Jul 01, 2020

Dr Adrian Raftery, principal of Mr Taxman and author of 101 Ways to Save Money on Your Tax - Legally! 2020-2021 edition (Wiley, May 2020, AU$25.95) shares with us excellent tips for you to action and maximise your tax refund next year.


The new financial year is here which comes with it the annual obligation to submit our income tax return by 31 October. Like most, you are probably in a mad panic trying to find/scrape your receipts together in a futile attempt to boost your refund (or worse reduce your payable) with some last-minute claims. For others, 1 July brings around a new sense of hope with a whole year to get our tax planning right in 2020/21.


It always surprises me when people think that tax planning only occurs in June. If you want to save as much as legitimately possible on your largest expense (tax), it is best to start as early as possible. Tax planning should be a 365-day per year exercise, not one merely carried out in the last few days before 30 June.


Here are seven strategies are more applicable for action at the start of the year (1 July) than at the end of the year (30 June).


1. Put $20 per week into super

I must admit that for years I was surprised how few people took advantage of getting some free money from the Government in the form of the Superannuation Co-Contribution.  This is available for those who earn under $39,837 and contribute $1,000 post-tax into super with the government matching it with an extra $500. But then I realised that someone who is a low-income earner would really find it tough to miraculously pluck $1,000 on the last day of June and whack into super.  In reality, they would probably have other, more-pressing priorities on where to best utilise the lump sum. That is where the start of the financial year is the best time to start this super co-contribution strategy. It is a lot more manageable if you start taking $20 from your weekly pay and putting into super, rather than trying to find $1,000 at the end of the year.


2. Build your nest egg quicker by salary sacrificing

In a similar vein, those who earn more than $37,000, salary sacrificing into superannuation is one of the best, and legitimate, ways to minimise your income tax bill. Although the super rules have changed from 1 July, you can contribute up to $25,000 per year into super which is only taxed at 15 per cent instead of your marginal tax rate (potentially 47 per cent).  Like the super co-contribution, very few maximised this strategy each year as it was often too late in June to top up compulsory super contributions to the threshold. If you can put an extra $1,000,000 over a lifetime into retirement savings then you are potentially saving $320,000 in tax (plus returns on top). Could that $320,000 mean you could retire a few years earlier or perhaps enjoy a more comfortable retirement? I’m sure it would so start putting extra super away in your pay packet when 1 July arrives.


3. Do a logbook

Work-related car travel is generally the biggest tax deduction (in the thousands) for individuals yet so many fail to maximise it.  If you use your car for work-related purposes, the logbook method is best but again this is something that you can’t just wave a magic wand with and do on 30 June — it takes 12 weeks of diligence in keeping accurate logbook records. I know from personal experience that logbooks are annoying creatures to complete but it's just a minute in the morning, a minute in the evening, maybe 120 minutes over the year for potentially an extra $5,000 in tax savings.  It's important to keep your receipts for all costs associated with the running of your car (such as petrol, insurance, registration, servicing and lease payments), not just the logbook period. If you change your job role, get a new car or your last logbook is more than five years old, then you need to start a new one. 

4. Keep your receipts with myDeductions

Poor record-keeping is oft associated with low refunds. Tax agents cannot wave a magic wand if you don’t do the basics and keep your receipts throughout the year for your work or business-related expenses. The ATO’s rule in most circumstances is that no receipt results in no deduction so if you take work-related car travel as an example you could be costing yourself $$$ by not keeping those petrol dockets! Get into a habit early in the year.  The ATO have a great app called myDeductions which is an easy way to diligently record your receipts for year end by simply taking a pic with your mobile device at the time that you incur the expense.



5. Buying tax-deductible assets

Unless you are a small business (and can immediately write off the purchase of new business assets that cost less than $150,000), it is pointless buying a tax-deductible asset that cost more than $300 at the end of the financial year.  This is because depreciation of these assets is pro-rated for the number of days that you own them during the financial year (resulting in a $1,000 outlay on 29 June producing a measly $1 deduction at tax time).  If you are going to get that new computer or car used for work-purposes, it is better buying in July as depreciation have much more impact when spread over a whole year rather than just a few days.


6. Negative gear upfront

One of the major downsides to negative gearing is cash flow. My preference is that you wait until the end of the year to get your refund as it is a ‘forced form of saving’. But if your tenants aren’t paying during COVID-19 then your cash flow is probably tight, you may want to complete a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) withholding variation application, which reduces the tax from your monthly pay. The form is virtually a mini tax return which estimates your taxable income. You still need to lodge an annual tax return. Conversely, for those who don’t have a property, if you struggle to save, a great ‘forced form of saving’ is to ask your employer to take out extra tax in each pay packet. 


7. Get a great accountant

Just as most people can change a tyre, most of us can do our tax ourselves but it usually pays to get an expert to look at your tax for you. The last thing you need is a knock on the door from the taxman because you claimed too much. A registered tax agent knows where the boundaries are in terms of what you can and more importantly can’t claim. You can generally delay the lodgment of your return to May next year and their fee is tax deductible too! Maximise your accountant’s knowledge by communicating with them often about your affairs.  Aside from pre-year end tax planning, contact them before any major transaction that you are about to undertake as a simple phone call may produce a simple strategy – such as setting up a company - which could save you hundreds of thousands over a lifetime.  It is far easier structuring a transaction before the event occurs than months after!


You now have a whole new year to implement some great tax tips, it’s time to act. Times are tough during this global COVID-19 pandemic so every dollar saved counts. Start your tax planning today!


This information is of a general nature only and does not constitute professional advice. You must seek professional advice in relation to your particular circumstances before acting.


These tips were provided by Mr Taxman, Adrian Raftery, author of 101 Ways to Save Money on Your Tax - Legally! 2020-2021 edition (Wiley, May 2020, AU$25.95). @mistertaxman

 101 Ways to Save Money on Your Tax - Legally!



101 Ways to Save Money on Your Tax – Legally! 2020-2021 edition

By Adrian Raftery

Published by Wiley May 2020

ISBN 9780730384625

AU$25.95 / NZ$28.99


For further information or to request an interview, please contact: Adrian Raftery on 1800 TAXMAN (1800 829 626) or 0418 210 599



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comments-rhsLatest Comments

  • "Assuming the app calculates the profit currently then you can use that figure in the Business Income item of your individual tax return - ideally the ATO would like a gross up of the turnover/sales..."

    By: Mr Taxman at Oct 17, 2020 2:10AM

    Post: Foreign currency trading

  • "Good evening Mr Taxman, I just would like to ask about my forex currency trading(I use MT4 app) Each time I close a trade it shows me a loss or profit and it includes the costs. At the end of..."

    By: Aggi at Oct 06, 2020 11:19AM

    Post: Foreign currency trading

  • "I think the Tax Commissioner would unfortunately consider it to be a personal expense Anne - like the purchase of a house would be."

    By: Mr Taxman at Sep 19, 2020 12:35AM

    Post: Claiming car expenses

  • "You can claim the 68 cents per kilometre method but that effectively covers all running costs of your vehicle. If you wanted to claim a % of running costs you will need to keep a 12 week logbook. "

    By: Mr Taxman at Sep 19, 2020 12:32AM

    Post: Claiming car expenses

  • "Its ok to choose from November 2019 for the start of your logbook Liezl. You can essentially chose any 12 week period during the year so long as its representative of your travel throughout the..."

    By: Mr Taxman at Sep 19, 2020 12:29AM

    Post: Claiming car expenses