Introduction

Who are the top 5 property accountants in New Zealand?

If you're a property investor in New Zealand, you need a property accountant.

Not just because you're legally required to submit a tax return each year - a property accountant will also save you money by reducing the tax you have to pay.

But it's hard to tell the difference between someone who understands property accounting and a general accountant who doesn't.

They will both seem sure of what they're saying … and use technical words that we don't understand.

So, who's the expert? How do you tell them apart?

That's why in this article we'll break down the top 5 property accountants in New Zealand who we know are experts in their field.

How They Made The Cut

How have these property accountants made the list?

Because we work with hundreds of property investors from around the country each year, we at Opes Partners also get to meet many property accountants.

Many are good … others, not so much.

All the property accountants on this list were chosen because we've met them, worked with them, and we can hand-on-heart say we would use them again.

It's important to note, though, that this list is not in order from best to worst. All of the accountants on this list have a reputation for quality and are worth considering.

Matt Harris | Momentum Property

1. Matt Harris | Momentum Property | Auckland

Before becoming a property accountant, Matt Harris was an investigator for the IRD, digging through the details to uncover tax fraud and misdemeanours.

After leaving the IRD, he set up several accountancy practices, including Momentum Property.

That experience sleuthing for the tax department has given Matt a front-to-cover knowledge of the tax code.

He knows it inside and out and knows how our tax department interprets our country's tax rules. That means he knows how far you can push to reduce your tax … and what is a step too far.

Although Matt runs a few accountancy and money-related brands, such as Lighthouse financial, this list highlights Momentum Property.

That's because this brand has a straightforward pricing structure.

They charge $990 + GST annually to file your tax return for a first property. If you require additional set-up, they also have simple fees. Setting-up a look through company costs $650 + GST, and a family trust, $1,750 + GST.

Investors who have simple tax arrangements – like salary and wage earners – are the perfect fit for this service. On the other hand, business owners may require a more bespoke service.

On top of this, Matt is a property investor, with real estate holdings across the country, including Auckland, Hawke's Bay and Canterbury.

Momentum Property is based on High Street in Auckland's CBD.

Momentum Property | Property Accountants
Matthew Gilligan | GRA

Matthew Gilligan | Gilligan Rowe and Associates | Auckland

Next, we have Matthew Gilligan from Gilligan Rowe and Associates (GRA).

Matthew is the author of property investment textbooks – Property 101 and Tax Structures 101.

GRA is one of the largest property-focused accountancy firms in the country, with over 8,000 clients on its books.

He has a particular interest in investing in the Auckland property market, which is why his book, Property 101, has a specific focus on our country's largest city.

However, that doesn't mean he only has experience in Auckland. He owns property throughout the country. At a recent seminar, held in 2019, he stated he was increasingly investing in Christchurch.

With that many clients and a staff of around 100, Matthew will not be the person filing your tax return.

But, because he understands property investment, he can impart that knowledge to his team. That should give you the confidence that you'll get sound property tax advice if you choose to work with GRA.

The firm reportedly claims to have never lost a case against the IRD, where the tax department has challenged returns filed by one of the firm's clients.

Matthew has been an industry stalwart for several decades, and over that time has built a sizeable portfolio. He is a regular contributor to Property Investor magazine.

Gilligan Rowe and Associates are based on Broadway, Newmarket.

GRA Property Accountants
Peter Taylor | BDS Accountants

Peter Taylor | BDS Accountants | Auckland

Peter Taylor makes the top 5 because of the immensely positive feedback we've heard anecdotally from his clients. In short, they love him.

He loves to laugh and is a real character, which endears him to the investors he works with.

He founded BDS Accountants in 1996, and the firm has 14 staff. That makes BDS one of the smaller boutique firms on this list, which may mean it is the right fit if you like to work with the senior partner within a business.

You're more likely to get face-to-face time with a smaller practice owner than one that is 5-10 times the size.

BDS also has a more general accounting approach than the first two brands featured on this list. They don't pitch themselves as property accountants and offer services to all sorts of businesses.

That can be attractive if you also run a business and want all your accounting needs taken care of by one practice.

Peter is an extraordinarily successful investor in his own right, in residential and commercial property. He also holds art as part of his investment strategy.

BDS Accountants are based on Albert Street, in Auckland's CBD.

BDS Property Accountants
Jane Jackman | NEXIA

Jane Jackman | NEXIA | Christchurch

Jane Jackman and her team at Nexia are the only accountants on this list from outside Auckland, based in Christchurch.

She is one of the most experienced accountants on this list, with over 30 years in the industry.

That experience means she fully understands property accounting tactics regularly used to reduce the amount of tax you'll have to pay. These often range from using a home office to depreciating chattels within an investment property.

As the only South Island-based accountant in our top 5, Jane may be the right fit if you are based in Canterbury and you value face-to-face discussions with your accountant.

Also, Nexia is the only firm on this list that is part of an international group; Nexia International runs 727 offices in 122 countries.

So, if you value the feeling of security that often comes when working with an established international brand, Nexia may be right for you.

Nexia is based on Victoria Street, Christchurch Central.

Nexia Property Accountants
Mark Withers | Withers Tsang

Mark Withers | Withers Tsang | Auckland

On our list, the final property accountant is Mark Withers, one of the name partners from Withers Tsang.

Like all accountants on this list, Mark has earned a significant standing in the property investment industry.

He is a life member of the Auckland Property Investors Association. He is also a frequent contributor to Property Investor magazine.

He is one of the original accountants who began educating property investors on the need to minimise tax. So much so he authored Property Tax: A NZ Investors Guide, the first book published on this subject in New Zealand.

Withers Tsang is the second-largest practice on this list, with around 40 staff. While that means it’s unlikely you will work with the name partners, their oversight means the whole team will be briefed on the right way to minimise tax and protect investors’ assets.

Mark knows how to talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk. He personally invests in commercial and residential property.

Withers Tsang is based on Pollen St, Ponsonby.

Withers Tsang Property Accountants
What's the best one for me?

Which property accountant should I use?

Having got to the end of this list, you may be wondering “which of these property accountants should I use?”

The truth is each professional will give you quality advice and will have a team that can file your tax returns. That's why they've made this list.

But there are small differences that may make a slightly better fit, depending on your individual situation and what you prefer.

For instance, Momentum Property's straightforward pricing structure is likely to suit investors with small portfolios.

If you have complex accounting needs because you're a business owner or use lots of trusts and entities, then going with a full-service brand may be the right fit.

Similarly, the size of the firm you work with will indicate how much talk-time you’ll get with the accountants.

If that’s important to you, you might prefer a smaller firm. If not, then one of the larger firms will be fine.

Related Articles

Want To Learn More About Property Taxes?

If you're keen to learn more about property tax, then check out these articles: Where Are The Cheapest Local Council Rates For Property Investors?; Will We See a Capital Gains Tax in NZ?; Beginner's Guide to the Bright-Line Test; and A Guide To Interest Deductibility.

Ed McKnight

Ed McKnight

Ed McKnight is the host of the Property Academy Podcast – NZ's #1 business podcast. He is an economist, having studied at the University of Auckland and the University of Waikato. He's a frequent writer for Informed Investor Magazine and has contributed to NewsHub, Stuff, OneRoof and Property Investor Magazine.