10 Easy Ways to Get Your Best Tax Return Ever

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  • Claim Your Phone Expenses
  • Be Organised with Receipts
  • Benchmark Against Other People In Your Job
  • Industry Specific Deductions
  • Tools and Equipment
  • Your Car
  • Working from Home
  • Studying
  • Don’t Neglect the Cheap Stuff
  • The ATO Does Not Have a Sense of Humour

 

Are you doing your tax return yourself to save some cash? Great idea, except that without a tax expert in front of you, how do you claim for everything you’re eligible for, without getting your door kicked in by the ATO?

Don’t panic; we’re here to make sure your DIY tax return is the best one you’ve ever had! You might have had a massive return one year so we’re not really in a position to make that bold a statement. Perhaps this article should be called, ‘how to make sure your tax return is good.’

Oh well, too late now.

Claim Your Phone Expenses

Do you use your phone for work? Of course you do, and because of that, you can claim a percentage of your annual phone bill.

How much? Well, if 50% of your calls are work-related, and you spend $80 a month on your phone bill, then you can claim $480 (80*12*50%) of work-related mobile phone expenses on your tax return.

Jump onto POP and we’ll show you. 

Be Organised with Receipts

You don’t need a filing cabinet, just grab an old shoe box and chuck in your receipts when you’re emptying your pockets.

“But everything is online these days and I don’t have paper receipts and I don’t want to print everything off.”

Stop whining. The ATO has moved on from the dark ages and accepts electronic copies of receipts, so open a file on your email called ‘receipts’ (imaginative) and drag them in there when they come through.

Benchmark Against Other People in Your Job

It’s like copying in an exam except it’s totally legal and it makes you money.

“Do I need to stalk people? Isn’t that illegal these days?”

Put away that ski mask. POP has used ATO statistics to build a benchmarking tool that lets you see the average total deductions from humans just like you. We even break it down per deduction type. For example, if 20% of people claimed an average of $1,304 of car expenses in your occupation at your income level then you’ll know.

Industry Specific Deductions

Most accountants don’t provide advice on industry-specific deductions. Why? Because it’s impossible for them to know the details of every single industry. POP‘s all over it. We’ve incorporated industry-specific deductions into our return tool which will guide you through common deductions based on your job.

Tools and Equipment 

The big one here is depreciation. If your tools are worth more than $300, they are eligible to be depreciated over their lifetime. Sounds tricky, but POP provides a guideline for rates, so you know what to do. It’s simple and can make your tax return even healthier. Which is weird for a word like ‘depreciation’ which sounds like some kind of disease. Can you imagine someone screaming, “oh no, I’ve got depreciation?”

No? Just us then.

Your Car 

It’s this cool – just estimate your work-related travel km’s for the year and multiply the total kilometres by 66 cents to get your vehicle deduction.

So easy. Except that if the ATO comes knocking and you can’t prove that you used your car for business travel…uh oh.

The good news is that if you keep a logbook and track your usage over a 12-week period, then that logbook is good for five years.

“That still sounds too hard.”

Here’s what your claim could look like –

Fuel                             $1,200
Rego                            $1,100
Insurance                    $350
Repairs/servicing        $800
Depreciation               $3,750 (Car cost $25,000*25% Depreciation rate)

TOTAL                         $7,200
Business use                80%
Deduction                   $5,760

“I’ll do it.”

Working from Home

Working from home is awesome because you can have the TV on in the background, make your own coffee whenever you want, and you don’t have to share a partition with chatty Terry who keeps talking about his golden retriever. Nobody cares, Terry.

Best of all, if you work from home you could bolster your tax return with some of your expenses. For example –

  • Heating, cooling and lighting of your home office
  • The decline in value of home office furniture and fittings
  • The decline in value of office equipment and computers
  • Computer consumables, stationery, telephone and internet costs
 

Studying 

If you are studying to improve your current career path, then you’ve properly forked out for textbooks, stationery, course fees, laptop and perhaps even some travel and accommodation. Good news – learning is good and you’re getting smarter!

Also, you can claim for all that stuff and maybe even a portion of your Internet connection.

Just remember –

  • The course must have a sufficient connection to your current employment
  • The course must improve specific skills or knowledge required in your current employment
  • The course must mean that you’ll likely receive an increase in your income from your current employment.
 

Don’t Neglect the Cheap Stuff

You’ve got your shoebox full of receipts but remember that you don’t need proof of purchase for anything under $300. So, if you lost a couple of receipts when you washed your jeans and ended up with lint all over everything, don’t sweat it.

The ATO Does Not Have a Sense of Humour

If you are doing your tax yourself, make sure you are using a system that helps guide you through the process. The ATO doesn’t take kindly to people attempting to claim more than they are eligible for, and an audit is as much fun as a root canal.

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