top tax tips to maximise your tax return

The 2010 tax deadline is less than a month away, so if you haven’t already lodged your return, now is the time to start doing something about it.

We have come up with our top tips to help you get your return right and maximise your tax refund this year:

1. Maximise your tax deductions –if you are claiming less than $300 you don’t need to keep receipts. The average amount claimed in personal tax returns for work related expenses in Australia is $1,920 per year, so claim what you can to ensure you don’t miss out on a great tax refund. Just make sure you know what you are allowed to claim in your occupation and keep the right records so the Tax Office can’t disallow your claims.

If you’re not sure what to claim, have a look at the Personal Tax Specialists’ website http://personaltaxspecialists.com.au/what-deductions-can-you-claim where you can find the specific tax deductions for more than 30 occupations.

2. Maximise your refund on children’s education expenses – here are a few tips to make sure you maximise your refund:

  • You must receive FTB Part A for each child or they must receive Youth Allowance (or similar payment
  • There is no need to deduct the private use of an expense when claiming for education expenses, so if you purchase a new computer for your children and they use it for school work and for playing games or surfing the internet, you can claim 100% of the cost (unless you claim a tax deduction for any part of the cost, then that part can’t be included)
  • Education expenses can be split between children to maximise your claim, provided all children have access to the item purchased
  • Where a child goes from primary school to secondary school during a tax year, you are able to claim the maximum allowed for a secondary school student for the whole year
  • If you spent more than the maximum allowed in the 2009 year, make sure you carry forward the excess to be used in this year’s return
  • This year the maximum refund you can claim is $390 for each primary school child and $779 for each secondary school child.

3. No receipts needed for items less than $10 – it’s sometimes difficult to get (or keep) receipts for all of your minor purchases during the year. Rather than having to worry about them, just keep a diary with the information that would normally be shown on a receipt (date, business name, item purchased, price). Then you can claim up to $200 a year for these small expenses, without keeping any receipts.

4. Claim for internet, phone and pay TV use – most people would use one or more of these services during the year for their work. To be able to claim a deduction in your tax return you will need to keep receipts confirming how much you have paid and also keep a diary record to work out what proportion of the expense is work related.
Your diary should be kept for one month of the year and needs to identify how much of the service is used for work and personal use.

5. Claim for using your car for work – the simplest way to claim for car expenses is to estimate the number of kilometres you travel for work purposes during the year (you can claim up to a maximum of 5,000km per vehicle). Trips could relate to attending meetings, conferences or training courses, travelling to pick up supplies, equipment or tools, or travelling between job sites or office locations.

You will need to be able to show the Tax Office how you have calculated the number of kilometres you claim for, but you don’t need to keep any receipts for petrol, car repairs or other running costs.

For more information about any of these tips contact Personal Tax Specialists Pty Ltd on 1300 335 675, admin@personaltaxspecialists.com.au or www.personaltaxspecialists.com.au.

Tracey Collins, for the Personal Tax Specialists team

About Personal Tax Specialists

• Offers personal tax returns for investors and people working in professional occupations
• Specialises in these occupations: travel consultants, nurses, teachers, building industry, sales representatives, Defence force, journalists, airline industry, chefs, emergency services, real estate, security guards, rental property owners and share investors
• Established in 2009 by tax professionals Tracey Collins and Christine Snelson

Phone 1300 335 675 – www.personaltaxspecialists.com.au