Farm House Expenses

Farm House Expenses

From the start of the 2018 tax year the IRD have implemented some new rules for the amount of expenses farmers can claim on their house expenses.

It was common practice for farmers to claim 25% of many farmhouse expenses and 100% of others. This has now changed and for the majority of farms the 25% will fall to 20%, but before that there is a first hurdle that needs to be jumped.

IRD have split farms into two types:

  • Type 1 farms – where the value of the farmhouse is 20% or less of the total value of the farm
  • Type 2 farms – where the value of the farmhouse is more than 20% of the total value of the farm

It will be critical to establish your farm type first, because for Type 2 farms the rule changes will mean that IRD will not accept an automatic claim of 20% and, instead, more work will need to be done to calculate the percentage claimable.

Deductions for a Type 1 farm

Farmers who live in the farmhouse on Type 1 farms may determine whether expenses are deductible based on assessment of the relationship Statement. However, the Commissioner will also accept that 20% of the farmhouse is used for business purposes without any supporting evidence. As a result, such farmers can claim 20% of all farmhouse expenses as deductible business expenses. This covers the expenses that were previously being claimed at the rate of 25%, expenses such as electricity, insurance and repairs and maintenance. In addition you may now only claim 50% of the cost of their telephone and internet charges down from 75% previously, unless you can justify that the percentage should be higher.

Type 1 farmers may continue to claim 100% of the interest costs relating to the farmhouse and 100% of rates.

Deductions for a Type 2 farm

Farmers who live in the farmhouse on Type 2 farms must determine whether expenses are deductible under the general permission and general limitations as set out in this Interpretation Statement.

For farmers operating Type 2 farms, there is no minimum percentage of the farmhouse that the Commissioner will accept as being for business purposes. Farmers operating Type 2 farms may only claim deductions for expenses, including interest and rates, relating to the actual business use of the farmhouse. There is also the same limit of 50% of the cost of their telephone and internet charges down from 75% previously, unless you can justify that the percentage should be higher.

Calculating actual use

When apportioning expenses between the business and private use of the farmhouse, Type 2 farmers must undertake a “home office” calculation like any other taxpayer who carries on their business from home. This calculation must be based on the actual use of the farmhouse (for example, on a time and space basis), regardless of whether there is a dedicated home office or different parts of the house are used in the business.

The following is an adapted example of how to calculate the “home office claim” in the situation of a non-dedicated office.

“The farmhouse does not have a home office. Instead, the taxpayer holds business meetings at the kitchen table and manages the farm accounts from the family computer in the dining room. In addition, they sometimes prepares lunches for business visitors in the farmhouse kitchen. The partnership can claim deductions for the business proportion of expenses relating to the farmhouse.

The partnership’s telephone bill lists the toll calls made each month and can only claim a deduction for the calls made for business purposes. For the fixed telephone charges, there is a claim for 50% of the fixed telephone charges unless they can show that the actual business use of the telephone is greater than 50%.

The floor area of the house is 150m2. Together, the dining room and kitchen make up 40m2 in total, or 27% of the floor area of the farmhouse. They calculate, on a fair and reasonable basis, that these rooms are used for the farm business for 20% of the time. This means that the business use of the farmhouse is 5.4%.”

If you have any questions please contact us to discuss.