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Posts Tagged ‘financial year’

  • Last-minute tips to save on tax
  • What to claim, how to file
  • Plenty of help on ATO website

HAPPY New Year! Well, almost. With only 24 hours left until the end of financial year, what should you be doing today to ensure that you don’t end up with a big tax hangover tomorrow?

“Don’t forget to pay your expenses,” says Tracey Nicholson, the Assistant Commissioner of Taxation.

“Ensuring that expenses are paid and claimed in the correct tax year can save a lot of headaches in having tax returns amended down the track.”

Ms Nicholson suggests that some top-priority things for taxpayers to do prior to lodging their return include:

• Go surfing! The ATO website, that is.

“There is a wealth of information on the ATO website, both general as well as information that’s specific to various professions,” says Ms Nicholson. “It’s a great place to start your research on what you may be able to claim as a deduction.”

• Spring clean the house to find your receipts.

“At the end of the day you need to keep your receipts to substantiate your claims,” says Ms Nicholson.

• Lodge online.

If you are DIYing your tax, Ms Nicholson recommends the online e-tax process as a great way to complete your return.

“It’s free, and has a great step-by-step process that will help remind you of anything that you have forgotten,” she says.

It can be worth getting professional advice as well though. Bill Keays, founding director of WA-based Hales Keays Chartered Accountants says that in his experience there are a number of tax-related benefits that people sometimes overlook.

“Motor vehicle expenses are often overlooked,” he says.

“You can claim up to 5000 kilometres of work-related use based on a reasonable estimate of business kilometers, without needing to keep a log book. But some people think that if they haven’t kept a log book, they can’t claim.”

Another forgotten area, according to Mr Keays, is depreciation on a rental property.

“Sometimes clients are not aware of how much depreciation they can claim,” he says.

“For taxpayers who have a relatively modern rental property, engage a quantity surveyor to prepare a depreciation report. They will typically save you many times more than their fee due to the deductions they identify.”

But lest you get carried away with all the potential deductions out there, remember that you do need the paperwork to back it up.

“We conduct plenty of audits,”says Ms Nicholson.

“We’re going to have a special focus on truck drivers, sales and marketing managers, sales reps and electricians this year – but any taxpayer has the chance of being audited.”

And while it may be too late for this financial year, consider getting some professional advice for next year’s tax return because sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.

“There’s usually always some way in which we can save clients extra money, either by identifying deductions or simply getting their tax structures right to start with,” says Mr Keays.

“The Small Business CGT concessions are a great example.

“One of my clients was expecting to pay capital gains tax of approximately $240,000 when he disposed of his business and he ended up paying nothing by applying these concessions.”

Your tax time checklist                                                                                                                                                                                           

To help you get the best tax return possible, here’s a few things to tick off your “to do” list today:

1. Are you eligible for the Superannuation Co-contribution? If so, it’s up to $1,500 of free money.

2. If you use your car for work, don’t forget to estimate your motor vehicle expenses.

3. A 20% tax offset is available for out of pocket medical expenses over $1500.

4. Donations of over $2 made to a deductible gift recipient are tax deductible.

5. The cost of having your tax return prepared is also an allowable deduction.

6. Income Protection insurance premiums can also be a tax deduction.

7. Small business owners who are selling business assets can take advantage of extremely generous “small business CGT concessions.”

8. You can claim up to $300 of work related expenses without the need to have written receipts. However once your claim exceeds $300 you must have receipts for the full amount.

9. Don’t forget all those miscellaneous work expenses such as union fees, seminars, trade journals, software and home office expenses. Even an appointment diary can be deductible.

10. Check the deductions fact sheet for your specific occupation to ensure that you are claiming everything that you are entitled to.

Source  :   www.news.com.au

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SUPERANNUATION balances have recovered about $70 billion in the past few months as the share market continues to gain ground.      super

The average growth fund is believed to have jumped another 1 per cent in May, adding $10 billion to balances.

This takes the recovery since February to about 7 per cent, or $70 billion.

According to independent research house Chant West, despite recent improvement, the average growth fund is still forecast to lose 13 per cent for the financial year.

Chant West investment research analyst Mano Mohankumar said yesterday results were still being held back by the share market and an continuing fall in unlisted assets, expected to show up to a 25 per cent loss for the year to June.

A separate survey released yesterday showed the downturn has put retirement plans of hundreds of thousands of Australians in doubt

Every second retiree or soon-to-be retiree had lost up to $50,000 in the past year from retirement savings or investment portfolios. About one in three had lost up to $100,000, it said.

The Bankwest survey, Retiring in the Downturn, said retirement plans of 74 per cent of older Australians had been disrupted.

“While younger Australians have years to recover, many retirees have little chance to recover lost wealth,” Bankwest’s Ian Corfield said.

Source  :   www.news.com.au

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Migration Agents – Migrant numbers need to increase to support infrastructure projects

The Migration Institute of Australia (MIA) has warned the government that work on infrastructure projects will be difficult to accomplish following the decision to put australian-immigration-construction-workers restrictions on the skilled migration program.

While the MIA welcomed the Australian immigration ministers decision to increase the number of humanitarian and family reunion Australian visas for the 2009/10 Migration Program, they were less than impressed with the decision to remove a number of trade-level occupations from the skilled occupation list.

“The MIA awaits with great interest to see how the Government proposes to administer the new job-readiness criteria for trade occupations. It’s hard to imagine a one-size-fits-all assessment system of employability,” said Maurene Horder, CEO of the Migration Institute of Australia.

The Government reduced the Australian skilled migration program at the turn of 2009, when the recession was starting to take effect. The planning level for the remainder of the 2008-09 financial year was reduced from 133,500 to 115,000 skilled migration visas and the Critical Skills List (CSL) and priority processing order were both introduced so that the Government could target the skills it needed most.

As of the 01 July 2009, the Australian skilled migration planning levels will be further reduced to 108,100 visas, and the CSL and priority processing order will remain as guidelines for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s visa processing officers. This means that sponsored visas and independent visas with skills nominated in the health, engineering and IT sectors will constitute a major part of Australian visa approvals during the start of the next financial year.

Fortunately, the Australian skilled migration program remains flexible to the needs of the Australian economy. While states/territories and employers have been given greater power to target the skills they need, the Immigration Minister Chris Evans also has the ability to extend the planning levels for the Australian skilled migration program and amend the CSL so that certain nominated trades can have priority for processing, if the economy needs a boost in skilled workers.

Senator Evans said in a recent statement that the Government is committing itself to “a long-term planning framework for migration as a key component of the current reform agenda” and that their extension of the family migration scheme is testament to its perception of the importance of family.

“We are recognising the importance of family through this boost which will benefit Australians who seek to have their parents, partners or children join them to live here permanently,” Senator Evans added.

The family stream of the Australian migration program has had 2,500 places added to the Spouse and Fiancée Visa program, 1,000 places to the Parent Visa program, and 300 to the Child Visa program.

Source www.gettingdownunder.com

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What is superannuation?

Superannuation is a way of saving for your retirement. Both you and your employer can make contributions that accumulate over time andsuper this money is then invested in shares, government bonds, property, or other appropriate investments.                                 

On retirement, or after disability or death you then receive the money (less charges and taxes) as regular periodic payments (ie, a pension), a lump sum payment, or a combination of both.

Employers must contribute to an employee’s superannuation fund. This is called the Superannuation Guarantee, which came into operation on July 1, 1992.

The amount of the contribution is 9 per cent of an employee’s wages (excluding overtime, leave loading and fringe benefits).

Some employees are left out. The Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act says that employers do not have to pay the Superannuation Guarantee in certain circumstances.

Some of the exceptions are:
• employees earning less than $450 per month;
• employees under the age of 18 who work 30 hours per week or less;
• employees over 70 years of age;
• anyone paid to do domestic or private work for 30 hours per week or less.

Can the employer pay more?

An employer can make payments above the compulsory superannuation guarantee as:
• a reward for a worker’s performance;
• a type of co-payment, where the employer’s contribution increases in line with the employees voluntary contribution; or
• a ‘salary-sacrifice’ – this is where the employer makes a contribution that would otherwise be paid as salary.

Note, there are limits to the amount of salary sacrifice that can be made in a financial year.

If you want your employer to pay more, you should get advice from a financial advisor, but keep in mind that employers are limited in the amount that can be claimed as a deduction for superannuation contributions made for a particular employee.

Check with your superannuation fund or the Australian Tax Office to find out what these limits are – they change each year.  www.ato.gov.au

Should I contribute too?

If you have money left over after your weekly expenses, and you want to save for the future, you may want to consider making superannuation contributions as compared to other forms of investment.

Note, there are aged base limits that affect whether or not you can contribute to superannuation – for details, see the Australian Taxation Office web site.

Some of the advantages are:
• generally, you pay less tax on interest from superannuation savings than bank interest;
• with a ‘salary sacrifice’ the superannuation contribution is taken straight out of your wages, so you are not tempted to use it for purposes other than savings.

There are limits to the amount that you can “salary sacrifice”;
• the interest on superannuation savings is ‘compounded’, that is, interest earned by the superannuation fund is added to the total investment, so the interest earns more interest.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority estimates that a sum of money ‘compounded’ at 7 per cent a year will double in value in ten years; and
• you may be able to access the benefits of the low income super rebate and low income spouse rebate.
• you may be able to access financial incentives offered by the Government such as the co-contribution scheme. Under this scheme Government will contribute up to $1500 (depending on your income) when you contribute to your fund.

Check the Australian Taxation Office web site for details.

Ultimately, the pros and cons of contributing to superannuation is something you should get advice about.

What are the tax advantages?

The maximum tax rate for your employer’s contribution is 15 per cent.

The income you earn through the fund’s investments is also taxed at a maximum 15 per cent rate.

Salary sacrifice contributions will be taxed at 15 per cent.

Once you reach 60 you can withdraw your superannuation as a lump sum or income stream tax free.

There are also tax advantages if you contribute to your spouse/de facto’s super fund. The set off depends on their income. Check the Tax Office for details.

What laws apply?

The main laws that apply to superannuation are the:
• Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act and Regulations (regulates most private superannuation funds);
• Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act and Regulations (tells employers the minimum contribution they must pay);
• Income Tax Assessment Act,.

The jargon

Accumulation funds – money is invested and the final benefit depends on the total contributions, plus earnings of the fund.

Annuity – like a pension. You receive regular periodic payments for either fixed amount of time or until you die.

Benefit – the money paid to you out of the superannuation fund or held on your behalf within the fund.

Contribution – the money paid into the superannuation fund by either you or your employer.

Defined benefit funds – the final benefit is paid on the basis of a specific formula, so the employer carries the risk if the growth of the fund does not cover the benefit.

Lump sum – money received in a single payment.

Preserved – money that you cannot withdraw from your fund until retirement or certain other events, eg reaching a certain age and leaving employment either temporarily or permanently. This includes money paid by your employer, interest earned on that money or contributions paid by a self-employed person which have been claimed as a tax deduction and any undeducted contributions you make after 1 July, 1999.

Rollover – transferring money from one fund to another.

Unrestricted or non- preserved amount – money that can be paid to you at any time form your superannuation fund

Rights to information

You are entitled to certain information from your superannuation fund. This includes:
• a member statement which shows the amount of your benefit at the start and end of the relevant period, the amount that is preserved and contact details (generally provided annually);
• a fund report which shows the fund’s financial position (generally provided annually);
• notification of changes that affect you, e.g. a change to the superannuation fund’s rules; and
• a statement that shows your benefit, including death benefits when you leave.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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The Education Tax Refund (ETR) is a new government initiative to help with the cost of educating primary and secondary school children. It means eligible parents,tax refund carers, legal guardians and independent students could get 50% back on some education expenses. This includes items like computers, educational software, textbooks and stationery.

Most people are eligible for the ETR because they receive Family Tax Benefit (FTB) Part A. However, there are some payments that prevent you from receiving FTB Part A, but which still entitle you to receive the refund. You can also claim the refund if you are an independent student.

You can claim the ETR each financial year for children in primary and/or secondary school, or if you are an independent student. You will be able to claim the refund from 1 July 2009 for the 2008/09 financial year. This means you can claim for items purchased from 1 July 2008. Remember to keep your receipts as they will help you calculate your entitlement and you may be required to produce them as proof of purchase.

You can claim the ETR even if you are not required to lodge a tax return.

For more information, see  http://www.educationtaxrefund.gov.au/about-the-ETR/

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