The end of the financial year has gone and tax time is here. For some people this is an exciting time, for others it can be very stressful. It is time to gather all of your bank statements, income information and receipts and start thinking about how you are going to lodge your tax return. Over 70% of Australians choose to lodge their tax through a registered agent or accountant, the other 30% prefer to lodge their tax return online, themselves. Wondering what you should do? We have a few tips to lodging your tax return that will help make your mind up and take the stress out of tax time.
- What is the Tax Return Deadline?
If you choose to lodge your own tax return you must have it completed and sent to the ATO before 31st October. If you choose to go through an agent you can lodge your tax after this date, however make sure you check first with your accountant as to what the deadline is, you don’t want to be penalised by the Government for lodging your tax return too late!
- Using An Accountant
Tax can be a very complex thing for most people to understand and for that reason choose to employ the services of an accountant. Most people will choose to claim the same deductions each and every year; while this is ok, an accountant will be able to tell you any additional items you can claim and how to go about doing so. An accountant is great at spotting opportunities where you can maximise on your tax return. They also offer a very fast and accurate service so you know your tax will be lodged in a timely manner and as thoroughly as possible. Don’t want to pay accountant fees? Don’t stress, your accountant fees are also tax deductible!
- Do Not Over Claim
The ATO are starting to crackdown on tax lodgers who are over claiming.Technology is improving rapidly, allowing the ATO to thoroughly check all claimed deductions. A qualified accountant will be able to tell you all of the items you can honestly claim for. If you are caught by the ATO over claiming for items that should not have been part of your lodgement you will be penalised.
- Claiming Work Expenses?
You are legally entitled to claim up to $300 worth of work expenses however you are required to keep all documentary evidence for up to 5 years after the 31st October closing lodgement date. You may be required to produce these records to the ATO at any time within the 5 year period. You need to make sure all documentation states the date of purchase, item purchased, date the document was prepared and the name of the place/supplier you bought the product from.
- Regularly donate to charities?
You can claim any tax deduction for donations over $2, however you need to make sure that your charity of choice that you are claiming for is a Deductible Gift Recipient. This means that you can not be getting anything in return for your donation, this includes but is not limited to gala dinners or raffle events. Not sure if your chosen charity is a Deductible Gift Recipient? You can get in contact with the charity or check on the charity's website to double check.
- Need To Make An Amendment?
If you have already lodged your tax return and have since realised you need to make an amendment you still can. If you have chosen to lodge your tax through an accountant you can contact the the accountant who will make the change on your behalf, however if you have lodged your return online you will need to make the change through the Government website. If the change affects your tax return you may receive a refund from the ATO or you may have to pay the outstanding amount if the change increases the amount of tax owed. It is also important to note that you may be liable to pay a penalty and interest, however this would be advised either by your accountant or the ATO. Check and double check! Before you lodge anything to the ATO or through your accountant make sure you double check all information, this includes your personal details such as name and address.
Tax time need not be stressful or scary if you keep in mind the below points:
- * Tax lodgement end date is 31st October 2016
- * Use an accountant
- * Don’t claim for deductions you are not eligible for
- * Keep all documentation for any work expenses claimed for 5 years
- * You can claim on charity donations over $2
- * Amendments are allowed by the ATO however you may be penalised
Hopefully you have learnt a few tips and tricks to make tax time that little bit easier. If in doubt, speak to a registered accountant as they will be able to give you the best advice on how to move on with your claim and what information you will need.What other advice do you have to keep tax time hassle free and easy?