Eight steps to the best tax refund
Here are some tips to make sure that in 2014 you're able to make good on that promise to yourself to be more organised at tax time.
1. Eftpos/credit card your work-related expenses: the ATO now accepts credit card and bank statements as proof of a claim so if you are shocking at keeping receipts then make sure you use credit card or eftpos for your tax-deductible expenses.
2. Take a photo of your receipts: if you know you'll forget to pull out your credit card or you simply prefer to pay cash then take out your phone each time you make a purchase that is claimable and take a photo of the receipt. To ensure those receipts aren't accidentally deleted, save them into a folder on your computer (and a backup drive) called 2014 tax time. The ATO accept scanned receipts as proof of your deduction so you could even throw away the original.
3. Use an app: there are so many different smartphone applications designed to photograph or scan and store your receipts. Take a look, choose one that works for you and start using it. The best ones allow you to take a photo at purchase, throw the receipt away and it saves the photo in the cloud to the correct category instantly. Genius.
4. Keep a log book: if your accountant told you to keep a log book then make sure you do. If you're likely to forget then start today. Yes, today. Again, you can do this on paper or use one of the many apps available on your smartphone to do this for you.
5. Keep receipts for everything you are entitled to: this means making sure you know what you can claim. If you're unsure, the ATO have loads of fact sheets for different professions online that you can download and read. Or my rule of thumb is if you think there is even a tiny chance that you might be able to claim something, then keep the receipt and ask your accountant at the end of the year. We can't claim without a receipt but if you're organised we can give you more options.
6. Make a regular donation to charity: many people have the best of intentions when it comes to donating but simply forget. Why not set up a monthly donation now so that it's all ready for you come tax time.
7. Consider wealth creation strategies: research that rental property, book an appointment with a financial planner, buy those shares you've been looking at or salary sacrifice your bonus or pay increase. Simply make this the year that you do something about creating wealth for retirement instead of just talking about it.
8. Look at your structure: many people keep buying investments in their own names because that's what they've always done. The start of a new financial year is a great time to revisit how you are doing things to make sure you are set up in the most beneficial way for 2014.
Rather than feeling annoyed with yourself this time next year for not changing your bad habits, why not choose two of these tips to improve your result and then simply do something about it. It really is that easy and you'll be much happier when you lodge your tax next year.