We have handy checklists available on our Downloads page, containing comprehensive lists of items to bring.

You may be able to get duplicate receipts from some suppliers, particularly if you have an account with them. Otherwise, if you have paid for the expense using a credit or debit card, we can pick up the expense from your bank statements.

The ATO allows you to claim up to $300 in work-related expenses without having receipts, but you must be able to justify your claim if called upon, which could be difficult without receipts.

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If you are lodging the return yourself it needs to be received by the ATO before 31 October of the same year as the year you are lodging eg your 2014 tax return (for the year 2013-14) will be due on 31 October 2014.

If you go onto the lodgment program of a Registered Tax Agent before the 31 October deadline, however, you will generally get an automatic extension to lodge your return as late as May the following year without penalty if the Tax Agent has a good lodgement record (which we do).

You will also probably find that a tax agent will find you a few extra deductions and their fee is tax deductible.

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The ATO can fine all taxpayers who lodge late, although they generally only penalise those that have a tax bill instead of a refund.

Once you have lodged a late return, the ATO charges interest on the amount you still owe, and backdates it to the original due date. There is thus no advantage to holding off on lodging late returns – the longer you wait, the more interest you will be charged.

There are leniency provisions and payment arrangements available for taxpayers who are incapable of meeting their obligations, or who have a reason for lodging late that the ATO finds acceptable based on the facts.

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Having an ABN makes it easier to deal with businesses and government bodies. It can help you to claim a range of credits, prevent businesses deducting PAYG withholding tax from payments to you and allow other businesses to confirm your details for invoicing purposes. To qualify for an ABN you must be carrying on an enterprise.

If your business has a turnover of $75,000 or more per year, then you must register for GST and you will need an ABN to do so.

If your turnover is below this, it is up you whether you register or not. Things to bear in mind when deciding whether to register or not include whether you expect to pay more in GST than you can claim back, whether your turnover is likely to increase in future and the costs of preparing BAS if you register for GST.

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A standard tax return with some deductions is $70 plus GST. Business and more complicated tax returns are based on an hourly rate, currently $60 per hour plus GST.

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Since Jan 1 2011 many working parents have been able to access the Federal Government's Paid Parental Leave scheme, in which up to 18 weeks' paid leave at the National Minimum Wage rate ($622.10 a week before tax as of 1 July 2013) is provided to all eligible working parents of children born or adopted after 1 January 2011. The leave entitlement is paid either via your employer or the Department of Human Services, and may be taken by either parent any time within the first year after birth or adoption. See the Department of Human Services Paid Parental Leave webpage for information on eligibility.

The Parental Leave payments are taxable income, though. If you receive the full entitlement of $11,197.80 and you have no other income or any deductions or offsets to claim then you may not need to lodge a tax return and will pay no tax on your Paid Parental Leave income. If you have other items to claim on your return, or you received Paid Parental Leave before 1 July 2012 then you may still need to lodge a return and you may pay tax on your Paid Parental Leave, depending upon your individual circumstances.

If you are not eligible for the Paid Parental Leave scheme, or elect not to take it, then you may be eligible to receive the Baby Bonus instead as long as your combined taxable incomes were less than $75,000 in the 6 months before birth or adoption, and you were eligible to claim Family Tax Benefit for the child in the 6 months after birth or adoption. The Baby Bonus is paid in 13 fortnightly instalments, is not taxable income and is paid in the following amounts: if your child was born or adopted before 1 July 2012 then it is $5,000, if your child was born or adopted on or after 1 July 2012 then it is $5,000 for your first child and $3,000 for each subsequent child.

Finally, depending on your combined taxable incomes while one parent is on parental leave, you may also be eligible for Family Tax Benefit part A and B. These payments used to be claimable as a lump sum via your tax return, but since 1 July 2009 all FTB claims are now processed by the Department of Human Services.
More information on family payments.

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Some years ago, the ATO introduced special rules for the income of children, to close a loophole that was allowing high income earners to divert some of their income to their children and pay less tax. Now, the ATO considers that some income received by children should actually be declared by their parents in their tax return.

If the parent provided the money in the child’s account, and that money was used or spent by the parent (even on things for the child, such as school expenses), then the interest earned on that money must be declared by the parent in their tax return. If, instead, the money in the child’s account is made up of cash birthday gifts, pocket money, part-time earnings, etc and isn’t used by anyone but the child then the interest earned is the child’s income.

Importantly, since 1 July 2011 minors have not been able to access the Low Income Tax Offset for unearned income, such as distributions from family trusts, interest earned, rent, royalties and other income from property. This means that they cannot use the Offset to reduce their tax payable on such income and will also have to lodge a tax return if they receive more than $416 in unearned income. Additionally, if the child earns $420 or more in interest for the year they will have to quote their TFN and date of birth to the bank to avoid paying 46.5% PAYG tax (although they would be able to claim back this tax paid when they lodge their tax return). When it comes to earned income, ie wages, children may access the Low Income Tax Offset for income that they have earned and are taxed at the same rate as all other taxpayers on this income.

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The Education Tax Refund (ETR) was discontinued from 1 July 2012 and was replaced by the Schoolkids Bonus. From 2012-13 onwards, families who have school-aged children and are eligible to receive Family Tax Benefit A (FTB A) will receive direct payments of $410 pa per primary school child and $820 pa per high school child. These payments will be received half in January and the other half in July so they are available for use at the beginning of semester. You do not need to keep receipts for the Schoolkids Bonus.

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Cash gifts or inheritances are not taxed in the hands of the recipient. If you use that cash to invest, then you would be taxed on any earnings (such as interest) you got from it, but if you are putting it to your mortgage then there is no tax to pay.

If your grandmother is a Centrelink pensioner, however, then there may have to be an adjustment made. Pensioners can only gift up to $10,000 per year, up to $30,000 over 5 years. If they give more than this, the excess is added back as "deprived assets" for the assets test upon which their pension is calculated. In this case, the $7,000 of the $17,000 gift your grandmother gives you will count towards her assets and could reduce her pension if the value of her existing assets is near or above the assets test threshold.

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Capital Gains Tax normally applies when an asset changes ownership, but there are special rules for inheritance.

If the house was always your uncle’s main residence then you may be exempt from CGT if it is sold within 2 years of the date of death. If it wasn’t always his main residence (eg it was an investment property of his), then if the deceased person acquired their asset on or after 20 September 1985, the first element of your cost base and reduced cost base is taken to be the deceased person’s cost base and reduced cost base of the asset on the day the person died.

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60 years of age and over = maximum of $35,000

Under 60 years of age = maximum of $25,000

From 1 July 2014 the cap for taxpayers 50 years and older will be $35,000 per year. From 1 July 2018 the cap will be $35,000 per year for all taxpayers.

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Claiming business lunches was enormously popular with taxpayers. So much so that many are dismayed to be told that you can no longer claim all such expenses. In fact, this has been so for many years now – the tax legislation was changed during the Keating/Hawke era to restrict the deductibility of travel and entertainment expenses.

The ATO considers that, even if you discuss business matters over lunch, the lunch is not an expense that you must incur in order to do your job or run your business. Furthermore, if you regularly pay for your lunches and are reimbursed by your employer, your employer may have provided you with a fringe benefit, in which case Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) would have to be paid if none of the FBT exemptions apply.

If, however, you must travel for work and your travel includes a least one night spent away from home, then your meal costs while you are away are necessary in order to do your job or run your business. In this case, you may be entitled to a deduction.

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If you use your home or car to carry out business/work as a convenience rather than because it is a job requirement, you cannot claim the expenses as a deduction. The expenses claimed must be an expected part of your role and "necessarily incurred". Home office expenses are separated by the ATO into “running expenses” and “occupancy expenses”. Running expenses are expenses to run your home office, such as telephone, electricity, computer & office equipment, cleaning and depreciation. If your use of these items is part personal, part business then you must apportion your claim based on how much you use them for business. Methods for working out this claim include keeping a diary for 4 weeks to work out what percentage of your use is business, going through itemised bills and totalling business usage, calculating based on floor space the office occupies, or using a fixed rate provided by the ATO.

Occupancy expenses, such as rent, rates, house repairs, mortgage interest and insurance, are expenses you pay to occupy the home office. To be eligible to claim occupancy expenses the home office must be a clearly identified place of business used exclusively for business and must not be used for any domestic purposes (eg no blankets stored in cupboards, no spare beds, no occasional bed in the corner. Room must be lockable). The proportion of these expenses to claim is most often calculated using the floor area the home office occupies.

Important: If you own your home, then any part of your home that is used as a home office for income-producing activities eligible to claim occupancy expenses may be subject to Capital Gains Tax when you sell. Whether you claim the expense or not, that part of the home that is used exclusively for work/business will be subject to Capital Gains Tax on sale. If the area is not 100% work/business, no claim is possible but then neither is it taxed on sale.

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Car expenses can be claimed if you use the car to run errands for the business, visit clients, or travel from one work site to the next.

If you use your car to travel between work and home you cannot claim expenses, even if you’re collecting mail for work on the way, working after hours, or there are no other ways to get to work. The only exceptions are where you are carrying bulky or heavy items for work that cannot be left at work, or if your home is your base of employment.

Claimable motor vehicle expenses include fuel, registration, insurance, interest on car loans, lease payments, repairs, breakdown service membership, accessories if they are for work/business purposes and depreciation.

How you claim the vehicle depends on the car and how you use it. If you are eligible to use more than one method, the ATO allows you to choose the one that gives you the biggest deduction. You may only use one method per vehicle per year, however.

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A negatively geared investment occurs when your expenses (such as interest, rates, repairs and rental agency commission) are greater than the rent received. The difference is a tax deduction that can be used to offset your taxable income from other sources. While this seems like a good idea, in order to negatively gear an investment property you must put in more money than you receive in income. However, with depreciation on fittings, furniture and building costs many rental properties that are otherwise positively geared become negatively geared “on paper”, thus theoretically achieving the best of both worlds – a positive cash flow plus a tax deduction.

In reality, planning your investment property expenses to achieve this positive cash flow + tax deduction combination must be very finely tuned, particularly if your depreciation claim is small.

Our general approach is that, while we will do everything we can to minimise your tax payable, we would rather you have to pay tax because you are making money, than risk a small saving in tax costing you large amounts of money.

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In 2012-13 tax returns, the threshold for claiming medical expenses is $2,120. This means you can’t claim the first $2,120 of your out-of-pocket medical expenses. If you exceed the threshold, the size of your claim is 20% of your excess expenses over $2,120. You may include the medical expenses of your spouse and children towards your threshold, but they cannot then claim the same medical expenses in their returns.

For example: If you have $1,700 in net medical expenses and your wife has $800, then you could claim 20% of ($1,700 + $800 - $2,120), or $76 in your return. Your wife would not have any medical expenses to claim in her return.

Only that portion that you paid for out of your own pocket can contribute to the threshold: if you received a rebate from Medicare or from your health insurer you cannot include that rebated amount.

Not all medical expenses are eligible for the Net Medical Expenses Offset, see ATO's webpage on Net Medical Expenses 2013 for a list. Notably, medical expenses that are commonly incorrectly claimed include complementary therapies not provided on referral from a doctor (eg chiropractic services, acupuncture, massage), vitamin supplements and overseas inoculations.

In the 2013-14 Budget, the Federal Government announced that it would begin phasing out the Net Medical Expenses Offset from 1 July 2013. Transitional arrangements will allow taxpayers who have medical costs from disability aids, attendant care or aged care expenses to continue claiming the Medical Expenses Offset until 1 July 2019. For all other expenses, only those taxpayers who claimed the Medical Expenses Offset in 2012-13 will eligible to claim in 2013-14, and again in 2014-15 you will only be able to claim medical expenses if you claimed in 2013-14. After 1 July 2019 no one will be able to claim an offset for medical expenses in their tax return.

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Only for some taxpayers. In 2013-14 if you are single and earn over $88,000, or if you are a family that earns over $176,000 then you may have to pay the Medicare Levy Surcharge. This is a tax on your income between 1% and 1.5% that is paid in addition to the 1.5% Medicare Levy that most taxpayers have to pay.

You can avoid paying the Medicare Levy Surcharge (but not the basic 1.5% Levy) if you have private health insurance for hospital or combined hospital and extras cover, but not if you have extras cover only.

Additionally, the private health insurance rebate and the Medicare Levy Surcharge are both means-tested.

As your single income over $88,000 or family income over $176,000 increases, the amount of rebate you receive on your private health insurance premiums will start to reduce from 20% until you no longer receive the rebate if you are single earning more than $136,000 or $272,000 for families. The full 30% rebate is now only available to singles earning $88,000 or less, or families earning $176,000 or less.

Similarly, for singles earning more than $88,000 or families earning more than $176,000 the Medicare Levy Surcharge amount will increase from 1% to a maximum of 1.5% for incomes over $136,000 (singles) or $272,000 (families).

This means that you must perform your sums very carefully to work out if private health insurance is worth it for you. So long as your annual health insurance premiums (including your rebate of 0%-30%) are less than the amount of Medicare Levy Surcharge you would pay, you can save money by taking out private health insurance and avoiding the Medicare Levy Surcharge.

The extra catch is that private health insurers may have out of pocket payments that you would not normally pay if you received treatment through the public health system, for example co-payments and excess payments for staying in private hospitals.

Contact Us

Unit 3 - 12 Grebe St
Peregian Beach Qld 4573

PO Box 678
Coolum Beach Qld 4573

+61 7 5448 1218

+61 7 5448 1221