7 tips to make the most of tax time

With a little bit of ground work and the right information, you can take the pain out of tax time and end up with more money in the bank.

1. Keep records

We hear the same advice every year: keep your receipts. If you’re audited down the track, and you don’t have the paperwork to back up your tax claims, you could be in for a hefty bill.

As well as keeping your receipts, you’ll also need evidence of things like interest and dividend payments, rental income and donations. If you’re claiming vehicle expenses you need a car log book, and a log book for business related phone calls too.

2. Know what expenses you can claim

Nothing makes tax time more fun than working out all the expenses you can claim. Whether you get an accountant to do your tax return, or you do it yourself, understanding the tax deductions you’re eligible for ahead of time makes the paperwork easier. You might also be able to make some additional purchases before end of financial year that you didn’t know you were tax deductible.

It can get complicated, but you may be able to claim any expense you incurred to earn your income, for example:

  • vehicle and travel expenses (outside of the normal travel between home and work)
  • self-education
  • work uniforms and protective gear (including sunglasses if you work outside)
  • professional association fees.

You can also claim:

  • donations to charity
  • income protection insurance
  • the cost of doing your taxes including an accountant fee.
  • It pays to get the right advice and check ATO income and deductions.

3. Use a checklist

Reduce your stress and save time by using a checklist to make sure you’ve got all the information you need to get your tax return done. You can use the ATO checklist, or make one yourself. As a starting point, you’ll need:

  • your tax file number (TFN)
  • your PAYG summary
  • details of interest payments from your bank statements
  • your private health insurance summary
  • details of work related expenses and any other deductibles you will be claiming.

4. Get help

There will always be a bit of work involved in pulling together all the information you need to complete your tax return, especially if you have complex tax needs. But if you’re short on time, feeling confused, or just want to make sure you get the maximum refund, you should get help. A qualified accountant will make sure your tax return is completed accurately, and the fees are tax deductible!

5. Contribute to superannuation

Making extra contributions to your super isn’t just good for your future, it’s also one of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of tax you pay. And depending on your personal circumstances, there could be additional benefits. There are limits to how much you can contribute, so it’s best to get advice from an accountant or check the ATO for more details.

6. Donate to charity

Making extra donations to charity before the end of the financial year will not only make you feel good, it’s also tax deductible, which means a smaller tax bill or a bigger return.

7. Watch out for scams

Tax time is ripe with opportunity for scammers. Be on the lookout for fake emails claiming to be from the ATO offering bonus returns or free tax advice. Never open links or download documents from suspicious emails. Be wary of any phone contact, a common scam preys on people’s emotions by claiming they have committed tax fraud and demanding bank account details.

Anyone who is legitimately phoning you from the ATO will be able to provide you with a number you can call to confirm that you are actually dealing with the tax office. If you receive a suspicious email or phone call, contact the ATO directly on 13 28 65 or check Scamwatch.

Preparing for the year ahead

While you’re working on making things less painful for this end of financial year, there are also a few things you can do to make next year even easier. Try:

  • setting up an online filing system for your receipts, invoices and records
  • get financial advice on your tax strategy for the year ahead
  • plan big purchases
  • set up direct debits for charitable donations
  • set up regular superannuation contributions.

QBANK is here to help

If you’d like help to make the most of tax time, talk to QBANK. Call 13 77 28.

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