Tax steps you need to take now
TAX time is only three weeks away and there's no need to feel ashamed if you find it confusing - you're not alone.
Two-thirds of Australians believe they don't understand enough about tax returns, and many say it makes them feel anxious, a new study has found.
The Data2Decisions research commissioned by Officeworks found that almost 20 per cent of us don't always complete tax return, and one quarter say they have failed to file because they believed they had nothing to claim.
Tax specialists say work-related deductions are increasingly common amid a rise in Australians working from home.
People aged 18 to 34 are the most likely to feel anxious about tax returns, the research found.
Officeworks head of technology Sandy Young said there was a lack of awareness around tax deductions.
"Tax time can be overwhelming and complicated for some people, especially those who decide to tackle their tax return on their own," he said.
Now was the time to buy stuff for your desk at work or home office, Mr Young said.
"There are some fantastic free resources available online you want to read-up on all things tax in your own time. Jump onto myGov or the ATO website for various tools, calculators, guides and videos to help you get your head around what you could claim.
"Have all your evidence for everything you intend to claim ready to go - stuff like receipts, invoices and bank or credit card statements. It's a good idea to scan them to a computer and keep on a hard drive, as receipts can fade."
Lee Fuller, a director at chartered accountants William Buck, said many people who worried about tax returns were generally unorganised.
He said others worried about the threat of an audit from the Australian Taxation Office.
"There are complex rules in relation to claiming tax deductions for either a dedicated home office or purely employees working from home due to convenience," he said.
The ATO's online myTax platform enables people with simple tax affairs to complete their return in less than 30 minutes, but they risk missing deductions.
"Go and see a trusted registered tax agent and ask them to prepare and lodge your income tax return," Mr Fuller said.
Superannuation is another confusing area, and many workers don't realise they can now claim tax deductions for deposits they personally made during the year.
QSuper chief of member experience Jason Murray said more than 150,000 of the fund's 577,000 members might be able to claim hundreds of millions of extra deductions based on flexible new super changes that started in July 2017.
"June is a great time of year to review how much you have contributed in superannuation, and if you can, make additional contributions either before or after tax in order to boost your super", he said.
CLOCK IS TICKING
• Don't leave tax planning until July - you'll miss the boat.
• Understand what you can claim. Use online ATO tools or speak with a tax accountant.
• Buy work-related items now so you can claim a deduction in July.
• Investment expenses and super fund contributions are usually tax deductible, so consider spending before June 30.