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Top tips to maximise your tax return

13 June 2023
• 5 minute read
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Top tips to maximise your tax return

Tax time seems to come around quicker every year. But while filling out your tax return can undoubtedly be a pain, it pays (literally) to know how to maximise your potential refund from the ATO.

With the end of the financial year fast approaching, this article looks at various tips and strategies to ensure you get everything you’re entitled to.

Be sure of your tax bracket

The first way to maximise your tax return is by checking you’re in the right tax bracket. These can change from year to year, so it’s best not to make assumptions.

Take a look at the ATO website to get an understanding of where you should be. Once you know your tax bracket, you’ll be in a better place to review your deductions.

Claim for everything you can

Depending on your circumstances, some expenses you’ve built up during the year could be used to claim a tax refund. Those which you may be able to claim a deduction for in your end-of-year tax return include:

Work-related travel

If your employer requires you to drive or otherwise travel as part of your job, there are several expenses you may be able to claim for.

Sadly, travelling to work from home isn’t of them.  Valid deductions include:

  • Petrol and other car-related expenses.
  • Accommodation and meals (if your employer isn’t reimbursing you already).

Working from home

With more of us working from home than ever before, it’s good to know what you can claim for. Valid WFH expenses include:

  • Home office equipment like computers, desks, and chairs.
  • Decline in value of the above.
  • Heating, cooling and lighting of your home office room.
  • Stationery, telephone and internet costs.

Other work-related expenses

You might be surprised to discover how much you can claim for as long as it’s work-related. Other possible work-related deductions include:

  • Uniforms
  • Trade publications
  • Union subscriptions and fees
  • Studying expenses (if connected to your current employment)

Investment property

If you rent a property for income, the interest on your mortgage repayments plus some expenses like body corporate fees might be eligible for tax deduction.

Use your superannuation to save on tax

Putting extra money into your super before the year ends could help you reduce the amount of tax you have to pay, while also helping you prepare for your retirement. Here are some of the ways you can benefit:

Salary sacrifice

This is when your employer pays money into your super using your pre-tax salary. Expecting an end-of-year bonus? Ask your employer about salary sacrificing all or part of it so you save on tax.

A one-off contribution

Putting any spare (after-tax) cash you have into super could mean you pay less tax than you would investing it in other ways.

Government co-contribution

This is designed to help low-middle income earners. It means that if you put money into your super using your after-tax salary, the government also makes a contribution of up to $500 for you.

Spouse contributions

If your spouse is on a low income, any after-tax contribution of up to $3,000 you make to your spouse’s super account can entitle you to a $540 tax offset.

Remember, the amount you can pay into super before the end of the financial year using before or after-tax income is capped. You can check these limits on the ATO website.

Buy a car or other big item (if you need it)

If you’re on the lookout for a new car (or any big-ticket purchase), the end of the financial year can be a great time to go shopping. Lots of car dealers and other retailers drop their prices to clear stock and boost sales before the year ends.

And because lots of consumers are out looking for a deal, retailers competing with each other may offer a better price to get your business. If you don’t have the savings set aside and you’ve seen a great deal, you could consider a personal loan to grab that bargain.

Donate to charity

Did you know that some donations made to eligible charities can be used to reduce the amount of tax you pay? To receive a tax deduction, the donation must be $2 or more, be made to an eligible charity, and be claimed in your tax return for the income year in which you made the donation. Always check that the organisation you’re donating to has 'deductible gift recipient (DGR)' status from the ATO if you intend to claim a tax benefit.

Review your private health care situation

If you earn more than $90,000 a year as an individual or $180,000 as a couple and you don't have private health cover, you’ll be hit with the Medicare Levy Surcharge. This can be as much as 1.5% in addition to the 2% Medicare Levy that most taxpayers are liable for.

The good news is that this is easily avoided if you have even the most basic private hospital cover. In fact, it’s often possible to find cover for less than the cost of the Medicare Levy Surcharge, so you could even save money by doing this.

Use a tax agent

Let’s face it, filling out tax returns is complicated, boring, and time-consuming. So why not let someone else do it for you? While you’ll obviously have to pay for the services of a professional, there’s a reasonable chance they’ll end up saving you more than they cost.

Great Southern Bank, a business name of Credit Union Australia Ltd ABN 44 087 650 959, AFSL 238317. Conditions, fees and charges apply. This is general information and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Consider the appropriateness of the information, including the Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) booklet, before acting on it. The Financial Claims Scheme may apply to this product; refer to the T&Cs for more information.




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