Insights Edition 61, Winter 2017 - Article Two
Your Financial Year Checklist
Who doesn’t love the end of the financial year? Okay, so maybe sorting through a shoebox full of receipts isn’t your idea of fun, but don’t worry. With our handy checklist, you can take some of The headache out of tax time. You might even find ways to give your finances a boost.
The end of financial year has a way of creeping up and catching us unprepared. But this time you can be ready, with a to-do list of tasks that you can tick off as you go.
And if you’re a business owner, we’ve also got some useful tips to help you manage your financial obligations and plan for the year ahead.
So here’s our checklist to start you on your way.
GETTING READY FOR THE TAX MAN
- Confirm if you need to lodge a tax return - If you received an income through employment or investments during the financial year, chances are you’ll have to lodge a tax return after 30 June. If you’re not sure whether you need to do one, you can find out by using the Australian Tax Office’s online tool – ‘Do I need to lodge a tax return?’
- Organise your documents - Your tax return needs to show everything you earned between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017. As the first step, gather your payment summaries from your employer, invoices for any self‑employed work you’ve done, and bank statements that verify your income.
- Identify your investment earnings - Your tax return also needs to indicate any income you’ve earned from non-work activities during the financial year. This includes dividends from shares and rental income from investment properties, as well as assessable capital gains from the sale of investment assets. Make sure you have a clear record of all your investment earnings for the year, with documentary evidence to back it up.
- Collect receipts for donations or gifts - You may be able to claim a tax deduction for donations or gifts you’ve made during the financial year to charitable organisations or other eligible ‘deductible gift recipients’. You’ll need to find all your receipts for these – monetary gifts must be over $2 and different rules apply for gifts of money or property, so ask your accountant which ones you can claim.
- Work out your deductions - Depending on your employment situation, you may be able to claim a tax deduction for money you’ve spent on things like your car or other transport, work uniform, tools, home office equipment or education and training expenses. You may also be able to claim deductions on costs you incur in earning investment income (such as interest payments) and super contributions, so talk to your accountant to find out what you’re eligible for.
- Calculate child support payments - If you’re making child support payments or providing any related benefits, calculate the total you’ll be paying during this financial year. Depending on your circumstances, these costs may be deducted from your adjusted taxable income.
SORTING OUT YOUR SUPER
- Make an after-tax contribution - From 1 July, the annual cap for after-tax or ‘non-concessional’ super contributions will reduce from $180,000 to $100,000. The ‘bring-forward’ rule, which allows you to make three years’ worth of contributions at any time during a three-year period, will also be reduced from $540,000 to $300,000. Also from 1 July, if your total superannuation balance is $1.6 million or more, your annual cap reduces to nil, while your bring-forward cap will reduce once your total superannuation balance is $1.4 million or more.
- Start salary sacrificing - The annual caps for pre-tax or ‘concessional’ contributions will also reduce on 1 July. Before, you can contribute up to $30,000 a year – or $35,000 if you’re 50 or over any time during a financial year – but under the new rule, everyone’s cap will be $25,000. Salary sacrificing part of your income into super might be a strategy worth considering for next financial year.
- Don’t exceed your caps - If there’s a possibility you’ve already gone above your concessional or non-concessional contributions caps, work out how much you’ve put into super so far this financial year. If you’ve put in too much, your financial adviser can help you take the excess out of super, so you can avoid paying a penalty.
- Find other ways to contribute - If you’re a low income earner, you might be eligible for other types of contributions or government payments – for instance, a split contribution from your spouse, a government co-contribution or the Low Income Super Contribution (LISC). If you’re not sure what you’re entitled to, ask your financial adviser.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
- Organise your paperwork - If you’re a business owner, the type of tax return you need to lodge will depend on the structure of your business. Your accountant will likely want to see your profit and loss statement for the financial year, plus your balance sheet, general ledger report and bank reconciliation report, so it’s best to get these ready in advance.
- Reconcile your payroll - If you employ staff, you’ll need to give them each a payment summary by 14 July so they can lodge their own tax returns. You can also use this opportunity to check that your staff members’ salaries are in line with award rates and you’ve paid them the required amount of super.
- Update your financial records - As with each monthly or quarterly Business Activity Statement (BAS) you lodge, make sure you have all the financial documents ready that you’ll need. The Australian Taxation Office website has a full list – and yours may include bank statements, a PAYG payment summary, receipts and invoices, and records of fuel tax and GST.
- Check your depreciating assets - Until 30 June 2017*, businesses with a turnover of less than $10 million per year can now deduct the full cost of any depreciating assets under $20,000 (purchased before 1 July 2017) – and a portion of the cost of assets over $20,000. If you’ve made a purchase for your business in the past year, check with your accountant to see if you can claim a deduction.
- Work out your deductions - Tax time is also when you should review your stock and see if you may be able to claim deductions on anything your business makes, buys or sells. You may even be able to claim a deduction for things like interest on business loans and overdrafts.
- Plan your spending - As many of your business expenses may probably qualify for a tax deduction, it’s worth thinking strategically about when to pay them. There may be costs you want to pay now so you may claim a deduction for this financial year – and on the other hand, you may want to put off some payments so you can save the deduction for next financial year.
* The Federal Budget has proposed extending the $20,000 immediate deductibility threshold for the purchase of depreciating assets to assets used or held ready for use by 30 June 2018. At the time of writing, this proposal had not been legislated.
Your financial adviser can help
It’s always a good idea to speak to your financial adviser when you’re sorting out your finances for the year. They can help make sure you have the right financial arrangements in place for your personal circumstances and lifestyle goals, so you can start off next financial year on the right foot.