10 Ways to be Tax-Organised

It's that time of year again! Finance writer, blogger, and author, Justine Davies shares her top 10 tips to be tax-organised this year.

1. Surf the ATO website. The ATO website has some fantastic information regarding when and how to lodge your tax return, as well as guidance on income, expenses and rebates. Check it out.
2. Don’t forget to include all your income. As well as your group certificate (if you are employed), don’t forget to include all other income that you earn, such as share dividends and interest on bank accounts.
3. Pay your bills on time! Remember to pay any tax-deductible costs that you have by June 30th, otherwise you won’t be able to claim them in your tax return this year.
4. As soon as July 1st hits, print out and file away copies of all your bank statements for the financial year. It saves future headaches trying to track them down.
5. Know what work expenses you can claim. Some allowable deductions can depend on the industry you work in and can be as varied as the cost of making up a cash/bar shortage for airline employees, a bullet-proof jacket for police officers, the cost of a portable fridge for truck drivers, tinted contact lenses for performing artists and a fob watch for nurses. Others are more common though. You may be able to claim stationery, computer software, a scanner, shredder or desk lamp – even a portable fan. Tip: every item sold at Officeworks can potentially be a tax deduction!
6. Know what other general expenses are claimable. Donations made to registered charities are a tax deduction, so is the cost of having your tax return prepared by a registered tax agent. The cost of an income protection policy is a tax deduction, as are some self-education expenses.
7. Check your thresholds. There are a number of tax offsets and rebates that may be available, so check how close you are to the relevant thresholds. Some examples include the net medical expenses tax offset, the low income earners tax offset and the heath insurance rebate threshold.
8. Update the Department of Human Services. The amount of any government benefits you are entitled to depends on your family’s income level. If you realise, when putting together your tax return, that your earnings have changed, ensure that you let the Department of Human Services know.
9. Keep your receipts. It may seem obvious, but to claim something as a tax deduction, you generally need to have proof of purchase, so make sure you have a paper trail. Even better, scan all your receipts and keep a digital file as well.
10. Lodge your return on time! It’s a shame to do all the hard yards of collating your data – only to lodge your return late. The deadline will differ depending on your method of lodgement, so make sure you check it out.
Find out more at www.ato.gov.au

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