Career & Money

Tax Hacks 101 | Here’s How To Max Out Your Tax Return

By Yvonne Lam - 18 Jun 2018

It’s June, and we bet you’ve heard these following statements—“can you believe it’s already June!” (ICYMI this is what life as a grown up is like), and “are you going to sort out your tax this year? Don’t forget to call your Nan!” (your mum).

You’ve probably watched enough Queer Eye for all your life lessons, but they really need to add one more guy to the line-up: The Tax Expert. Because short of remembering your login deets to MyTax, you have NFI how to properly lodge a tax return.

Never fear. We’ve pulled together a list of golden tips to max out your return—and the best part? They’re all legit #welcome. 

#1 Get Your Life Admin Together

Numero uno, you can legit hack that tax if you have the paperwork to back it up. Think of it like creating your very own tax checklist of your personal details like your tax file number, bank deets, Medicare number and expenses. You’re playing the long game here—every receipt, every mileage, every phone call—should be well-documented, because it’ll pay off big time at tax time. It’s as simple as downloading the ATO app, or starting a Google Sheet. It’s like going to the gym. Every minute you do it, you can humble brag to your mates later about it—did 15 reps of receipt filing this week. Didn’t break a sweat.

#2 Here's Everything You Could Be Claiming 

When we say everything, we mean there is a hell of a lot that we're willing to bet you haven't even thought about. Let's start with charitable donations. There’s an extra win to donating to charities—you can claim these donations as a tax deduction. No, your mate’s crowdfunding campaign to make woolen dog vests doesn’t count. You’ve got to donate $2 or more to an organisation that has DGR (deductible gift recipient) status, and backed it up with a receipt. 

Ever travelled to meetings on your own coin? Bought a new handbag for work? You can claim these as work expenses come tax time, provided you keep a record of how they're related to doing your job.   

For anyone working on their freelance dream, there are a whole heap of things you can claim at tax time. If you work from home, you can claim expenses on your phone, internet, laptop, even the frigging electricity to run the lights. Of course, they’ve got to be work-related expenses—if in doubt pay a cheeky visit to the ATO before you claim. You can’t claim your computer if you only use it to play The Sims, or the costs of running the lava lamp in your bedroom. Unless you’re a lava lamp tester. In which case, where do I apply?

#3 Earning More Than $90k A Year?

First, tell me your secret. And then, consider getting hospital insurance. The tax office slugs the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) to peeps earning more than $90k. It’s a 1-1.5% tax on your income, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but do the maths—you’re looking at approx $901 of your hard-earned coin going straight to the tax man. 

However, if you take out an appropriate level of hospital insurance (HBF can help you figure out the best policy here), you won’t get hit with the surcharge. Why? The idea is that if you’ve got the casholah, you should use the private hospital system to take the pressure off the public system, and leave it to those who need it the most. It’s a little confusing, so they've done you a solid and spelt it out here

TUL tip: make sure you’re looking at a policy that gets you hospital insurance. If you get covered for extras only (chiro, physio, dental, that sort of thing), you’ll still get stung with the surcharge. Lucky for you guys they've pulled together a bunch of options that provide hospital cover for all sorts of budgets.  

If you're earning more, we're willing to bet you're getting older and maaaaaaybe even approaching the big 3-0. With that in mind, let us introduce you to a little thing called Lifetime Health Cover loading. While it’s not a tax, it means if you decide to take out hospital insurance after you turn 31, it’s gonna cost you more. Our mates at HBF have the low-down here

#4 Make Sure You Declare Every, Single Cent

ICYMI failing to declare exactly how much you earned last year is not going to win you any friends at the ATO and it might even hold up your tax return (which isn't ideal if you're planning to jump on those European early bird flights). In a nutshell, you want to make sure what you’re declaring matches up with what your employer is paying you. Our hot tip? Revert back to your tax checklist from point one—see, we told you it would come in handy #welcome.

#5 Get The Professionals To Help You Out

A great accountant is like a great hairdresser. They get cross if you try to do it yourself (and f*ck it up); you trust them to make you look good; they don’t take any dodgy shortcuts. 

Plus, you can claim your accountant’s fees in the next financial year. It’s not even a suss loophole. Genius. 

Editor’s note: This article is sponsored by HBF Health and proudly endorsed by The Urban List. This article gives you general tax advice only. Always be sure to consult a professional for tax advice to suit your individual needs. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make The Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.

Image credit: Stocksy

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