As we head towards the end of the financial year, now is the time to take steps to get your tax affairs in order and look at any last minute planning to maximise your return.
Here are my three tips for a happy tax time:
1. Check your paperwork
Take some time out to gather together all the information you will need to help you prepare your tax returns, including invoices and receipts for work-related expenses and any bank/credit card statements that contain items of work-related expenses that you no longer have (or never had) receipts or invoices for.
If you’re not sure if it’s claimable, collect together the receipt or invoice anyway and discuss it with your tax agent. If you don’t have the paperwork, you can’t claim a deduction so it makes sense to set aside this time in advance of the end of the financial year to spare yourself a stressful document hunt whilst you’re actually in the process of getting your return prepared.
In addition, if you’re claiming any expenses that have a work-related element and a private element (such as for the use of a personal mobile phone) set some time aside to work out what a reasonable apportionment is for the work-related bit.
2. Do some last minute planning
As we’ve not yet reached the end of the financial year, it’s not too late to generate some additional tax deductions this tax year:
If you have any professional subscriptions or union fees due, pay by 30 June and you can claim the deduction for the whole amount this year.
Charitable donations are tax deductible – anything over $2, with a receipt, paid to a charity registered as a deductible gift recipient (which covers most major charities) will be deductible.
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 lodge your 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).
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.
3. Get help
There’s a reason 74 per cent of Australians use a tax accountant, like H&R Block, to prepare their tax return; tax is complicated. Get your tax return wrong and the comeback is on you, either with a lower refund or ATO penalties.
Most people find it far less stressful to simply pass on all their information to a tax accountant and leave it to the accountant to complete their return, safe in the knowledge that the return will be accurate and complete.
An experienced agent will usually be good at sniffing out those obscure tax deductions you didn’t know you could claim so they can often pay for themselves several times over. Best of all, the tax agent’s fee is also tax deductible.