Happy New Year
Welcome to the Personal Tax Specialists 2015 Tax Time Update.
Your 2015 tax return
It’s hard to believe another financial year is nearly over, but that means it’s time to start getting your records together again for this year’s tax return. We will be emailing your ‘2015 Quick Update Form’ to you soon to make sure that we have all of your details up to date. On this form you can also indicate which month you would like us to get started on your tax return this year.
Major changes in 2015
This year there have been a few changes that will affect your tax return in the 2015 year and beyond. Some of the things that you might need to be aware of are:
1. Medical expenses offset
You will generally only be able to claim for medical expenses if you claimed for them in your last two years’ tax returns (i.e. in 2013 AND 2014). This is also the LAST year general medical expenses will be claimable so there is no need to keep receipts for these for tax purposes in the future.
However, if you have to pay for disability aids, aged care or attendant care costs you will still be able to claim for these, even if you didn’t claim for them last year. Please check with us if you think you may be eligible for this offset.
2. More offsets removed
Unfortunately some of the offsets that have been around for a long time have been removed this year. This includes the Mature age worker offset and the Dependant spouse offset. If your spouse is receiving a disability payment, or is caring for someone who does, you may still be entitled to claim for the Dependent (invalid and carer) offset. Check with us when we are completing your tax return if you think this may apply to you.
3. Changes to car expense claims for next year
From 1 July 2015, there will only be two options for claiming your car running costs. The rate per kilometre method and the log book method.
Under the rate per kilometre method, the rate will be changed to a flat 66c/km for ALL vehicles, regardless of the engine size. This may mean that your claim for car travel is reduced by up to $500 from next year.
If you travel significantly more than 5,000km per year for work, it may be worth considering keeping a log book during the 2015 year to maximise your deductions. You will also need to keep receipts for ALL of your car-related expenses.
4. Are you going overseas and still have a HECS/HELP debt?
From 1 July 2016, if you have a HECS/HELP debt you will be required to make repayments on this debt even if you are living and working overseas. If you are planning to go overseas from 1 January 2016 for more than 6 months, you will need to register with the ATO before you leave. If you are already living and working overseas, you will have until the 1 July 2017 to register.
5. Changes to zone offset for fly-in fly-out workers
From 1 July 2015 you will only be able to claim for the zone offset (for living in a remote area) if your main residence is within a zone. In the past (and this will still apply for your 2015 return), you could claim for the zone offset based on the number of nights you were staying in a remote area for work. So make sure you claim for the zone offset this year if you are entitled to it.
6. Telstra shares buy-back
If you participated in the Telstra buy-back in October 2014, don’t forget to include this in your 2015 tax return. We will need to know how much you originally paid for your shares and when you purchased them. Please also send us the statement you received with the buy-back so we can correctly allocate the amount you received on your return.
This year’s audit targets
The Tax Office hasn’t announced their audit targets for 2015 yet. But if you claim for a large amount of work expenses or for any unusual deductions for your occupation, you may be on the Tax Office’s radar this year. So no matter how much you plan to claim, make sure you have records to prove all of your expenses.
At the very minimum, the records you need to keep for your work expenses are:
- receipts for all work expenses costing $10 or more
- a diary record of any minor work expenses (costing $10 or less and up to a total of $200 for the year) where you haven’t kept the receipt
- a diary record of any work related trips you have made in your personal car
- a diary record of your internet use for work for one month during the year
- a diary record of your telephone use (mobile and home) for work for one month during the year.
If you are unsure about what expenses you can claim for in your occupation have a look at the updated ‘what deductions can you claim’ page on our website.
If you know of anyone who might find any of the information in this email useful, please feel free to forward it on to them.
Thanks for your support over the last year and as always, if you have any tax related questions, please just ask. We look forward to catching up with you over the next few months.
The Personal Tax Specialists team