It is time to organise your personal finances to be certain you maximise your tax benefits for the 2012-13 tax year.

Here are some reminders to help you pay the least amount of tax possible.

Donations

Don’t forget to claim deductions for donations to your favourite charities to get a tax deduction, but be sure to keep all donation receipts.

You may be able to spread deductions for certain gifts over a five year period. ShareGift Australia facilitates the sale of the shares and donates the proceeds. You will be liable for any capital gains from the sales.

ShareGift Australia encourages donors to recommend the charities they want their donations directed towards. While the board of ShareGift will consider all requests, the actual recipient is at the board’s discretion. To date, however, the board has made donations to all eligible charities with deductible gift recipient status that donors have recommended.

Property investments

Claim all your real estate investment expenses for the year, including insurance, repairs, maintenance, council and water rates, agent management fees, travel to and from the property and depreciation.

You might want to obtain a professional depreciation report from a quantity surveyor. It will cost between $500 and $600, but will help you make the most of your capital expenses claim.

If you are planning to sell a property for a profit, consider deferring it until after June to lower your tax exposure this year. Keep in mind that the sale date for tax purposes is the day the contract is signed, not the settlement date.

Zone offset

If you live or work in a remote area which is defined as either Zone A or Zone B, you may be eligible for the zone tax concession. To be eligible for the zone tax offset, you must have lived or worked in the zone for:

  • 183 days or more during the past tax year, or
  • 183 days or more during the 2011 and 2012 tax years, including at least 1 day in 2012, and you did not claim the zone tax offset on your 2011 tax return

Natural disasters

If you were affected by a flood or fire in 2013, the Tax Office can give you helpful extensions and concessions.

If you need more time to lodge or pay your taxes, you can ask the Tax Office for more time to lodge your 2013 return. If you receive an extension there generally are not penalties.

If you’re experiencing financial difficulties as a direct result of a natural disaster you can ask for extra time to pay money you already owe to the Tax Office.

If you volunteered to help with a disaster clean-up (particularly if you travelled interstate) you can also request an extension of time.

Miscellaneous

Repairs and maintenance: If you hold an investment property, claim all minor repairs and maintenance30 June.

Motor vehicle expenses: If you claim these costs, make sure you have a log book that covers travel for 12 continuous weeks or you have some other means to support your claim.

Work-related tax deductions: If these exceed $300 you must justify them with written evidence. If the claim is less than that amount you need to be prepared to demonstrate how you calculated the claim but you don’t need evidence.

Carbon tax compensation: Retirees who are eligible for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card may qualify for the carbon-tax compensation. Singles who earn as much as $50,000 and couples with income of as much as $80,000 are eligible for the compensation.

Consult with your professional adviser to help ensure you take every possible step to trim your tax bill.

 

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