The end of the 2015/16 financial year is almost here, so now’s the time to review what strategies you can use to minimise your tax.
His words might have been recorded over 200 years ago, but Benjamin Franklin’s famous uttering “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes” remains as true today as it was in 1789. The one thing that is constantly changing is tax law but, by following our strategies, taxation doesn’t need to inflict too much pain.
Here is a list of tips to help you minimise the amount of tax you pay.
Even if you use an accountant to prepare your tax return, you are responsible for the information you provide and for keeping your tax records for a minimum of five years. So, to ensure that you don’t have to pay any more tax than you are obliged to:
You may be able to claim a tax deduction for many of your expenses. These include:
You should bear in mind that the range of permissible work-related expenses varies widely from occupation to occupation. Refer to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website for full details.
Salary packaging involves the receipt of certain non-cash benefits in place of a taxable salary.
Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) means that most non-cash benefits are taxed at the highest marginal tax rate. Receiving these benefits does not improve your taxation position, and if you are a low-income earner it may actually increase the tax you have to pay.
However, some items receive favourable treatment under FBT rules, so it can still be an advantage to consider these benefits as part of a salary package.
Beneficial salary packaging arrangements may include mobile phones, laptop computers, and novated leases on motor vehicles.
Not everyone can obtain a real benefit from salary packaging. There are also some paperwork and procedural requirements that need to be fulfilled to set up an effective salary packaging arrangement, so talk to a professional adviser before embarking on this strategy.
Contributions to superannuation can reduce the level of tax you would otherwise have to pay on your investments because super is taxed at a maximum of 15%. In addition, some people are eligible to claim a tax deduction for contributions made to super.
The rules surrounding superannuation tax deductibility provisions and contribution limits are complex, so it pays to seek advice from your financial planner.
When you sell an investment for a profit, you are considered to have made a capital gain. For non-professional investors, capital gains will be included on your annual income tax return. Assets acquired before 20 September 1985 are exempt from Capital Gains Tax (CGT) considerations.
When you sell an asset for less than you initially paid for it, you make a capital loss. When your total capital losses for the year outweigh your total capital gains, you will finish up with a net capital loss for the year.
If you have a potential CGT liability, there are a few strategies that you could consider to reduce the amount you need to pay.
Investors are entitled to claim a 50% discount on capital gains made on assets held for longer than a year. So, by holding on to the investment for more than 12 months you will halve the CGT payable.
If you are thinking of selling a profitable asset, such as shares or property, it may be worth deferring this sale until after the end of the financial year. By doing so, you will delay incurring CGT for another financial year. While you will need to pay the CGT eventually, freeing up short-term cash flow may be beneficial, depending on your circumstances.
Capital losses incurred in previous tax years that have not already been offset against capital gains may be carried forward in future tax years and can mitigate the effect of any CGT liability. Check your past income tax returns or ask your accountant to determine whether this is an option for you.
Remember that this information is not personal tax advice. Always consult a professional adviser to help you determine the best strategies for your personal circumstances.
 Including 2% Temporary Budget Repair Levy and 2% Medicare Levy