It’s that time of year again. The financial year is about to wind-up, and that means one thing – it’s time to get your finances in order. Tax time can be stressful, with lots of document sorting and collating to be done. Plus, some of us will be banking on a fat tax return to go on holiday, or make a big purchase.
We all need a bit of expert help at this time of year, so here’s our guide to completing your 2017 tax return with a minimum of stress.
Tips and Tricks on How to Do Your Taxes in 2017
Be Scrupulous with Work Expenses
If you want to get the most out of your 2017 tax return, you need to think about each and every dollar that you spend during your income-earning activities. Basically, any expense that you incur for work purposes, from purchasing tools to protective clothing, uniform expenses and travel between workplaces which can all be claimed as a deduction.
To make the most of these expenses, you need to dig up all the records that you can, including receipts for specific expenses, diaries relating to motor vehicle travel, and records of home office hours worked at home. Remember you don’t need receipts for every type of expense. You should also keep a diary or logbook for some of your expenses (particularly things like vehicle expenses). It might be too late for your 2017 tax return, but it’s something you can do for next year.
Tax is an incredibly complex topic. Changes are made to laws and regulations all the time, and new deductions are always popping up. It’s almost impossible for a layperson to understand everything they are entitled to claim in order to maximise their refund. You really need the help of an experienced tax agent to do that. You’ll also be pleased to know that the cost of using a tax agent counts as a deduction on next year’s tax return.
Making donations to registered charities is a great way to give back to the community and increase your tax return. All donations over $2 to an eligible and approved charity can be claimed as a tax deduction in the year the donation was made. So, if you think your money would be better off in the hands of a worthy charity than donate before 30 June.
Do You do any Work at Home?
Whether you’re an at-home entrepreneur or a professional that uses the kitchen table to fire off a few emails every day, you need to be aware that the cost of working at home is tax deductible. The main approach allowed by the ATO for people undertaking some work at home is to allow a $0.45 per hour claim which caters for the cost of a desk, chair, light and heating. For those who actually run a business from home on a full time basis you may be eligible to claim a percentage of the costs to maintain your house. You need to have evidence that allows you to estimate expenses incurred in working from home. For example, utility costs, rent, office equipment and stationary all count as deductions and, if you’ve got evidence, it can quickly add up.
The Free $300
So many people forget that if their total deductions don’t add up to more than $300 they don’t have to provide evidence. This can be pretty handy if you’re struggling to think of any deductions.
Don’t Try to Cheat the ATO
Claiming deductions that you aren’t entitled to or being careless when filling out your return will cost you. The ATO has very sophisticated software at their disposal that allows them to match your return against data from financial institutions and other bodies.
You Don’t Have to Wait Until October 31
31 October 2017 is when your 2017 tax return is due, but you can lodge your return as soon as you receive your group certificate. And why would you wait? Imagine all the things you could do with your tax refund. After all, the money is far more useful in your pocket.
Follow this advice and your 2017 tax return will be a far less stressful. Plus, there’s every chance you’ll end up with a few more dollars in your pocket than last year.
For a tax return process that is as quick and easy as possible, contact Online Tax Australia today.