E-Lodge Tax Blog


It’s Not Too Late to Lodge a 2016 Tax Return Online

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Always running late? Stay on time this tax season!

The tax deadline to lodge your 2016 tax return is 31 October. Maybe you’ve been late lodging your tax return in the past but we’re going to help you turn over a new leaf. E-Lodge makes it easy for you since you can lodge your 2016 tax return online, right from the comfort of your own couch!

Let’s discuss a few tips that will make this process as stress-free and simple as possible.

 

Make sure you have your PAYG Summary (and other income documents).

This may seem self explanatory but is easy to overlook sometimes. According to the ATO, employers should have employee PAYG payment summaries issued by 14 July. That being said, you should have your PAYG by mid-July whether or not the withheld amount is nil.

Don’t have yours yet? We can help with that.

There are a few ways to track down your payment summary:

  • Request a copy from your employer
  • Request a letter from your employer which stated your income and amount withheld
  • Review your payslips, timesheets and bank statements

Worst case scenario? You can lodge your tax return without a PAYG. Of course, you’ll need to estimate your income and withholding details as best you can. For help, use the ATO’s tool, gross pay estimator. Read the rest of this entry »

Airport Lounge Membership Tax Deduction

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A businessman walks into a (airport lounge) bar…can he deduct that?

No, this isn’t a riddle and the answer is yes. Generally speaking, an airport lounge club membership can be claimed as a tax deduction.

 

What does the ATO have to say about this?

Funny you should ask. According to the ATO, “The primary function of Airport Lounge Clubs is to provide business facilities and prompt and efficient services relating to the travel of their members.

Now, you may be thinking the initial thought that also popped into my mind…what about the complimentary hors d’oeuvres and bottomless mimosas served to loungers? Don’t worry. It’s no huge secret and the ATO does in fact know what occurs. However, they simply state that this hospitality is ‘merely incidental to the primary function’ of the clubs’ business.  

 

Can the entire membership be deducted?

Taking a flight is not exclusive to business travelers however, it is essential to certain businesses. That being said, you can most certainly use your Qantas or Virgin memberships when you’re vacationing with friends or family too. With that in mind, you should be separating business use from personal, and only deducting the business percentage on your tax return. Read the rest of this entry »

2016 ATO Tax Update: Taxpayer Gender Identifiers

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Australian government takes steps to engage controversy among taxpayers.

When preparing your tax return, you’re more or less relaying the facts of your tax situation for that financial year. However, what happens when some of those facts end up in a grey area?

In recent years, there has been controversy among Australians about gender. Beginning with the hefty pay gaps between men and women in the workplace, a majority of taxpayers already aren’t thrilled with the government.

Well, this takes a step beyond gender equality and hits home with gender identifiers; specifically on birth certificates, toilet stalls, passports, and…you guessed it…tax returns.

 

What’s the real issue here?

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, “Individuals should be handed the power to decide their gender identity for themselves, without prior approval from doctors and psychologists…”.

This statement hit the nail on the head for those who are going through this thought process themselves or happen to know someone who is. On the flip side, for others, this belief has been chewed up and spit back out. The issue, in general, remains controversial among Australians. However, the ATO (not to mention some other government agencies) has done what they can do to make both parties happy.

 

If you can prove it, you can change it.

When it comes to your tax return, whether you’re a male or female really makes no difference to the ATO. You’re asked for your personal details in order to match what is currently on file, and has been since birth.

The ATO has more recently allowed the option to update your gender. All you need to do is provide a certified copy of one of the following documents:

  • Statement from a registered medical practitioner or a registered psychologist which specifies your preferred gender/sex
  • Valid Australian Government travel document (eg: passport) which specifies your preferred gender/sex
  • State or territory birth certificate which specifies your preferred gender/sex
  • Document from a state or territory Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages recognising a change of gender/sex

Read the rest of this entry »

ATO’s Dodgy Tax Deduction Crackdown

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If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.” –Graham Whyte

Tax agents will promise to maximise your refund if you choose to lodge your tax return with them. What you may not realize is that some will encourage you to claim too big of a refund – more than the ATO would deem you entitled to if they were aware of your actual tax situation. This definitely does not mean that they’re all out to get you. Just be wary, and don’t be too shy to ask the questions that you feel you need answers to.

Beginning this tax season, the ATO is really cracking down on certain tax deductions being claimed. If your tax return is “red flagged” by the tax office, the best that could happen is that your processing time is delayed because an ATO representative will need to review it further. The worst that could happen, in circumstances where a taxpayer has deliberately claimed an incorrect amount, is that an investigation could begin and you could be liable for multiple penalties.

 

Three Golden Rules to remember when claiming tax deductions.

Whether it’s a manual, e-book, or by word of mouth, there are a set of rules for almost everything. This even includes something that seems as simple as reporting tax deductions. When doing so, be sure to take into account these three rules of thumb:

  1. Make sure the expenses you claim have actually been incurred.
  2. Ensure that your expenses are 100% work-related.
  3. Keep the receipts to prove the claims are for valid expenses.

 

Let’s discuss some of the dodgy ones…

Read the rest of this entry »

How to Claim the Capital Works Deduction

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The ATO rewards you for making houses into homes for your renters.

Being a property owner comes with risks, but also reaps rewards. I’m not just talking holiday gift certificates and bottles of wine from your tenants. You can actually claim a tax deduction for the maintenance and care you put into your property that you work so hard on.

The Australian Tax Office offers property investors the capital works tax deduction to claim. Think of this as a reward for all the blood, sweat and tears you put into your investment. Now, let’s see how much it’s worth, how to claim it, and what it applies to.

 

What is a capital works deduction?

The capital works deduction, aka the “building allowance”, are one and the same. Whatever you’d prefer to call it, it’s applied to your tax return as a deduction, as well as a reduction of the cost basis on the property or building in question. It will offset the cost of any construction you’ve done that assists with bringing in rental income.

Updates to your property that could apply to this tax deduction include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Building expansions
  • Building alterations
  • Concrete and brickwork
  • Property items (excluding equipment and plant, meaning certain utility items)
  • Sealed driveways
  • Excavation
  • Fences
  • Retaining walls
  • Other structural improvements

Read the rest of this entry »

Backpacker’s Guide to Australian Tax

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You’re a backpacker. That puts you somewhere between a tourist and a…resident?

Actually, yes. The Australian Tax Office may consider you an Australian resident for tax purposes under certain circumstances. As a backpacker, there are some other things you should know as well that could affect your tax return. We know you’re out and about so let’s not waste time getting down to the most frequently asked questions.

 

Are you a resident for tax purposes?

This sounds like a trick question. You don’t have a permanent residence here. Your family doesn’t necessarily live here. You left your dog with your mom when you came here. However, when it comes to taxes, residency is based on what you do while you’re touring the country. As a resident, you are able to lodge a tax return and claim tax back. If you are deemed a nonresident, then you are not eligible for a refund.

Generally speaking, the ATO considers you a resident for tax purposes if ANY of the following applies:

  • You have always lived in Australia.
  • You moved to Australia and live here permanently.
  • You have been in Australia for at least six months, and for most of the time, you have been working the same job and living at the same place.
  • You have been in Australia for more than half of the financial year, unless your usual home is overseas and you do not intend to live in Australia.

Read the rest of this entry »

6 Things To Know About Your Super Fund

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Super young or super old – it’s important to know how your Super works.

Whether your Super Fund has been up and running for years or you just started learning the ropes, we’ll let you in on a few rules you should know.

 

Know that there is a Superannuation Guarantee.

Employers are typically required to contribute to your Super Fund at a rate of 9.5% of your ordinary time earnings*. It’s even been rumored that this rate will increase to 12% in upcoming years.

*Ordinary time earnings are what what employees earn for their ordinary hours of work. These include over-award payments, commissions, shift loading, and certain bonuses and allowances. Overtime is not considered part of ordinary time earnings.

 

Know that there are two types of Super contributions.

Concessional Contributions are payments made to your Super prior to your income tax being taken out. These contributions are taxed at a flat rate of 15% once they enter your Super fund and include:

  • Employer contributions
  • Salary sacrificed contributions
  • Other contributions in which you have claimed a tax deduction

Read the rest of this entry »

What are the Australian Financial Year Dates?

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Mark your calendar. The Australian Financial Year Runs from 1 July to 30 June.

The Australian financial year dates can easily be confused with the Australian tax season dates. The financial year always ends on 30 June.

It’s good to keep in mind that during the Australian tax season, you’ll report the income you earned throughout the financial year.

Still confused? Unsure of the dates? We’re here to help.

Financial Year & Tax Season Dates

Here’s what you’ll need to know…

2013-2014 Financial Year: 1 July, 2013 – 30 June, 2014

2014-2015 Financial Year: 1 July, 2014 – 30 June, 2015

2015-2016 Financial Year: 1 July, 2015 – 30 June, 2016

2016-2017 Financial Year: 1 July, 2016 – 30 June, 2017

Read the rest of this entry »

Introducing the New E-Lodge Mobile App

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Lodge your tax return from the palm of your hand this season!

We can do it all from our phones; connect with friends on social media, order lunch, apply for a new job, find a babysitter for Friday night. Endless tasks are done through mobile apps. This is why our E-Lodge team chose to create an app where you can prepare and lodge your tax return. Just because you’ve been lodging tax the same way for as long as you can remember doesn’t mean it can’t keep up with what is happening now.

Let’s take a further look into everything the new E-Lodge app has to offer.

 

Prepare and lodge your tax return.

We’ve made lodging your tax return almost as easy as checking your Twitter feed! Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but it really IS easy. You’ll still have the ability to switch between your desktop, laptop, and tablet, picking up where you left off. Now you can add our mobile app to that list. This simplifies the process for you, letting you add in expenses or income that you remember when you’re on the go, or even lodge your tax return when you only have your phone with you. Just log into the app with your regular username and password, plug in any information you need to, save and go! Easy, right?

 

Use our Tax Calculators.

We offer two of our most popular website tools on the E-Lodge app: the tax calculator and the pay calculator. These two are both super helpful – depending on where we are in the financial year, beginning or end.

Read the rest of this entry »

6 Ways To Find Your Lost Super Fund

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Want a clue as to where you can find your lost super fund?

It sounds mad; you lost your money. However, it’s more common than you’d think. In fact, in 2015, more than 17 billion dollars worth of super funds went unclaimed.  

So the question is, how is it that easy to lose so much money?

The biggest culprit in losing a superannuation fund is switching jobs. Each time you start a new job, it is more than likely that your employer starts a new super fund account in your name unless you say otherwise. But once you misplace your original super fund, there are still ways to go about finding it again. Let’s take a look.

 

#1. Check the Lost Members Register

Sure, you have a super fund. But have you not contributed recently or not heard from a provider representative in regards to your fund? You may very well be considered to be a lost member and not even know it. The thing about a super fund is that in order to remain an active member, you must do one or both of the following:

  • Confirm your address at least once within a two year time frame.
  • Indicate that you would like to remain a member of your fund.

 

If you have been inactive, unable to contact, or transferred from one super fund provider to another as a lost member, than you are most likely on the Lost Members Register.

 

#2. Create a myGov Account

This is the most beneficial choice for you. On top of being able to locate any lost super, you’ll be able to see all super fund account overviews from one place and even combine multiple super funds into one ‘preferred super fund’. All you’ll need to do is create an account and link it to the ATO.

 

#3. Use the ATO Superseeker Tool

This is what you’re looking for if you want to locate your lost super; quick, easy and painless. All you need to have handy is the following information:

  • Your TFN
  • Your family name
  • Your given name
  • Your DOB

Read the rest of this entry »