Tax Time 2017: things to think about

It’s that time of the year again – with less than a month until the end of the financial year, this is an opportune time for some last minute tax savings/action!
The Turnbull Government’s recent Budget announced very few changes from a taxation perspective. The changes already enacted into law that will apply to the 2016-2017 tax year are as follows.

Accelerated depreciation for small businesses – extended to 30 June, 2018

  • On and from 12 May 2015, there is an instant asset write-off threshold of up to $20,000 for individual assets acquired and installed ready for use.
  • Small businesses can immediately deduct the business portion of most assets if they cost less than $20,000 and were purchased between 7:30PM on 12 May 2015 and 30 June 2018. This deduction can be used for each asset that costs less than $20,000, whether new or second-hand. You can claim the deduction through your tax return, in the year the asset was first used or installed ready for use.

Work related car expense calculation

  • The cents per kilometre method remains unchanged at 66 cents per kilometre which applies to all vehicles.

Rental property owners

  • From 1 July 2017, the Government announced that all travel deductions relating to inspecting, maintaining, or collecting rent for a rental property will be disallowed.
  • The Government announced that from 1 July 2017, plant and equipment depreciation deductions will be limited to outlays actually incurred by real estate property investors. For investors who purchase plant and equipment for their residential property investment after 9 May 2017 will be able to claim a deduction over the effective life of the asset. Property owners will be unable to claim deductions for plant and equipment purchased by a previous owner of the property.

Increase to the low-income thresholds for the Medicare Levy

  • The Government announced that the Medicare levy low-income thresholds for singles, families, seniors and pensioners will increase from the 2016-17 income year. The threshold increases mean that households will not pay the Medicare levy if their taxable income is below a statutory low-income threshold.
    • The singles threshold will increase to $21,655.
    • The family threshold will increase to $36,541 plus $3,356 for each dependent child or student.
    • The single seniors and pensioners threshold will increase to $34,244.
    • The family threshold for seniors and pensioners will increase to $47,670 plus $3,356 for each dependent child or student.
There still remains an increased responsibility placed on me as your Tax Agent in certain reporting areas regarding your spouse and your family situation.
I must complete and cross reference Income details of your Spouse including certain Superannuation details, Pension information, Rental Property, Child Support and Foreign Income information. Whilst this information is automatically cross referenced into each return if I am the Agent for both parties, if your Spouse does not complete their tax return through me, you will need to bring these details in with you when we meet to complete your tax return.
The ATO is seeking this information to calculate your entitlement to certain offsets or government concessions and will use this information to work out whether you need to pay tax or the Medicare levy surcharge.

Private Health Funds – Tax Rebate based on income level:

Your entitlement to the rebate will depend on your level of income. This income threshold has again increased marginally.
You will receive a statement from your private health insurer, which is required to complete your tax return. Please bring this statement with you when you meet with me to prepare your tax return.

Medicare Levy Surcharge – If you DON’T have qualifying Hospital Cover:

The Medicare levy surcharge remains unchanged.
  • 1% Medicare Levy Surcharge applies from $90,001/$180,001.
  • 1.25%  from $105,001/$210,001; and
  • 1.5% above $140,000/$280,000.

Net Medical Expense – Tax Offset

  • This offset is now only available for taxpayers with out-of-pocket medical expenses relating to disability aids, attendant care or aged care expenses until 1 July 2019.

 

Other matters to consider are as follows:

Business Clients:

  • Give some thought to purchasing Business supplies, stationery items, an extra Ink cartridge etc., before 30 June.
  • The “simpler” depreciation rules surrounding small business assets and new motor vehicles still apply.
  • Small gifts for clients and/or key business contacts can be claimed.  Keep each under $100.
  • Also – please forward your BAS spreadsheets ASAP after 21 July.

Home Office, Internet and Mobile Phone:

  • You can claim an allowance for using your Home Office for work related purposes.  Please note the number of hours spent doing ‘work from/at home’ in your home office in your diary over a 4 week period.  I will compile your claim when I do your return.
  • Do you use your Mobile Phone for work related matters?  Please locate your bills and/or pre-paid dockets and assess your work related usage.
  • You can claim a portion of your home internet usage that relates to your work and your ‘work-from-home’ situation as per your home office usage.
  • Many “work related” stationery items used in your home office can be allowable – perhaps a quick trip to your local Newsagent or Stationery Shop??

Bank Interest:

  • Please locate ALL Interest received on ALL Bank Accounts – the ATO now receives this information from all Financial Institutions.  Whilst I can obtain copies also, it is best to keep all your Bank Statements and/or it may be possible to obtain these interest amounts via your Internet Banking.

Donations:

  • Give some thought to perhaps making that long overdue donation before 30 June.  Donations made before 30 June can be claimed this year and as these generally result in a tax refund to you, this can be “returned” to you in your Tax refund shortly after lodging your return, otherwise you will have to wait another 12 months or more for the refund.

Dry Cleaning:

  • Perhaps that last minute dry cleaning of your work uniform/protective clothing.  Please ensure the Dry Cleaner notes the receipt as “Work Clothes”.

Motor Vehicle and Travel:

  • Work related motor vehicle expenses – please note the destination and odometer readings in your Diary or your log-book. You can also calculate the distances travelled using Google Maps or Whereis.
  • Work related travel – train/bus fares, tolls, accommodation and some meals can be claimed – please note in your diary and keep your receipt(s).

Other Expenses:

  • If you are not sure, please ask but nevertheless, KEEP ALL YOUR RECEIPTS!!!
In the past, the ATO has been slow at updating individuals’ tax reports. As such, I suggest you make appointments to complete your 2017 tax returns on and from say, 25 July, 2017. Please feel free to contact Bronwen or myself during normal business hours and I look forward to seeing you all shortly.

ATO now forwarding Tax Debts to Credit Reporting / Collection Agencies

The Tax Office introduced a new piece of legislation just before the end of 2016, allowing them to pass on the details of certain Tax Debts to Credit Agencies such as Equifax.  This news needs to be treated with some alarm as being referred to a Credit Agency can make it difficult for businesses (and individuals) to obtain credit in the future.

This does not affect everyone with a tax debt.  The legislation only allows the ATO to pass on a debt if it meets the following conditions:

  • The client is a SME (small to medium enterprise);
  • The tax debt is over $10,000 and more than 90 days overdue;
  • The tax debt is not in dispute; and/or
  • A payment plan has not been arranged.

So, if you’ve been in touch with the ATO to dispute your debt or arrange a payment plan, this won’t apply to you.

If you do meet the above criteria and think your tax debt may be passed on to a Credit Reporting / Collection Agency, please contact us immediately.  We can help you perhaps arrange payment terms with the ATO that could avoid adversely affecting your credit rating.