Monthly Archives: August 2018

ATO crackdown on rental properties, holiday homes

The ATO is stepping up its focus on rental property owners, in particular holiday home owners. Photo: Leigh Henningham The ATO will contact 1000 owners who may have incorrectly claimed rental deductions. Photo: Jessica Shapiro
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It may be a good idea to review records now so that you are prepared should the taxman come knocking. Photo: Gabriele Charlotte

Australians who rent out their holiday homes for just a few weeks a year, but try to claim full-year deductions on their tax returns have come under fire from the Australian Taxation Office.

The ATO is stepping up its focus on rental property owners, in particular holiday home owners, and will soon write to 1000 owners who may have incorrectly claimed deductions for initial repairs to recently acquired rental properties.

The ATO told Fairfax Media that last year it had sent out letters to 500 postcodes across Australia, reminding people to only claim the deductions – including maintenance and mortgage interest –  they are entitled to, for the periods the holiday home was rented out or was genuinely available for rent.

A spokeswoman said most taxpayers that received these letters have subsequently reduced their claims.

A key concern in regard to holiday home owners, is when people make claims for expenses when the property was not genuinely available for rent.

Stuart Wagschall, of Thomas Davis & Co, Accountants in Sydney said: “Holiday home investors should be aware that the ATO appears to be taking a broad approach in monitoring rental deductions.”

“Where relevant, it may be prudent for holiday home investors to take this opportunity to review the rules surrounding holiday home tax deductions to ensure that any risks or issues are addressed in a timely manner. It may also be a good idea to review records now so that you are prepared should the taxman come knocking.” Deducting repairs

But it’s not just holiday homes that are under focus. “We are also commencing some work to address rental property owners incorrectly claiming deductions as well,” the ATO spokeswoman said.

The ATO’s taxation statistics for 2012-13 show that 1.26 million people deducted losses made on investments (including mortgage interest) from their overall income, from a total of 12.77 million individual tax returns lodged for the period.

A common mistake for rental property owners was claiming deductions for initial repairs to rectify damage, defects or deterioration that existed at the time of purchasing a property, the ATO said.

“It’s important for taxpayers to understand they are not entitled to claim a deduction for repairs to their rental property for issues that existed when they purchased it, even if they carried out these repairs to make the property suitable for rent,” she said.

“The cost of these repairs is instead used to work out any profit, or capital gain, when the property is sold.”

Holiday house owner Derryn Timms, who rents out her four-bedroom house “Char-ree-leera” in the coastal town of Eden, halfway between Melbourne and Sydney, is determined not to become alarmed.

“We’ll be handing on their letter to our tax accountant,” said the 59-year old callisthenics teacher. “We won’t think about it. It’s something we don’t want to know about; let the experts sort it out.”

There are likely to be plenty of other owners, however, who will be panicking. It’s an industry for both holiday and short-term rentals that, in a 2014 BIS Shrapnel report, was said to generate an estimated $31 billion in economic activity and support 238,000 jobs.

Property Owners Association of Australia NSW president John Gilmovich says that at a time when there’s talk about tax reform for property owners, there’s bound to be plenty of confusion about the rules. “I think there would be certain property owners who’ll fall into that category,” he said.

“There’s also confusion about the whole Airbnb debacle and tax too, and we’ve been lobbying for regulation on that market, like the regulation that exists for other property investors. But it will be difficult as there are no central registers.”

-with Sue Williams

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Mark Latham blasted by White Ribbon over domestic violence comments

Mark Latham is to have a one-off radio show on Triple M. Photo: Channel 9 Australian of the Year 2015 Rosie Batty.
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Mark Latham lashed out at “attention seekers” on The Verdict.

Mark Latham to get show on Triple MLatham behind trolling Twitter accountMark Latham: ‘Negro’ not offensive

Mark Latham has been condemned by the White Ribbon foundation for “shameful” comments on domestic violence which were broadcast across the country on Friday afternoon.

During his one-off “Lathamland” show, the former Labor leader said men used domestic violence as a “coping mechanism” and described the issue of being a political bargaining chip for a “feminist left”.

“Blokes have lost their self-esteem, they’re welfare dependent, they’ve got other troubles, drugs, alcohol in their life. It’s that loss of self-esteem where I think they use the domestic violence as a coping mechanism to get over all the other crap they’ve got in their lives,” he said.

Radio station Triple M, a media partner of the White Ribbon foundation, did not apologise for broadcasting Mr Latham’s comments in a statement issued while Mr Latham’s “Lathamland” program was still on air.

“Triple M stands side by side with White Ribbon and will continue to push conversations about domestic violence no matter how uncomfortable. This is an issue that needs to be spoken about,” Mike Fitzpatrick, head of the network, said.

“We call for all men to stand up and hold those who commit acts of violence against women and children to account.”

But the White Ribbon foundation and social media users were angered by the former would-be prime minister’s comments.

“Mark Latham’s views on domestic violence, as aired by Triple M, show his lack of understanding and knowledge of this complex issue, including its prevalence, causes and community response,” White Ribbon Australia chair John Rosewarne said.

“Domestic violence is a complex social issue. In understanding and preventing this violence it is vital to involve men, which is why White Ribbon Australia works with organisations such as Triple M that have a strong male following.”

They later tweeted: “Domestic violence is much more than physical violence; it’s never a coping mechanism.”

Mr Latham also used his radio show to attack Australian of the Year Rosie Batty for “generalising about men”.

“That’s the thing that worries me about the domestic violence campaign, it’s being run for political reasons. It’s left feminists pushing what they call definition of patriarchy.”

Mr Latham accused Rosie Batty of “demonising men” and said research showed domestic violence was less of an issue now than it was 30 years ago. Latham has the right say what he likes. @TripleMMelb has a responsibility not to give a platform for misinformed, hateful, harmful stuff.— DeeMadigan (@deemadigan) January 22, 2016Mark Latham is on Triple M. Home of rock is now home of crock.— Tom Gleeson (@nonstoptom) January 22, 2016So Triple M gives Mark Latham a platform to attack Rosie Batty. Shameful. And, no, I’m not adding a link.— Tracey Spicer (@TraceySpicer) January 21, 2016

“Demonising men makes the problem worse and if you want a solution, then deal with men in public housing estates and the Aboriginal communities where the problem is targeted,” he said.

“By attacking poverty rather than attacking men you’ll get a far better solution than the nonsense we’re hearing from Rosie Batty and the other left feminists.”

Australian Greens Deputy Leader Larissa Waters described Mr Latham’s comments as “appalling” and further evidence a Sex Discrimination Commissioner was needed.

“There is absolutely no excuse for domestic violence,” Senator Waters said.

“The national effort to end domestic violence is not as Mr Latham describes ‘a campaign against all Australian men’ – most Australian men are strongly in support and many are a part of this national effort to save women’s lives.”

Social media users lambasted Triple M for airing Mr Latham’s “Lathamland” podcast, with many asking whether White Ribbon would continue to court the radio station’s support. Mark Latham is worried about the impact of the domestic violence campaign. Many Australian women are also worried. About being murdered.— James McHale (@JamesMcHale) January 22, 2016Given Triple M’s audience of about 17 people, the outrage has given Latham more oxygen than the show ever could.— John Johnsonson (@JohnJohnsonson) January 22, 2016

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Move over, McMansions: Sydney’s terrace houses head west

Graham Collins, 60, outside his terrace home at Thorton Estate in Penrith. Photo: Kate Geraghty Inside at Penrith’s terrace houses. Photo: Kate Geraghty
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Five fresh trends in new homes

Graham Collins’ western Sydney property was once a display home. And in many ways, it still is.

Visiting friends often remark on the surprising amount of space offered by a type of housing long found in Sydney’s inner suburbs but almost unheard of amid the near-ubiquitous big blocks of Penrith: a terrace house.

“It’s not like you’ve grown up in Surry Hills or something like that where terrace houses are the thing,” said Mr Collins, who downsized from an acre block near Springwood. “This is new for Penrith.”

But rising land prices and the desire to be close to shops and transport has fed a growing interest in denser styles of housing on greenfield sites, such as UrbanGrowth’s Thornton estate.

It is an interest the state government is keen to foster as a middle ground between high rise and detached dwellings as it seeks to build greater density into Sydney’s neighbourhoods.

“Terraces are more energy efficient than detached dwellings and this type of housing offers more variety and flexibility for Sydney’s changing demographics,” Planning Minister Rob Stokes said.

“Thornton demonstrates the timeless appeal of well-designed terrace houses – with a human scale, street appeal and affordable and usable private open space,” Mr Stokes said.

Mr Collins and his wife Robyn were among the first buyers to sign up when the state government’s property development arm began selling the estate’s mix of terraces, courtyard houses, and detached dwellings – all within a short walk of Penrith’s railway station and town centre – about three years ago.

UrbanGrowth reports the estate’s 140sqm to 460sqm block sizes, with an average of 350sqm, delivers an overall population density similar to that of a neighbourhood of three-storey walk-up apartments.

“I came over that afternoon and had a look at all these places along here, didn’t even go home. I rang up my wife and I said: ‘You’ve got to come look at these, this is really good’,” said Mr Collins, who was so pleased with the concept for the four-bedroom display terrace that the couple even negotiated to buy some of the artwork hanging on its walls.

Matthew Beggs, head of UrbanGrowth’s western Sydney projects portfolio, said the agency took a “leap of faith because it needed to be proven” that terraces would be successful in a greenfield market.

“When you see the response, the proof’s in the pudding,” Mr Beggs said.

The Collinses’ neighbours, Natalia Watanabe and Rose Foster, also bought in 2013, and said the lines of people camping out to secure a spot in the estate have only grown since the project has become better known.

“People went absolutely mental,” Ms Foster said of later sale campaigns. “Natalia was walking to the train station to go to work one day and saw campervans, and the park across the road, we had tents pitched in it.”

Further terrace housing is to be rolled out in the Leppington in Sydney’s south-west, and has already been embraced elsewhere by major residential developers such as AV Jennings.

The company’s general manager for NSW, George Diniakos, said about 10 per cent of its estates were now reserved for terraces, a figure that was likely to grow.

“These terraces actually resonate with a lot of buyers” Mr Diniakos said.

“We found that it suits the type of lifestyle people are looking at the moment.”

Western Sydney Business Chamber president David Borger, a former Housing Minister, said Sydney had developed a “fetish” for super high rise housing, when terraces also offered a solution to density.

“When you’re outside of the town centres, high rise apartments may not be appropriate and other options like terraces should be considered,” Mr Borger said.

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Racing: Mourinho team hopes lightning can strike twice in same place

These days the Gelagotis brothers from Moe are so often seen in the mounting yard and for group and listed races that it hardly seems appropriate to continue referring to them as the battlers from the bush.
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That is how trainer Peter and stable manager and media go-to man Manny might have started out, but over the years they have steadily increased the quality of their stock and the pair have proved that if the horse is good enough, so are they, and their Gippsland location is no barrier to success.

No galloper has raised their reputation as much as stable favourite Mourinho, the eight-year-old greybeard who, if anything, is getting better as he gets older.

The son of Coolmore-raced Oratorio is highly effective between 1400 metres and 2000m, a distance his sire excelled at.

But he is also a handy horse over shorter trips when fresh, as he showed last year when he sprang a $31 surprise in upsetting the odds laid on Dissident to take out the 1200m Jeep Australia Stakes, a group 2 event at Moonee Valley.

The Australia Stakes is the first big race of the Melbourne summer/autumn carnival and Mourinho will back up once more at the Valley, a track he has a tremendous record at, to try to go back-to-back on Saturday.

This year’s field, boasting several group 1 winners (including Mourinho) looks on paper a lot hotter than the one he beat last season.

But bookmakers are taking no chances with the Gelagotis contender, and he is posted around the $9 mark despite the fact it will be his first racecourse appearance since he ran down the track behind Winx in the Cox Plate last October.

Mourinho’s chances were compromised badly by his bad draw that day, but the way the Chris Waller-trained mare scooted around the bend and went away from a top field meant he would not have beaten her anyway.

This time round he has a much more favourable alley, jumping from stall two.

Partnered again by now regular rider Vlad Duric (who was aboard when Mourinho won this race last season and also when he won the group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes and the group 1 Underwood Stakes at Caulfield in 2015) Manny Gelagotis is hoping Mourinho’s good fresh record, liking for the Valley – where he has won five times and placed on another three occasions from 13 starts – will ensure he is competitive on Saturday.

“He won it well last year but the race does seem to have a lot more depth this time in,” says Gelagotis.

“He loves the track and he excels fresh. We have not publicly trialled him because he has been in work a week longer before this race this year. But it is a more competitive race with, on paper, anyway, a stronger field.”

It’s hard to disagree.

The racebook is headed by Rebel Dane, a hardy warrior who is a group 1 winner and who is competitive in virtually all the top sprints every season.

Hucklebuck, from the South Australian stable of Phillip Stokes, is another who has won at the highest level having taken out the Emirates Stakes in 2014, as is Darren Weir’s Trust In A Gust, the hero of the 2014 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes and Toorak Handicap, both fiercely competitive group 1s run during the spring carnival.

Still, old Mourinho goes into the contest as the horse with the highest official rating (112), two points more than Rebel Dane and Trust In A Gust, and four more than Hucklebuck.

The well-fancied improver Durendal is stepping up to this open-class group level for the first time, and a measure of the gulf he has to close is that he is officially rated at 98 going into this event, a stone in old-fashioned terms below Mourinho. He will have to carry the same weight as the established stars, although the fact the Matthew Ellerton/Simon Zahra-trained runner is fit, in form and a specialist short-course horse stands in his favour.

Gelagotis says that whatever Mourinho does on Saturday he will only show more at his next scheduled start, in the 1400m CF Orr Stakes at Caulfield – a group 1 in February – and then at the same track over 1800m in the Peter Young Stakes.

“It’s a beautiful surface for him there at the Valley and he will derive a lot of benefit from the outing. It’s a great kick-off point as we head to longer races with him. Until last year we had never run him below 1400m and he won here, so you never know.

“After the Orr he will go to the Peter Young Stakes and defend his title there [that was another group 2 contest Mourinho won in 2015] and then we will make a decision on whether to target the Australian Cup at Flemington, or head north to the championships.”

Ground may be the determining factor. If Flemington comes up fast for the Australian Cup weekend then the Gelagotis team might feel it has little option but to head to Sydney, where ground conditions are often softer.

“We want to be sensible and only go where we think we can win. It does look like Winx might have his measure at the moment, but if Flemington is too hard we won’t be scared to go to Sydney.”

Team Gelagotis has also been entrusted with the care of star Tasmanian galloper The Cleaner, controversially removed late last year from his long-time handler Mick Burles.

Gelagotis says The Cleaner is in light work at the moment but that his trainer, brother Peter, is determined to give the eight-year-old – another front-running Moonee Valley specialist in the Mourinho mould – a long spell before bringing him back for a tilt at the top 1600-2000m events next spring.

“Peter wants to bring him back 100 per cent. He wants no excuses, and wants to do it his way.”

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Short story: Matter of Respect

Worth 1000 words: Summer Herald will each day publish a short story competition entry. The winner will be announced on January 30. Picture: Peter Stoop
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IT WAS only 9.15 but Cory was totally over school. The relief teacher was useless. Now she was making heavy weather of the roll in Home Group, reading out everyone’s name in painful succession.

Ms Stackhouse would have used her eyes and scanned the front rows for most of the names.

“Jenna Grantham?”


“David Guthrie?”


“Benjamin Han?”

“He’s away – broken arm.”

“Thank you. Skye Ianello?”

“Yes, here.”

“Cory Irvine?”

When there was no response the teacher spoke louder.

“Cory Irvine!”

David kicked Cory under the desk. His mate was clearly off with the fairies.

“… Er, yes, Miss!”

The class erupted. Cory reddened with embarrassment then made a show of light-heartedly cuffing David over the head. Since when had he called one of his teachers “Miss”?!The sooner this day was over the better.

At recess there was more ribbing from Cory’s friends before the conversation moved on to possibilities for his birthday celebrations. He felt little eagerness for his 16th birthday next month. What good would it do him?

He wanted to get out of school and away from all this crap. Cory’s mum didn’t hold the line at many things, but this was one of them.

She wanted him to get through to the end of Year 12 and walk away with that bit of paper. Even if afterwards he wanted to work at the freeway Macca’s he needed something to show for all this time at school.

The prospect of another two and a half years of this filled Cory with despair.

By four o’clock Cory and David were hanging out with a group of three other boys at the far side of the town’s carpark, doing a few easy tricks on their skateboards.

There wasn’t much going on today. It was the same most days. Maybe he’d talk David into skipping school tomorrow and spending the day over near the new council offices. There were some cool spots to ride and carve there, as long as they didn’t get busted.

Cory knew his mum would explode when she found out but, hey, the temptation was great. And Saturday was Anzac Day. Big deal, he thought, but that meant Monday was a holiday. So if they skipped school that meant four whole days of freedom.

In the end Cory spent Friday at school, putting in no effort at all. What was the friggin’ point? He wanted to get the hell out of school and this town.

By Sunday lunchtime they were hanging out again in the main street. Cory had slept ‘tileleven, told his mum he was going to David’s, then taken off.

He saw his mum’s drawn face reflected in the hall mirror as he went through the front door. He didn’t want to see it, but he did.

Later, the boys were sprawled around one side of the little stone edifice of the town’s war memorial. Fresh wreaths, all crisp ribbons and soft petals, lay on the steps nearby.

Cory clipped one of the wreathswith his flying board as he came out of a failed tailslide.

The wreath tumbled down a couple of steps as Cory recovered his balance.

In no time, old Mr Thurbon came out of the hardware store opposite, his brows an angry streak across his face.

“Hey, young man! Cory, isn’t it? I knew your dad and I think he’d be disappointed in you. Show some respect.”

Cory looked at him dumbly. He knew he should have been more careful but, Christ, it was only some old wreath. Mr Thurbon wasn’t backing off though.

“I think you could place that wreath back where it was, don’t you?”

In whatwas a pretty perfunctory effort from Cory. He picked up the wreath and pushed it back amongst the others. He mumbled sorry under his breath.

“Do you have any idea, Cory, what this memorial means?”

“I guess.”

“Well, if you did, you and your friends wouldn’t be showing disrespect.

“See here, in this list of men who gave their lives in the First World War, is your own great grandfather and his brother. Did you even know your own family lost two young men?”

Cory stared, speechless, at the names Mr Thurbon was pointing out.

Irvine A.W. and Irvine G.W.

Right there!

“I didn’t know, Mr Thurbon.”

“No, I don’t suppose you did. I’m guessing if your father was alive he would have told you the full story.”


Cory’s head hung and his cheeks were flaming. Tentatively he stepped back from the stone memorial and picked up his board.

“Sorry, Mr Thurbon. I didn’t know.”

“Perhaps you should find out about those Irvine brothers, Cory.”

“Don’t know how …”

Cory felt a stab of desolation. His own great-grandfather and his brother. He’d never even imagined that.

“Well, I never thought I’d be telling a young person this but it’s all on the internet. There’s a site you can look up everything.”

Barely an hour later Cory surprised his mum by coming in to sit at the computer. It wasn’t so easy but eventually he found it.

Archibald Walter Irvine, married with one child, killed in France in July 1916. Must be him – his father’s middle name was Archibald.

There was heaps more stuff to read.

But he couldn’t help himself. Had to look for the brother. Finally he found the right entry.

George William Irvine, same next of kin as Arthur. But he’d died a year earlier. In fact, it was almost exactly 100years ago.Something shifted in Cory as he read.

George had died at Gallipoli in May 1915, only a few days after landing.

Andhere was the twist of the blade. George was only 16.

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