There are just days left before this financial year's tax deadline, so if you haven’t already lodged your return, now is the time get cracking!
We have come up with our top tips to help you get your return right and maximise your tax refund this year:
1. Maximise your tax deductions –if you are claiming less than $300 you don’t need to keep receipts. The average amount claimed in personal tax returns for work related expenses in Australia is $1,920 per year, so claim what you can to ensure you don’t miss out on a great tax refund. Just make sure you know what you are allowed to claim in your occupation and keep the right records so the Tax Office can’t disallow your claims.
If you’re not sure what to claim, have a look at the Personal Tax Specialists’ website http://personaltaxspecialists.com.au/what-deductions-can-you-claim where you can find the specific tax deductions for more than 30 occupations.
2. Beware of E-Tax – the Tax Office is encouraging everyone to lodge their returns using E-Tax this year, but unless you really understand the tax system it’s easy to make mistakes. E-Tax won’t tell you if you have forgotten to claim for something or if you have filled in a box incorrectly and this could result in you not receiving the refund you are entitled to, or being penalised if you are audited.
Even though you will have to pay a fee to your Tax Agent for lodging your tax return, their skill and knowledge can save you much more than it costs (in time, stress and in dollars). And the fee is tax deductible!
3. No receipts needed for items less than $10 – it’s sometimes difficult to get (or keep) receipts for all of your minor purchases during the year. Rather than having to worry about them, just keep a diary with the information that would normally be shown on a receipt (date, business name, item purchased, price). Then you can claim up to $200 a year for these small expenses, without keeping any receipts.
4. Claim for your donations – if you have made donations of $2 or more to charities during the year you can claim a tax deduction on your return. You don’t even need to have kept receipts if you donated into a box or bucket and your donation was less than $10. But if you received anything in return, for example a pen, badge or raffle ticket, then you can’t make a claim.
5. Save on tax all year round, not just at tax time – ask your employer to pay for some of your work expenses for you using the salary sacrifice system. This way you won’t need to keep any receipts for your expenses and you will have more money in your pocket each week (rather than waiting until the end of the year when you lodge your tax return to get your refund).
Some work expenses you could salary sacrifice are:
• Laptop computers (one per year)
• Mobile phones or PDAs
• Tools or work equipment
• Subscriptions to magazines or journals (that relate to your work)
• Meals at work (breakfast, lunch, morning and afternoon tea, dinner – as long as it is provided at work and not at a restaurant or coffee shop)
When you salary sacrifice, your employer pays for the expense for you and deducts the GST exclusive cost from your gross pay. You pay less for the item (because your employer can claim back the GST) and the tax deducted from your pay is less.
For more information about any of these tips contact Personal Tax Specialists Pty Ltd on 1300 335 675, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.personaltaxspecialists.com.au.
Tracey Collins, for the Personal Tax Specialists team
About Personal Tax Specialists
• Offers personal tax returns for investors and people working in professional occupations
• Specialises in these occupations: travel consultants, nurses, teachers, building industry, sales representatives, Defence force, journalists, airline industry, chefs, emergency services, real estate, security guards, rental property owners and share investors
• Established in 2009 by tax professionals Tracey Collins and Christine Snelson
Phone 1300 335 675 - Fax 02 8007 0542 www.personaltaxspecialists.com.au