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Tax deadline: 10 things you need to do right now to maximise your return

If you want to get the most out of your tax return, there's steps you should take before it's too late.

With just a few weeks to go until the end of the tax year (EOFY), you might think it’s too late to knock your taxes for the year into shape. However, even this close to EOFY, there are still some last-minute planning opportunities to maximise your refund from the Australian Taxation Office.

So, what should you be doing as we head towards June 30? Here's 10 things to check today.

1. Running your own business?

If so, look to utilise the “instant asset write-off” measure. This allows small businesses (with a turnover of less than $10m) to claim an immediate tax deduction for all capital purchases costing less than $20,000, rather than depreciating the cost over several years.

Mark Chapman is a tax expert and he's revealed what you should be doing now to ensure you get the biggest return possible at tax time.
Mark Chapman is a tax expert and he's revealed what you should be doing now to ensure you get the biggest return possible at tax time. (Belinda Grant-Geary)

This is great for tech items such as computers, tablets and phones, as well as tools and equipment for tradies, office furniture and even some motor vehicles (provided the cost is less than $20,000, so it would be suitable for second-hand vehicles).

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Remember, as well as making a purchase, the asset you acquire also must be used or available for use in your business, so realistically you need to get the item delivered and installed by 11:59PM on 30 June. If you buy something now for delivery and/or installation in July, you won’t be able to claim the deduction this tax year.

2. Home Office

If you are in employment but work from home, either occasionally or all the time, 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 EOFY specials, any purchases you make now can be deducted in this year’s tax return so from a cash flow point of view, you can minimise the time between purchase and tax deduction!

Don’t forget if you are claiming the ATO’s 67 cents per hour fixed rate deduction for working from home, you must have a complete record of all your hours worked from home from 1 July 2023 (eg, a diary, timesheets or rosters).

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 that you will need to calculate and substantiate your claim.

If you use the cents per kilometre method, you will still need a record of all work-related journeys during the year.

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 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.

This deduction can’t be claimed if you have used the 67 cents per hour method to claim working from home expenses (which already includes a component for mobile phone expenses).

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 that wholly or partly relate to next year. So, if you have some spare cash, consider paying things like union fees, professional subscriptions and annual insurance premiums in advance 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 $27,500, 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 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.

9. 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 that you own that 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 regards the purchase and the sale as effectively the same asset and has issued a Tax Ruling which states that they can apply the anti-avoidance provisions to cancel any tax benefits and apply penalties.

10. 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 2024 tax season and maximise your deductions.