As inflationary pressures start to bite, many businesses may be seeking rental deferrals or variations from their landlords to help them through this tough period. However, if your business has been lucky enough to receive a waiver, deferral or variation of rent you need to be aware that there may be income tax, GST and perhaps even CGT consequences, depending on a number of factors.
Where your business owes rent for a past occupancy period which is later waived or released by the landlord, including under bankruptcy or insolvency law, if you have already claimed a deduction for the rent on the business tax return, you’ll still be entitled to that deduction. However, the unpaid amount will be considered a debt forgiveness. This means the amount won’t need to be included in the assessable income of the business but may be offset against amounts that could otherwise be claimed as deductions.
For businesses that have already paid rent for a past occupancy period and claimed a deduction, any amounts waived or refunded will need to be included as assessable income.
Where your landlord waives rent related to a future period of occupancy, the business won’t be entitled to a deduction for the amount of rent that would have been paid. The only amount that can be claimed is the amount of rent that the business is required to pay.
For businesses that account for GST on an accruals basis, a waiver or variation of rent payable may lead to GST consequences. If the business has already claimed a GST credit for the rent which is waived or refunded, an increasing adjustment will need to be raised to pay back the credit that was claimed. This needs to be done in the BAS period when the business becomes aware of the waiver or receives a refund.
Deferrals, however, generally don’t need any GST adjustment. Businesses do need to be aware that if their landlord has changed the rental agreement, including timing or amount of scheduled payments, the GST credit that can be claimed will be based on the new agreement. In addition, if your business had claimed a GST credit for a deferred amount which the landlord later writes off as a bad debt, an increasing adjustment may be required.
Businesses that account for GST on a cash basis need not worry about adjustments, as they can only claim GST on the basis of actual rent paid as shown on a tax invoice.
Rental concessions may also have CGT consequences for your business. This may occur if, for example, your landlord has changed the rental agreement for payment or other consideration from the business or has created a new or additional agreement.