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MUM and dad investors will receive generous concessions to park their savings with banks and building societies as part of sweeping tax reforms.

The Rudd Government is preparing to unveil a new savings scheme offering tax breaks similar to superannuation’s discount rate of 15 per cent, The Daily Telegraph reports.

It will encourage investors to deposit savings with the four major banks and other respected financial institutions.

But investors will have to “lock up” their savings — perhaps for between five and 10 years — to qualify for the special rate.

The new savings deal will be announced as part of the Government’s much-anticipated response to the Henry tax review.

It will be part of a suite of measures aimed at building a new savings culture in Australia.

But it is also hoped it will generate billions of dollars in bank deposits, cutting the need for finance houses to borrow from overseas.

The Government expects it will be popular with voters who currently face punishing tax rates on savings. Some taxpayers can pay up to 50 per cent on interest earned from their bank deposits.

Australia is one of the few countries in the world to tax bank savings at the full rate.

Among key reforms, taxpayers will be able to lodge their annual tax returns with a few clicks of a mouse.

And Australia’s antiquated tax system — containing 125 different taxes — will be streamlined to simplify arrangements.

It is understood the Reserve Bank and other financial authorities have raised concerns about the steady decline in deposits.

Bank CEOs have been lobbying Canberra for changes to taxation on ordinary bank deposits, claiming the superannuation industry gets a huge advantage.

And they have a strong ally in Treasury boss Dr Ken Henry, who has also raised concerns over the punitive rates faced by those who save with banks.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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JANNIE and Amanda Klue, their eyes wide with desperation, are staring at two distinctly different futures.
One future embodies the Australian dream: running their own business, living in their own house, building community ties and watching their two children, Jan-Sari, 9, and Pieter-Nick, 6, flourish in an environment that is far removed from their homeland.
The Klues have been living that dream since migrating to the Sunshine Coast from South Africa 22 months ago.
The other future is a bleak one: a barb wire-fenced home with security cameras, guard dogs and streets deemed too unsafe for their children.
The Klues lived that nightmare in South Africa. And now they have been told they must return to it.
Having sold everything before moving to Australian on Christmas Day, 2007, the family must leave the country after their application for a state-sponsored business-owner visa has been rejected.
On Monday, the Klues learned they have until October 19 to get out of the country after they received two-week bridging visas.
In a bid to stave off deportation. Jan-Sari wrote a letter to Anna Bligh this week, in which she pleaded with the premier to help her family.
“We don’t want to leave Australia,” she wrote. 
“My mum and dad has (sic) come to Australia for my brother and my future.”
Mr Klue said on Friday that he had bought a business – Middy’s grocery store at Buderim – as required under the business-owner visa and had ticked every other box, bar one.
He said he couldn’t sufficiently prove to immigration officials that one of the two money-lending businesses he had owned in South Africa was actually his and, as a result, the family didn’t meet the visa’s minimum-assets requirement.
“I thought everything would work out,” Mr Klue said.
“I’m not a fugitive or a criminal … they will show discretion and let commonsense prevail.”
Fighting tears, Mrs Klue described the situation as “unreal”.
“It shouldn’t have come to this,” she said.
Mrs Klue said her children were well-established at Buderim Mountain Primary School and the family now considered themselves Aussies.
An immigration spokeswoman said the Klues simply didn’t meet the criteria for a state-sponsored business-owner visa, and then failed to lodge their appeal against the ruling on time.
She said applicants must show they owned and directly managed a business with a turnover of at least $300,000 for two of the past four fiscal years, or had a successful record as a senior manager.
“Entering Australia on a temporary visa does not mean you have an ongoing right to remain in Australia,” she said.
A spokesman for Ms Bligh said while immigration was a federal government matter, state officials were talking to immigration officials about the Klues’ case.

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From 31 October 2009, the South Australian Government Financing Authority (SAFA) has announced it will not accept any further applications from General Skilled Migration (GSM) applicants who wish to lodge a capital investment, as it will close the scheme.

Since the announcement of the reopening of the capital investment scheme by SAFA on 29 January 2009, the department has contacted all applicants whose cases had been assessed and who indicated they intended to lodge a capital investment.

Any applicants who have indicated on their application form that they intend to lodge a capital investment, but have not yet done so, are advised to finalise their capital investment before the scheme is closed.

Applicants who did not indicate on their application form that they intended to lodge a capital investment, but now wish to do so because they will be relying on the five bonus points to meet the Point Test, should also contact the department and finalise their capital investment before the scheme is closed.

This is the final opportunity for all pre 1 September 2007 GSM applicants to lodge a capital investment. As there will be no further capacity for applicants to make a capital investment to gain the bonus five (5) points, the department will not provide applicants any additional time to make a capital investment once the scheme offered by SAFA closes. Please note that this also applies to those applicants who have appealed to the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT) and those applicants seeking judicial review.

Applicants who still intend to make a capital investment are strongly urged to do so before 31 October 2009.

Please note that only SAFA provides an approved designated security that enables an applicant for a pre-1 September 2007 GSM visa to be awarded bonus points for making a capital investment.

For more information  :  http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/capital-investment-scheme-faqs.htm

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  • 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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The Tax Office today reminded Australia’s 11.8 million taxpayers to start getting ready to lodge their tax returns.                                                                                                

Tax Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo said the Tax Office has a range of information and assistance available to help people meet the 31 October 2009 deadline.

“From 1 July, people can prepare and lodge their return online using e-tax, which is free, secure and easy to use software which in most cases processes your return within 14 days.

“As well as calculators, help screens and links to rulings, you can also download information from third parties directly into your tax return, including payment summaries, government payments such as pensions and allowances, bank interest and private health insurance details.

E-tax can be accessed free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week from our website at www.ato.gov.au,” Mr D’Ascenzo said.

Government and third party information will be available to download progressively from 1 July. You can subscribe to an alert service within e-tax which will let you know when the information becomes available.                                                                                                                                                                                         ato

People can still lodge using TaxPack 2009 or the short tax return for individuals 2009.

TaxPack 2009 is available from most newsagents, Tax Office shopfronts or the Tax Office website from 1 July.

If you used the short tax return last year you’ll receive a copy in the mail shortly.

Mr D’Ascenzo also reminded people to contact their tax agent as soon as possible.

“If you’re using a tax agent for the first time or using a different one from last year you need to contact them by 31 October 2009,” he said.

“Only registered tax agents can charge a fee to prepare and lodge a tax return.

“However some people present themselves as tax agents when they are not.

“Registered tax agents are regulated by the Tax Agents’ Board and have the qualifications and experience to handle your tax affairs.”

Visit the Tax Agents’ Board website http://www.tabd.gov.au or call 1300 362 829 to check if your agent is registered.

Compliance focus

We cross-check tax returns against a wide range of data including financial institution data, state and territory revenue and property sales information and Australian stock exchange data.

Help and assistance

If people have questions or need assistance they should visit the Tax Office website www.ato.gov.au or phone the Tax Office on 13 28 61 between 8.00am and 6.00pm weekdays.

The Tax Office can provide you a more personalised service if you provide your tax file number when you call.

source  :  www.ato.gov.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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