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12 last minute tips to save on your taxes

With just a number of weeks until the end of the tax year, now is the time to be thinking about some last minute planning to maximise your refund for the year.

So, what should you be doing as we head towards June 30.

Also read: Are you making yourself poorer instead of richer?

1.  Running your own business?

If so, look to utilise the $20,000 instant asset write-off. This allows you to claim an immediate tax deduction for all capital purchases costing less than $20,000, rather than depreciating the cost over several years, as used to happen.

This is great for tech items such as computers, tablets and phones, as well as tools and equipment for tradies, office furniture and even motor vehicles.

Also read: Economists warn of recession and financial crisis hitting Australia

The allowance is available to all businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $10 million.

2. Home Office

If you are in employment but work from home, either occasionally or all the time, and run a home office, you are entitled to deductions for costs arising from working at home. The expenses that you can claim include:

  • Heating, cooling and lighting
  • Cleaning costs
  • Decline in value (depreciation) of home office furniture and fittings, office equipment and computers (for items over $300)
  • Computer consumables, stationery, telephone and internet costs
  • Items of capital equipment (such as furniture, computers and associated hardware and software) which cost less than $300 can be written off in full immediately

With many retailers running End Of Financial Year specials, any purchases you make now can be deducted in your tax return from 1 July onwards so from a cash flow point of view, you can minimise the time between purchase and tax deduction!

3. Car expenses

If you use the log-book method, now is the time to check that your log-book is up to date and that you have all the receipts, invoices and records of journeys which you will need to calculate and substantiate your claim

4. Mobile Phone

If you used your personal mobile phone for work purposes, you can claim a deduction for the business related use. Make sure you have your phone bills collected together and have kept a log of your business/personal use over a four week period. That percentage can then be applied to the whole year.

5. Charitable donations

Make a last minute charitable donation. You can claim a deduction for donations of more than $2 to a registered charity provided you have a receipt for the donation.

6. Prepay some expenses

You can claim a tax deduction this year for expenses which wholly or partly relate to next year. So, if you have some spare cash, consider paying things like union fees and professional subscriptions in advance in order to accelerate the deduction.

7. Gather written evidence

Make sure you have written evidence, such as receipts, invoices and bank or credit card statements, for everything you intend to claim.

8. Make a tax deductible super contribution

If you have some spare cash, look at making a personal contribution into your super fund. Provided the total amount of your contributions (including the contributions made on your behalf by your employer) does not exceed $25,000, this can be a great way to boost your retirement savings and claim a tax deduction for the personal contribution. The payment must be made by June 30th and you need to advise your super fund that you’ve made the payment by the time you’ve lodge your tax return (your super fund or accountant can give you guidance on how to complete the form and there’s a standard form on the ATO website here: https://www.ato.gov.au/forms/notice-of-intent-to-claim-or-vary-a-deduction-for-personal-super-contributions/)

9. Charitable donations

Make a last minute charitable donation. You can claim a deduction for donations of more than $2 to a registered charity provided you have a receipt for the donation.

10. Buy a new handbag

If you use a bag for work, to carry papers or a laptop perhaps, you can claim a tax deduction for the cost. That could include a briefcase, a backpack or a handbag, whichever suits your needs.

11. Offset capital gains against capital losses

If you’ve disposed of shares or any other form of investment and you know you’ve made a capital gain, take a look at your investment portfolio and consider disposing of any assets which you own which you know are sitting at a loss. The resulting capital losses can be offset against the capital gain.

Be careful though if you sell shares sitting at a loss and then buy them back in the new tax year. The ATO takes a hard line against so-called “wash sales”. This refers to the sale of an asset before the year end and the purchase of a substantially identical asset immediately after the year end. The ATO regard the purchase and the sale as effectively the same asset and have issued a Tax Ruling which states that they can apply the anti-avoidance provisions to cancel any tax benefits and apply penalties.

12. Seek expert help

Speak to a tax agent like H&R Block. They can identify exactly what you need to do to get into shape for the 2018 tax season and maximise your deductions. 

Mark Chapman is the Director of Tax Communications at H&R Block.