E-Lodge Tax Blog


Accommodation Allowances & Your Taxes

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Traveling for work? Deduct your accommodation costs!

Are you missing out on your friend’s barbie to travel for work? No doubt, we know that work can be a drag if you have to travel, especially if it isn’t for vacation time. On the other hand, you could enjoy being pampered for a few days and get away from home. Luckily, whether you enjoy traveling for work or not, you can deduct most of your accommodation costs on your tax return if you are responsible for all of your up-front business trip costs.

Let’s take a look if you’re eligible to deduct these expenses and how to do it.

 

Did your employer issue you a travel allowance?

First, if your employer issues you a travel allowance for accommodations, you need to report it as income on your tax return. In other words, you do not need to declare the allowance on your taxes if:

  • The travel allowance is not on your payment summary.
  • The allowance is a deductible accommodation cost.
  • You can count meal and incidental expenses.


So, if it’s not included as income, then you can’t report it. It’s as simple as that! 

 

Follow this 6 Rule Checklist:

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New 2017 Australian Tax Offsets!

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Tax offsets are coupons from the ATO.

When we go grocery shopping, it makes sense to bring as many coupons as we can to lower how much we pay. Wouldn’t it be great if we could do the same for our taxes? Well, you can! Tax offsets are coupons from the ATO since they help to lower the amount you owe to the ATO. You might be able to qualify for more than one offset. Let us help you lower your tax due and determine which tax offsets are beneficial to you.

 

How do I qualify for an offset?

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2017 Tax Season Deadline

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The 2017 tax season deadline is approaching quickly.

While most have already filed their returns, the 2017 tax season deadline is 31 October 2017. The ATO provides you with due dates of your tax deadlines.

Oh, the stress that comes with the tax season!

The pressure to file your tax return causes most of us to feel overwhelmed. There are added headaches involved while trying to get anything done by the tax season deadline. Before you give up and let a local accountant take care of it, keep in mind that they can have high fees and long wait times. Avoid the stress and let E-lodge be your remedy! With E-lodge, you can lodge a tax return from the comfort of your own home. Our user-friendly website makes it easy, fast and affordable to lodge your 2017 taxes today!

 

Why choose E-lodge?

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How to Qualify for the Australian Family Tax Benefit

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A new addition to the family is both exciting and overwhelming.

Once the “baby daze” subsides, reality begins to kick in. Suddenly, expenses begin to add up and you start to feel as though you’re in over your head. Don’t panic. We’re on your side. That’s why we’re here to discuss the Family Tax Benefit.

 

What exactly is the Family Tax Benefit?

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Tax Calculator 2017 FAQ

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Curious about your tax refund 2017? Let’s take a look.

With our Australian Tax Calculator 2017you can see your refund or tax due amount in no time at all. We’ve accumulated the most frequently asked questions about using our calculator to put your mind at ease.

What information will I need to use the E-Lodge tax calculator 2017?

You’ll want to have as much of your tax information on hand as possible, but, if you do not have access to all of the necessary documents, no worries! Our calculator will provide a close estimate with the information you do have. Some of the information that we will prompt you for is included in the list below:

  • Basic household information
  • Centrelink and Retirement
  • Investments and Business Income
  • Health Insurance and Medical Expenses
  • Education Debt
  • Work-related Expenses
  • Charitable Donations

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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

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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…

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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

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