aged care facilities.
  • $20 million to pilot services for older Australians at risk of isolation to help them remain connected to their community.

Remaining active and healthy

  • $22.9 million over two years to encourage older Australians to remain physically active.
  • $29.2 million over two years to help the elderly stay independent for longer in their own home by trialling support strategies.

Changes to Pension Work Bonus

  • $227.4 million to increase the pension work bonus to $300 per fortnight (up from $250 per fortnight). The work bonus will also be extended to self-employed people. This means that the first $300 of income from work each fortnight ($7,800 per year) will not count towards the pension income test.

Changes to superannuation contributions

  • Australians aged 65 to 74 with a total superannuation balance below $300,000 will be able to make voluntary contributions for 12 months after they finish working. Currently people aged 65 to 74 must work a minimum of 40 hours in any 30-day period in the financial year in order to keep making contributions to superannuation – this is known as the work test.


Mortgage offset accounts can leave you worse off

Sharp marketing on some mortgage offset accounts means homeowners need to be on their toes.

Lenders know most people who have heard of offset accounts think they are always a good idea.

And when they sign-up for a mortgage with a lender, many home buyers are likely to tick the box for the offset account on the loan application form without paying attention to the fine-print.

However, among other things, sometimes a mortgage with an offset account can have a higher interest rate than a mortgage without an offset.

Mortgage offset accounts definitely can be a good way to get ahead on the mortgage while parking savings that can be withdrawn if needed.

Mortgage offset accounts are not created equal

Mortgage offset accounts are not created equal

Photo: Wayne Taylor


That’s because money in the offset account reduces the mortgage and therefore the amount of interest paid.

The “effective” rate of interest on the money in the offset account is the mortgage interest rate.

With many home owners paying a mortgage interest rate of least 4 per cent, that’s a much better rate than could be earned elsewhere, for example, on term deposits, where the money is locked away.

Another advantage of offset accounts is because the money in the account comes off the mortgage for the calculation of interest, nothing has to be declared to the Tax Office.

Savings held in a term deposit, for example, as well as paying less than an offset account, would require income tax to paid on the interest.

However, a recent report by comparison site Canstar shows the extent to which offset accounts are not created equal.

For starters, some offset less than 100 per cent of the mortgage. A 50 per cent offset account, for example, would pay an effective interest rate that is half the interest rate on the mortgage.

Canstar says offsets accounts that are less than 100 per cent are more likely to be found among “basic” variable home loans rather than standard variable home loans.

Having an offset account that is less than 100 per cent is not the only thing that homeowners have to be wary of.

That’s because money in the offset account reduces the mortgage and therefore the amount of interest paid.

The “effective” rate of interest on the money in the offset account is the mortgage interest rate.

With many home owners paying a mortgage interest rate of least 4 per cent, that’s a much better rate than could be earned elsewhere, for example, on term deposits, where the money is locked away.

Another advantage of offset accounts is because the money in the account comes off the mortgage for the calculation of interest, nothing has to be declared to the Tax Office.

Savings held in a term deposit, for example, as well as paying less than an offset account, would require income tax to paid on the interest.

However, a recent report by comparison site Canstar shows the extent to which offset accounts are not created equal.

For starters, some offset less than 100 per cent of the mortgage. A 50 per cent offset account, for example, would pay an effective interest rate that is half the interest rate on the mortgage.

Canstar says offsets accounts that are less than 100 per cent are more likely to be found among “basic” variable home loans rather than standard variable home loans.

Having an offset account that is less than 100 per cent is not the only thing that homeowners have to be wary of.


Homeowners find properties in path of future rail, road projects

The owners of about 400 homes in outer parts of Sydney face the prospect of acquisition in coming years after the state government released plans to reserve corridors for four major rail and road projects, including a train line to the new airport at Badgerys Creek.

A further 800 properties – about 160 of which are already in government hands – ranging from small rural blocks to larger farms also fall within the new corridors which extend for a total of 192 kilometres in the city’s outer west.

The corridors are for a north-south rail line linking the new Western Sydney Airport to existing train lines, an outer orbital motorway from Box Hill in the north to Menangle in the south, a western Sydney freight line, and a road link known as the Castlereagh Connection from the M7 tollroad to the Bells Line of Road.

The plans to gazette corridors has also led to the release of more details about the projects, just two weeks after the state and federal governments agreed to a $100-million business case to investigate station sites for a rail link from St Marys to the new airport.

It reveals a tunnel for the train line would be dug from Orchard Hills to St Marys, where it would connect to the T1 Western Line. A later extension of the north-south rail line would also comprise a tunnel between Oran Park and Macarthur.

Western Sydney Minister Stuart Ayres said affected owners would have a chance once the corridors had been gazetted to purse “owner-activated” acquisitions if they decided they did not want to remain in their homes knowing that a road or train line was likely to eventually be built.

“Some of these projects will be built in the near term – like the airport rail line – and some of these projects won’t be built for many, many years, and in some cases decades,” he said.

The plan released by the state government.

The plan released by the state government.

Photo: NSW Government

But Labor’s Londonderry MP Prue Car said people were wary of the plans for the corridors after the poor handling of compulsory property acquisitions in Sydney’s inner west for the WestConnex toll road.

“People are getting their letters hand delivered today to their homes, which is causing a lot of concern for people,” she said.

Daniel Grima, who owns a four-bedroom house at Shanes Park in Sydney’s north west, said he feared the value of his home would fall as a result of it being placed within the corridor for the outer orbital motorway.

The NSW Government has signalled 199 dwellings will have to make way for land it has reserved for road and rail projects. Vision courtesy: Seven News.

The NSW Government has signalled 199 dwellings will have to make way for land it has reserved for road and rail projects. Vision courtesy: Seven News.

“Who is going to want to buy a property in the corridor? It comes as a shock,” he said.

However, Mr Ayres said part of “this acquisition program” was about ensuring that the value of affected properties was protected. The outer Sydney orbital was “unlikely to be developed for many, many years”, and parts of it, not for decades.

“But it is critically important that we recognise that we need to reserve those corridors now. We have already seen in places like Oran Park what happens when you do not reserve corridors,” he said.

He cited the cost of the $8.3 billion northwest metro rail line between Rouse Hill and Chatswood, which was more expensive because corridors had not been reserved years ago.

In an attempt to allay concerns, Mr Ayres said any acquisitions of properties by the state for the four road and rail projects in western Sydney would occur only in the lead up to construction.

“What is scaring people across western Sydney right now is not knowing where these corridors are. We want to be able to tell people where these road and rail lines will go into the future,” he said.


Where Sydney homes get a subsidy and by how much

“Nasty” first homebuyers grants have led to higher prices in western Sydney with most of the scheme’s benefits flowing to homeowners, experts say.

Since 2011, the NSW Government has provided more than $1 billion in assistance to first and new home buyers, including grants and stamp duty exemptions aiming to make housing more affordable. House prices have continued to rise, by about 70 percent since 2012.

The schemes sometime distribute funds in ways that seem odd – homes in Bellevue Hill got more taxpayer assistance ($1,177,567) for people to buy their first place than those looking in Milperra ($612,952).

But overall western Sydney postcodes have benefitted most with places such as Liverpool, Parramatta, and Camden seeing more than $40 million in taxpayer funds used to help people buy their first home via grants in the past five years and tax breaks since July 2009. Meanwhile, across northern and inner suburbs, such as Haberfield, Forestville, Belrose and Annangrove less than $250,000 was granted to people buying their first property over the same period.

North shore home buyers are not being unfairly treated, Dr Laurence Troy from the UNSW City Futures Research Centre said.

“People have been saying for quite a long time that these sorts of policies do not support affordable housing because all they do is add an inflationary pressure into the market,” Dr Troy said.

“First home owner grants are a small part of the tax concessions that are available to owners of housing. Most of the government expenditure on tax concessions related to housing goes into the form of capital gains exemptions and negative gearing.”

recent study of government tax expenditure in the property market found negative gearing and capital gains discounts are “heavily skewed towards those who are more affluent” and raised concerns about the way these policies exacerbate income and wealth inequality.

Dr Troy said the proportions in the chart above would apply at broadly similar rates in Sydney.

“We need to stop treating housing as an investment vehicle and the essential driver of our housing policy and see it as a way to deliver a social good that has multiple benefits across how the society operates both economically and socially,” he said.

Grattan CEO John Daley said negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions “mostly feed through into increasing the price of housing”.

“If you got rid of them they would feed through into reducing the price of housing. Similarly with first home buyers grants if you got rid of them house prices would be a little bit lower on average, materially lower in outer suburbs and no real change on the harbour,” Mr Daley said.

The most fundamental problem with first home buyers grants is that there is no shortage of demand in the housing market, so they just add to property prices, CEO of the Grattan Institue John Daley said.

“It’s the same number of people looking for housing, it’s just that they have more money in their pocket than they did [without a grant],” Mr Daley said. “And because everyone in the area is prepared to borrow an extra $80,000 because they’ve all got an extra $15,000 in their pocket [to leverage] then, it’s happy, happy days for property developers and very bad news for those induviduals.

“They are second home vendors grants really, the person who benefits is the person who already owns a home. The nasty thing about these is that they lead people to pay even more for the house.”

House prices are partly driven by lack of supply due to planning laws and the restrictions they place on building new homes, Mr Daley said.

“Either people accept greater density in their suburb, or their children will not be able to buy a home, and seniors will not be able to downsize in the suburb where they live,” he said.

“The only other choice is you can reduce demand by tapping the brakes on migration.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said since the government launched its housing affordability package in July 2017, the number of first home buyers has more than tripled compared with the same period 12 months earlier.

“From the outset, we have been cautious to balance our support for first home buyers against the need to avoid putting upward pressure on house prices, which is why we developed the scheme in close consultation with former RBA Governor Glenn Stevens,” Mr Perrottet said.

“The results speak for themselves – 21,550 new first home buyers across NSW since July last year, including more than three times as many in the north shore area.

“At the same time, we have seen prices moderate, which further improves the choice and affordability for first home buyers,” he said.

First home buyers grants and tax breaks in the 2017/18 budget will rise from $94m in 2015/16, to $276m this year (2017/18).

The latest ABS data shows NSW taxes on property rose by $2.17bn (20.2 per cent), the most in the country, between 2014/15 and 2015/16.


Did you know you can be secretly blacklisted as a tenant?

You can be blacklisted as a renter without even knowing it.

Key points:

In fact, being put on one of these tenancy databases could mean you’re blocked from renting for years.

These databases are run by private companies and accessed by landlords and agents who report so-called “bad tenants”.

Many renters are reluctant to share their story for fear of backlash or shame.

Amanda’s story

Amanda* is a mother with a large family. At the end of her lease, she and her partner looked for a new place to rent, but were rejected over and over.

It turned out they were secretly put on a rental blacklist.

“I was probably looking at three to four houses a week. There was only me applying, there was no-one else and I was getting knocked back so many times,” she said.

“I didn’t have a clue why. I thought it might have been I had too many kids. I thought it might have been my income. I really didn’t know.

“It was very stressful. I didn’t get a house for six or seven months.

“I was living with my mum who only had a two-bedroom house and there was me and my six kids. We were just all over the shop.

“I didn’t know where I was going to go or how long it was going to take to find a new house.

“I was declined, declined, declined … day after day.

“I reckon I would have been homeless [without my mum].

“Then one [agent] was actually very honest with me. She said: ‘They put you on [a database] for rent arrears’, so I took [my previous agent to court].”

People with arms folded

Amanda did not owe any rent at the end of her lease.

“[The previous agent] had to tell me by law. I was told nothing. She didn’t even send me an email,” Amanda said.

“I was very upset and cranky. She could have at least told me I was put on there or I could have worked out something with her. But she didn’t do that, she went behind my back.

“She wasn’t very fair at all.

“Now I’m very happy with my new real estate [agent].

“I was just honest and upfront about what happened. I outlined that [the blacklisting] wasn’t for rent arrears.

“She gave me a second chance because no other real estate company was going to give me a chance.

“She signed me up for a six-month lease. She was very honest and willing to give me a go.”

*Not her real name

Overview of house

Here are some ways to avoid being blacklisted

What can I be blacklisted for?

In all states except the Northern Territory, there are tight rules about how a tenant can be blacklisted to stop malicious listings.

Generally, you can only be listed:

  • at the end of a lease AND
  • when you owe rent that’s more than the total of the bond OR
  • as the result of a court or tribunal order

In Victoria, breaches of your rental agreement, such as malicious property damage or endangering neighbours’ safety, can get you blacklisted.

In Queensland, objectionable behaviour or repeated lease breaches may also get you blacklisted.

In the Northern Territory, there are moves to provide more protections for renters. But, until that happens, the system is unregulated and there are broad reasons for being blacklisted, including overdue rent or breaching the lease agreement.

If you’re in the NT, you may not even know you’ve been listed, there are few ways to appeal and no legal time limit on how long you’ll be on it.

NT Consumer Affairs says to avoid being blacklisted you should pay your rent on time and not damage the property.

How will I know I’ve been listed?

In all states except the NT, landlords and agents must tell you in writing before they blacklist you, allowing you time to appeal against the decision.

Even when you’re applying for a place, you must be told whether a database will be used and when a listing about you comes up.

In some states, there are fines if landlords or agents don’t follow these rules.

How can I appeal against a listing?

Depending on your state, you can appeal against a listing if it’s incorrect, out of date or unjust.

In most cases, listings of more than three years must be removed.

You could raise an objection with the agent or landlord or relevant appeals body, such as a court or tribunal.

Do I really need to pay to check my record?

Database companies usually charge a fee but tenant advocates say you shouldn’t bother with them unless you have a reasonable suspicion you’re on a list and know exactly which database you might be on.

“There’s no real urgency to contact the database operators,” said Mark O’Brien, chief executive of the Tenants Union of Victoria.

“The system’s not supposed to work that the tenant does the checking, the system is supposed to work that estate agents tell you if you’re listed.”

In New South Wales, you’re entitled to obtain a listing from the person who listed you free of charge.

For Lease signs outside an apartment building.

Who are the database operators?

You probably don’t know these names but they might already know yours.

Operator Name Description
Trading Reference Australia Checks for defaulting tenants and runs the online rental application system, tApp.
TICA Australian company that checks tenancy history and offers police background checks and insurance products.
National Tenancy Database Run by American-based company Equifax, this company scans bankruptcy, court and company directorship records.
Tenancy Check Also run by Equifax and checks data from courts and tribunals and private databases.
DataKatch Checks for defaulting tenants and searches courts, Facebook, Google and LinkedIn.
Barclay MIS Debt-collection company that checks for defaulting and fraudulent tenants.