Easter Signals Tax Countdown

By Arthur Kassos

Happy Easter everyone. I can't believe it is April already. In an accountant's eye, that's only a couple of months before the end of the year, financial year that is. I hope everyone is already well advanced in their year-end tax planning, otherwise before you know it, it's 30th June and it will be too late.

Important issues at the moment with the Australian Taxation Office are: log books for your cars; super payments not being paid for "sub contractors", who are basically being paid in their own name but mostly for their labour; and rental property expenses.

The tax department has put out a travel expenses fact sheet for rental properties. A couple of important points in the fact sheet include:

  1. Driving by your rental property on the way to or from somewhere does not make the trip deductible as it was only incidental to the main purpose of your trip.
  2. A common misconception is that if you own a property in another city then all the travel and accommodation expenses to inspect the property would be deductible. That would be the case if that was the sole purpose of your trip, but if you happen to be going to that city on holidays and you only spend 20% of your time on issues that relate to the rental property, then only 20% of your expenses, excluding travel costs, would be deductible. You'll get a deduction for the travel portion as visiting the property was not the predominant reason for your trip it was merely incidental.

The ATO has said that only half of Australian families that were eligible to claim for the Education Tax Refund (ETR) have done so. Under the ETR claims of up to $375 for primary school children and $750 for secondary school children for eligible expenses are still available until March-April 2010 (for 2009 education expenses) if you lodge your individual tax returns through a tax agent.

Just before I finish I'd like to warn people of an email Phishing scam where unscrupulous people request confidential information over the internet. They use fake tax office logos and email address to scam private details from you such as date of birth, credit card details and even tax file numbers so be very careful.

The ATO will not normally contact you as they normally have all your personal information.