July – Tax Update

Tax offsets, increased ATO scrutiny and more scams to be aware of!

Low and middle income tax offset

The new low and middle income tax offset (LMITO) will be available for individuals, providing a benefit of up to $255 if you earn under $37,000 and up to $1,080 for if you earn between $48,000 and $90,000. The offset reduces by 3 cents for every dollar in excess of $90,000. There is no offset for individuals who earn more than $126,000.

Deduct work-related expenses

People overclaiming deductions for work-related expenses like vehicles, travel, internet and mobile phones and self-education are on the ATO’s hitlist again this year. There are three main rules when it comes to work-related claims:

  • You can only claim a deduction for money you have actually spent (and that your employer hasn’t reimbursed).
  • The expense must be directly related to earning your work income.
  • You must have a record to prove the expense.

Deductions are not allowed for private expenses (eg travel from home to work that’s not required to transport bulky equipment) or reimbursed expenses (eg for the cost of meals, accommodation and travel). And although you don’t need to include records like receipts with your tax return, the ATO can deny your claim – and penalties may apply – if you can’t produce the evidence when asked.

Tip: The ATO now uses real-time data to compare deductions across similar occupations and income brackets, so it can quickly identify higher-than-expected or unusual claims.

Don’t forget sharing economy income

Money that you earn from “gig” jobs through platforms like Uber, Airtasker and Airbnb, such as transporting passengers or renting out a room or house, counts as your assessable income. This means you must declare it on your tax return.

Depending on your gig activities and expenses, you may also be able to claim deductions related to this type of income, but it’s important to keep evidence to support your claims.

Superannuation Funds – Important to note!

New rules mean that insurance coverage will be cancelled on “inactive” superannuation accounts from 1 July 2019, unless the fund member informs the fund in writing that they want to keep the insurance. Also, where an inactive account has a low balance (under $6,000) the fund will have to send that super to the ATO for consolidation and safekeeping.

If you haven’t made contributions or rolled over your super in the past 16 months, no matter what your balance, it’s important to check in with your fund now to keep your account active and maintain the insurance you want.

Tip: The new law also bans super funds from charging exit fees when you want to leave the fund, which should make it easier to change and consolidate your super accounts when you need to.

Beware of ATO impersonation scams at tax time

The ATO warns taxpayers to be alert to malicious scammers who are using increasingly sophisticated methods and technology to impersonate the ATO. A new tactic on the rise is “spoofing”, where scammers mimic a legitimate ATO phone number caller ID to call or send SMS messages, or mimic a legitimate email domain to send emails.

SMSs and emails may ask you to click on a link and provide your personal details to get a “refund” from the ATO. Scammers may also say you need to pay a (fake) tax debt. The ATO warns that these scammers may intend to steal not only your money, but also your identity by using your personal information.

 

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