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It's Tax Time

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) refunds billions of dollars to over three-quarters of all taxpayers annually, but it takes a little effort to ensure you get as much tax back as you can. But while Australian taxpayers receive on average around $2,500 according to the ATO in tax refunds annually, there’s no guarantee two people earning the same income, will receive the same tax refund. That’s because many Australians fail to maximise their tax deductions they’re legally entitled to, and even worse, ATO estimates around 200,000 taxpayers who failed to lodge tax returns last year, would have received a refund.

Getting your situation in order

While tax deductions are the easiest way to maximise your tax refund, there’s some homework to be done to ensure you maximise the tax you get back.

Much of this homework revolves around good record keeping, to ensure everything you claim as a tax deduction is substantiated with a valid receipt. For example, if you’re claiming driving expenses for a car that you own, make sure they’re diarised along with dates and mileage. It’s no different when you’re claiming back charitable donations for any amount over $2, so make sure you retain all receipts.

The key variables

Most of the key variables that impact on how much tax you get back, revolve around legitimate work-related expenses that your employer hasn’t already reimbursed you for.

If you’re unsure of what’s tax-deductible, why not check what other people in your job are claiming as deductions and then check with a licenced tax agent? But regardless of the industry, you’re in, generally speaking, most deductions include work-related expenses for:

•          Vehicle and travel expenses for work-related travel

•          Clothing, laundry and dry-cleaning expenses

•          Mobile phone, internet and home phone expenses

•          Overtime meals

•          Self-education expenses

•          Tools, equipment and other equipment

•          Other work-related deductions, like union fees and professional subscriptions

•        Expenses incurred on things like heating, cooling, lighting while regularly working from home

If you’re unsure about what work-related expenses you can claim, check out the ATO website or with a licenced tax agent.

Super, investment costs or other items

Another way to receive a bigger tax refund is either by making a personal contribution to your super or by adding to your spouse’s fund before the end of the financial year. A maximum rebate can be achieved by contributing $3,000 into super.

Given that tax matters relating to investments are inherently complex, having a professional correctly review other investments can return in spades. For example, it may be appropriate to consider offsetting the loss you’re carrying on any assets (like shares and units) against a profit made on the sale of others’ assets, on which capital gains tax is now payable.

A timely review of the income protection insurance (you may already have through your super), can also result in tax benefits. That’s because a policy taken out in your own name (this financial year) can be claimed against assessable income, thereby potentially reducing the up-front cost of protecting your income. Similarly, if you earn more than $90,000 (singles) or $180,000 (families and couples), you can avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge (calculated at the rate of 1% to 1.5% of your income) by having hospital cover, which in addition to providing the cover you need, may also be cheaper than the surcharge itself.

For more information on this another tax issues, contact your licenced tax agent.

Stu Varidel and Your Choice Financial Planning Pty Ltd trading as Heart Financial Advisers are authorised representatives of Sentry Financial Services Pty Ltd AFSL 286786.

The information contained herein is of a general nature only and does not constitute advice. You should not act on any information without considering your personal needs, circumstances and objectives. We recommend you obtain professional financial advice specific to your circumstances. The views expressed here are not ours. While the information contained in this article may contain or be based on information obtained from sources believed to be reliable, it may not have been independently verified. Where information contained in this publication contains material provided directly by third parties it is given in good faith and has been derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. To the maximum extent permitted by law: no guarantee, representation or warranty is given that any information or advice in this publication is complete, accurate, up to date or fit for any purpose; and no party or associated entities as mentioned is in any way liable to you (including for negligence) in respect of any reliance upon such information. This article may also contain links to websites operated by third parties who are not related to us. These links are provided for convenience only and do not represent any endorsement or approval by us.

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