Last-minute tax planning tactics

This financial year is almost over, but there are still effective strategies you may be able to employ to make sure you pay the right amount of tax for the 2019-20 year and maximise any refund entitlement. This is still, if not more so, the case in the current COVID-19 environment.

While the best strategies are adopted as early as possible in a financial year and not at the end, it’s worth remembering proper tax planning is more than just sourcing bigger and better deductions. The best tips involve assessing your current circumstances and planning your associated income and deductions.

Not all of the following tips will suit your specific circumstances, but they should provide a list of possibilities that may get you thinking along the right track. Of course, check with this office if you need further information.

INVESTMENT PROPERTY

Expenses stemming from your rental property can be claimed in full or in part, so, if possible, it can be helpful to bring forward any expenses that can be undertaken before June 30 and claim them in the current financial year. If you know that your investment property needs some repairs, some gutter clean up or some tree lopping, for example, see if you can bring the maintenance and (deductible) payments into the 2019-20 year.

It should also be noted that deductible rental property expenses remain deductible even if the property is not rented, as long as it is genuinely available for rent (and this may be relevant in the current COVID-19 environment).

PRE-PAY INVESTMENT LOAN INTEREST

If you have spare cash, see if you can negotiate with your finance provider to pay interest on borrowings upfront for
the investment property or margin loan on shares (or other loan types) and make that deduction available this year. Most taxpayers can claim a deduction for up to 12 months ahead. But make sure your lender has allocated funds secured against your property correctly, as a tax deduction is generally only allowed against the finance costs incurred for the purpose of earning assessable income from investments.

Be aware that a deduction may not be available on funds you redraw from a loan of this type that is put to other purposes. Also, a component of the National Rental Affordability Scheme payment is not assessable income and therefore the deduction on these properties may need to be apportioned. Ask this office if you want to know more.

BRING FORWARD EXPENSES OR DEFER INCOME

Try to bring forward any other deductions (like the interest payments mentioned above) into the 2019-20 year. If
for instance you know that next income year you will be earning less (for example, due to maternity leave or going part-time), then you will be better off bringing forward any deductible expenses into the current year.

An exception will arise if you expect to earn more next financial year. In that case it may be to your advantage to delay any tax-deductible payments until next financial year, when the financial benefit of deductions could be greater. Tax planning is the key, as your personal circumstances will dictate whether these measures are appropriate.

It’s probably a bit late to adopt this strategy now, but you could take advantage of this sort of timing and place money into a term deposit that matures after 30 June 2021. Then interest will accrue to you in the following tax year.

Again, this type of strategy may be invaluable if you are anticipating less or more income next year as a result of the effect of COVID-19 on the economy.

USE THE CGT RULES TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

If you have made and crystallised any capital gain from your investments this financial year (which will be added to your assessable income), think about selling any investments on which you have made a loss before 30 June. Doing so means the gains you made on your successful investments can be offset against the losses from the less successful ones, reducing your overall taxable income.

And while there may be many opportunities to realise capital losses in the current circumstances, you should
be aware that the deliberate realisation of capital losses for the purpose of reducing capital gains in some circumstances is not acceptable to the ATO. Speak to this office about this.

Keep in mind that for CGT purposes a capital gain generally occurs on the date you sign a contract, not when you settle on a property purchase or share transaction. When making a large capital gain toward the end of an income year, knowing which financial year the gain will be attributed to is a great tax planning advantage.

Of course, tread carefully and don’t let mere tax drive your investment decisions – but check with this office to determine whether this strategy will suit your circumstances, and whether you risk attracting the attention of the ATO in any way.

FINAL REMINDERS

You can claim up to $300 of work-related expenses without receipts, provided the claims are reasonable for outgoings related to earning assessable income. If the total amount you are claiming is $300 or less, you need to be able to show how you worked out your claims, but you do not need written evidence.

No-one knows your affairs better than yourself, so you will recognise if any of these tax tips apply to your circumstances. But no-one is better informed as to what is appropriate, or indeed allowable, than your tax agent (and don’t forget, any fee is an allowable deduction in the year it is paid).

Every individual taxpayer is required to lodge their return before October 31, but tax professionals are generally given more time to lodge, which can be a handy extension to a payment deadline if any arises.

Of course, if you’re sure you are going to get a refund there is no use delaying, so in these cases it is worth getting all of your information to this office as soon as you can after July 1 – especially if the importance of a refund looms large to you.

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Welcome to the InterActive Tax Consultants’ news – part of our personal and easy to understand approach to taxation. We are committed to working with you to achieve the best results for your business. If you have any question or would like more information on any of the articles please contact us.