1. Will an actual Quantity Surveyor visit your property?
Sounds like a silly question, but lots of companies these days are taking short-cuts and sending unqualified people to inspect properties. Their job is to collect data for someone else – hopefully a Quantity Surveyor – to estimate. This is not ideal.
If the person visiting your property is NOT a Quantity Surveyor, your Depreciation Schedule should only cost $300 or so.
2. Is your Quantity Surveyor a registered Tax Agent?
From March 1, 2010, all companies doing Depreciation Schedules needed to be registered as Tax Agents. This is the first step by the ATO in dealing with some of the dodgy practitioners in this industry. If your QS does not have a Tax Agent number, there could be a good reason
3. Is your Quantity Surveyor a member of the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (AIQS)?
The AIQS assist their members to keep on top of the ATO rules. To find out whether your QS is a member, go to www.aiqs.com.au and check the Business Register under ‘find a member’. Your chosen QS firm should be here.
4. Who is your QS affiliated with?
This can tell you a lot. We are affiliated with St George Bank, Count Wealth, PIS, The Australian Institute of Conveyancers and many smaller groups. Around 60% of our work comes to us from accountants.
5. Does your Quantity Surveyor specialise in tax work ?
Many QSs turn to tax work only during the tax season. Sometimes they’re not up to date with the current rules. Many of the Depreciation Schedules produced each year will not pass an ATO audit and you need to remember that you are liable for any errors – you are the ATO’s client, not the QS.
6. Can your accountant extract information from the schedule easily?
There is no point you having to pay your accountant to fiddle with a Depreciation Schedule after you have paid for the Schedule. That’s why so many accountants recommend us to their clients.
7. Can your QS assure you that it will be worthwhile ?
Ideally, you should look for a guarantee. If you have photos of the property, your QS should be able to give you an indication of the expected depreciation before they visit the property.
8. Does your QS provide you with both depreciation methods?
As an investor, you can elect to use either of 2 different methods of depreciation – Diminishing Value and Prime Cost. Your Schedule should include both.
9. Does your QS service the entire country ?
If you need additional Schedules down the track, there is a benefit (and cost saving) from using a national company.
10. Can your QS handle volume?
During tax season, time is of the essence. Your QS needs to be set up to handle the volume expected at this time. And very few are.
11. Can your QS answer questions about the Schedule?
When you get your Schedule, you or your accountant may have questions. Your QS should be able to answer questions at length. If a data collector visited the property, you won’t get great answers.
12. Does your QS represent genuine value?
NEVER base your decision solely on price! Instead weigh up all of the factors we’ve highlighted and then make an informed decision. Is it worth saving a hundred dollars or so if you end up with a schedule that won’t pass an ATO audit? Or one that your accountant will have to fix (at your cost)?