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Super, mortgage, small business benefits: How to get more money from your tax refund in 2016

Jun 22, 2016

THEY say there are only two certainties in life — deaths and taxes.

But when it comes to tax time, some things may be less certain and you can’t always bank on a refund.

And while that may be the case, it doesn’t mean the tax man gets to pocket it all because there’s plenty of ways to beat him at his own game.

Senior lecturer in financial planning and superannuation at Deakin University Adrian Raftery said people could easily increase their refunds if they knew how to go about it.

Dr Raftery said doing your taxes wasn’t just about keeping receipts and a log book, but knowing what was claimable in the first place could really help people maximise their refunds.

While people aren’t able to claim their rent or entire mobile phone costs for example, Dr Raftery said there were plenty of other ways to legitimately claim expenses.

Here are just a few of the ways you can increase the amount of cash in your pocket come tax time.

SUPERANNUATION

Dr Raftery said this was something many people didn’t think about, yet it could save potentially save them a stack of cash come tax time.

He said people may not even known about the government’s free money service known as the super co-contribution.

“It is surprising how few people actually take advantage of some free money from the government,” he said.

“If your income is under $35,454 and you contribute $1000 post tax into super the government will match it 50 cents in the dollar.”

He said while the incentive gradually phases out for those earning more than $50,454 it was still free money.

“Also, if you earn less than $10,800 then your spouse can put up to $3000 into your super fund and they will receive an 18 per cent rebate ($540) on tax via the spouse super contribution rebate,” he said.

You can actually get some money back by paying into your partner’s super fund.

You can actually get some money back by paying into your partner’s super fund.Source:Supplied

PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE

Dr Raftery said prepaying this could be a massive saver and would end up saving you more than you think.

This is especially the case for high income earners.

“A 27.82 per cent rebate on private health insurance premiums gradually phases out for those who earn over $90,000 (single) or $180,000 (couple),” he said.

“If you are currently under these thresholds but think you will earn above these levels in 2016/17 you can still get the rebate in full if you prepay 12 months of premiums before July 1.”

CAPITAL GAINS

This little benefit isn’t just for those who own homes.

In fact you can do it against most investments like the share market, Dr Raftery said.

Dr Raftery said people could minimise capital gains tax (CGT) by deferring the sale of or offsetting losses against gains already made.

“The share market has had a roller coaster year in 2015/16,” he said.

“If you made a nice capital gain or two earlier in the year then you can reduce CGT by selling any non-performing shares that you may be currently holding.”

Dr Raftery said any unrealised gains should be sold after July 1 to defer tax for another year.

However, he said if you held the shares for more than 12 months you could reduce CGT by half.

Small business owners can get some extra help for new purchases under $20,000

Small business owners can get some extra help for new purchases under $20,000Source:istock

SMALL BUSINESS IMMEDIATE WRITE-OFF

While this may not apply to everyone it was a great way for anyone with a small business to get some extra cash in their pocket.

Dr Raftery said this deduction applied to those who buy a business asset for under $20,000 and claim it as a tax deduction this year.

“There have been some great tax concessions over the past few years for small businesses (up to

$2 million turnover) with none greater than the immediate write-off available for the purchase of new business assets that cost less than $20,000,” he said.

The big advantage was there is no limit to the amount of assets people can purchase under this concession. However like all good things there is a catch.

Dr Raftery said people should be aware that you only getting a percentage back and your

cashflow will suffer.

“If your business is registered for GST, then you can buy a business asset for less than $22,000, claim the 10 per cent GST credit and get an immediate write-off for the balance in this year’s

tax,” he said.

HOME OFFICE BOOST

The good news is that you can buy a new PC and printer for your home office and claim the business proportion as an immediate write-off.

Dr Raftery said a big money saver for people was being able to claim a deduction for the costs they incur in running a home-office.

“More and more people these days are doing work at home but not many are aware that they can claim a deduction for costs you incur in running your home office, even if a room is not set aside solely for work-related purposes,” he said.

“Deductions are available for the work-related portion of home telephone, internet, stationery, computer equipment and printers.”

Dr Raftery said people should keep a diary of the times they do work from home so they can also claim a 45 cent per hour deduction for electricity and gas.

The added bonus is you can also claim a depreciation of home-based furniture as well.

Thinking of upgrading your PC or laptop? Wait until after July 1.

Thinking of upgrading your PC or laptop? Wait until after July 1.Source:AFP

HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE

According to Dr Raftery, those who do work from home are better off buying new hardware at the beginning rather than the end of the year in order to maximise the depreciation claimed.

However a big thing to claim before July 1 was things such as software, virus protection and even printer cartridges.

So Dr Raftery’s advice is to spend up now in this area.

HOUSING INVESTMENT

Those of us lucky enough to have a house to rent out and claim tax benefits can pocket a bit of cash by claiming things such as mortgage fees, travel to inspections, agency fees as well as loan application fees.

Dr Raftery said while you could claim travel to inspect a house, personal travel which included tacking a holiday onto things wouldn’t go down as well with the tax man.

“You can claim travel like driving to inspect your house,” he said.

“But if your house is on the Gold Coast and you live in Sydney and are thinking you might want to take a holiday then that’s fine but don’t think the tax man will deduct the whole trip.”

You might be able to claim some tax deductions for car use, but keep a log book.

You might be able to claim some tax deductions for car use, but keep a log book.Source:Supplied

PAY IT FORWARD

Bringing expenses forward is a great way to increase the extra cash in your pocket especially if your income is expected to drop next year.

Dr Raftery said by bringing some 2016/17 expenses forward into this year you could also bring forward deductions as well.

“If you are expecting that you will have a lower income next year — due to factors such as maternity leave, redundancy, a smaller bonus or perhaps cutbacks to overtime — then why not try to bring forward your deductions into this tax year?” he said.

“Stocking up your home office with stationery, laptops and printers or prepaying subscriptions and interest for up to 12 months in advance are just some of the simple ways to reduce your income before June 30.”

Original article publish here in News.com.au on 22 June 2016

Comments

"Thanks for all your tax advice for us having to pay tax is a good thing . But we all ways like to pay less so all is a Big help . thanks Bill "

By: Bill Hort on Jun 25, 2016 11:52AM

"My pleasure Bill."

By: Mr Taxman on Jul 10, 2016 9:40AM

"Can you claim a tax deduction for your super fund fees when you have an employee based super? "

By: Jenny on Jul 10, 2016 8:12PM

"Unfortunately not. These would be claimed within your super fund though which is taxed at 15% on any net income derived."

By: Mr Taxman on Jul 11, 2016 2:49AM

"My husband has just began a new business during the past year but didnt earn enough to pay tax. So there is no need to claim deductions for his business. However, Is there any way that i can claim his deductions, or a percentage? Such as items/tools for the business or business startup - as i invested part of my money in this? "

By: Dan on Sep 12, 2016 9:07AM

"Unfortunately not Dan. Your outlays are effectively treated as a loan to the business."

By: Mr Taxman on Apr 17, 2017 2:51AM

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