A former accountant to the late Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer gives his top tips every Aussie should know to avoid being a ‘victim’ at tax time.
Chartered accountant Alan Mason worked with billionaire Kerry Packer on his merged Press Holdings company.
The director of Encore Accounting and author of ‘Tax Secrets of the Rich’ told Daily Mail Australia his book contains ‘truth nuggets’ the ATO doesn’t want taxpayers to know.
‘Only two things are certain in life, death and taxes. Well, I’ve been doing this for 40 years and I can tell you death is certain but taxes are not,’ Mr Mason said.
‘The bottom line is everyone says, the more money I make, the more tax I pay, and that’s not entirely true.
The accountant says he’s on a mission to debunk tax myths so average Aussies can keep more money in their pockets.
‘Perhaps there are many things you can do or should try to do,’ said Mason.
‘I’d say a good 10 to 20 per cent of taxpayers fail to claim things they’re entitled to claim because they’re either lax or they don’t know and people miss out because of that.’
Alan Mason (pictured), director of Encore Accounting and author of ‘Tax Secrets of the Rich’, reveals his tax tips for Aussies leading up to the end of the financial year. Mr Mason said he wanted Aussies to be ‘educated’ so they could avoid being ‘victimized’ by the tax
With more than 40 years’ experience, Mr Mason wants Aussies to be ‘educated’ and not victimized at tax time.
‘How can the average person expect to understand tax law?’ Mr. Mason Dr.
‘It is complex and contains 100,000 pages of legislation. If you stack the pages on the floor, it will go from floor to ceiling.
‘Every year thousands of taxpayers claim what they are entitled to claim. They could have restructured their affairs before June 30 to wipe out a huge tax bill.
‘Planning matters. Be self-educated. to occupy. Buy my new book and read it. It’s an easy read.’
He explained that most expenses incurred by an employee or business are deductible if they are related to earning income.
‘You’re going to make more money while trying to make a good living and you want to keep it and not pay half of it to the tax office,’ Mr Mason said.
‘Use it for your family Use it for a charity of your choice. Use it to help the less fortunate of your choosing before the government makes that choice for you.’
Mr. Mason’s top tips for employees and business owners to avoid falling victim at tax time.
Mr Mason advised employees and business owners to keep a diary while working from home as they could claim up to 67 cents an hour (stock image, woman working from home)
1. Keep a diary while working from home
From the 2022-23 income year, they have two methods available for calculating the work from home deduction – the actual cost method and the revised fixed rate method of 67 cents per hour.
Mr Mason explained the revised fixed rate regime, which was instituted on March 1 this year, does not require a dedicated home office space for an individual.
Those who work from home can claim a portion of the depreciation on depreciable assets including electricity, gas, phone and internet, as well as computer consumables, fixed and office furniture and technology.
‘Don’t forget to keep a diary of the hours you spend working from home. Add them up because you are entitled to claim 67 cents an hour,’ Mr Mason said.
‘That money is better in your pocket than the tax office.’
2. Attend a course, seminar or workshop
Mr Mason explained that a person can claim a deduction for the cost of attending seminars, conferences or training courses that maintain or enhance knowledge, abilities or skills necessary to earn income in their current employment.
‘If you’re a writer, and you attend a brick-laying course that doesn’t help, you can’t get a discount on that,’ Mr Mason said.
‘Attend some seminars or courses designed to improve yourself in your craft. This is deductible
People do it all the time, they go to things and learn and sometimes the fact that it’s just on the beach in surfers paradise is an added bonus.’
Mr Mason added that a person can claim many expenses while attending a course, including registration costs, fares to and from the venue if it is held at a location other than the usual workplace and accommodation and meals during the stay.
Another tip for Aussies was to record the kilometers they travel between work offices and work sites. Mr Mason added that workers riding camels and carrying heavy equipment could claim the kilometers they traveled (stock image)
3. Claim travel expenses
Mr Mason suggests general rules for claiming travel expenses if a business owner or employee travels for business purposes.
Although travel between home and work cannot be excluded, travel between office space and worksite may be claimed.
He recommends everyone to keep a travel diary recording the kilometers traveled each day.
‘The Tax Office will not allow you to claim travel from home to work but will allow any type of travel from one office to another,’ Mr Mason said.
‘If you go to the bank on your way to the office, pick up some equipment or you have a ute and need to carry heavy equipment, it allows you to.
‘That kilometer can be deducted. So, keep a record of your kilometers and claim it.’
4. Buy any items needed for work
A person can claim the cost of items including equipment, computer, internet, stationery, books, bags, office furniture and the cost of insurance and repair of certain items as long as they are used for work.
Mr. Mason explained that workers should think about the items they need and try to buy them in June.
‘Buy it in June and you’ll get a tax break this year. If you buy on the first of July, you won’t get it until 2024. So you want to bring us forward,’ Mr Mason said.
‘You want to make sure you need that piece of equipment because you’re saving 47 cents but you’re paying 53 cents. So the benefit is a little less than half of what you spend.’
Mr Mason advised Aussies to check their super contributions and top-up checks if the exemption cap is not maxed out (stock image, woman transferring bank)
5. Check if you have maxed out your super contributions
Mr. Mason explained that if an individual has a total superannuation balance of less than $500,000 from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2022, they may be entitled to make contributions above the general exemption contribution cap and make additional exemption contributions for any unused amount.
He added that in the first year an individual would be entitled to carry forward the unutilized amounts in the financial year 2019-20. Unused amounts are available for a maximum of five years, after which they expire.
‘You can go to MyGov and you can see how much super you’ve paid in previous years,’ said Mr Mason.
‘So if you have an exemption limit of 27,500 and you’ve only put away $10,000 in the last few years. You realize you have some extra cash so you can top it up with another $7,500 that you missed out on in previous years and put it into super.’
‘You get a tax break for it and the money in your account is looked after by someone else until you retire.’
6. Consider paying a full year’s interest on an investment property to avoid capital gains tax
Mr. Mason explained that this tip is for people who have multiple investment properties.
If an individual sells an investment property, they are subject to a capital gains tax – the tax that an individual pays on the gain.
Mr Mason said if you sell an investment property and make a profit, consider using that profit to pay the interest on another investment property.
Thus, a person avoids paying tax on their profits.
7. If a business loss is recorded, you can get back the tax payable using the prepayment rule
This tip applies to individuals who run a business through a company.
If a business has recorded a loss in the current financial year, an individual can use the prepayment rule to get a refund for the tax they paid when the company recorded a profit in the previous year.
‘If you run your business through a company and you are in a loss situation this year, which there are many, have you paid tax in the previous year like 2020? Then maximize that loss using the prepayment rule,’ Mr Mason said.
Mr Mason explained that a person can carry the ‘loss’ back to a previous year and get a refund of the tax paid.
He advises business owners to come up with a strategy and use the prepayment rule to their advantage.
‘Many business owners miss this. If you are in profit, increase prepayment rules again, bring forward any repairs, defer any income (not starting new work until July 1st). Look at your numbers and plan a strategy,’ Mr Mason said.
Mr Mason was the former accountant of the late Kerry Packer (pictured). He blamed the Australian media tycoon for telling him he would never accept the ‘status quo’.
Mr Mason credits the late Kerry Packer with influencing his attitude towards taxation and teaching him never to accept the ‘status quo’.
‘[He was] Very, very helpful and very respectful even though you may hear the opposite. He makes you think about things and he really gets to the core of exactly what needs to be done and how to manage something,’ Mr Mason said.
‘I learned in those days what has led me to this day is not to accept the status quo, to dig and see if there is a solution. You have to pay and shut up not to accept it.’
Mr Mason said his book ‘Tax Secrets of the Rich’ is available nationally.
Tax Claims for Australians
Australians can start filing their tax returns after June 30 and do so until October 31.
Below is a list of 10 ways employees can make the most of their tax returns
1. Work bag
Residents can claim back money spent on a bag as long as it is primarily used to carry work supplies between their home and office.
Drivers can keep a logbook of the kilometers they travel and should keep receipts for any expenses, including food and accommodation.
Employees who have to drive a lot can also claim it on their tax returns
3. Career and Industry Guidelines
Workers are told to check the occupation and industry guidelines set by the ATO to find out what items they can claim in their industry.
4. Work from home expenses
5. Pre-paid expenses for investment property
Homeowners with an investment property should pay their strata fee or insurance upfront to reduce the amount they can claim next year.
6. Self-learning component
Employees may also receive a refund if they purchase any materials to further their education in their industry. These include books, magazines and newspapers.
7. Union Fees
Workers can claim back any fees they have paid to be represented by a union.
8. Super contribution
Australians can make a one-off payment to their super from their after-tax savings at the end of the financial year.
9. Charitable donations
Residents can claim back money donated to charity.
10. Invest in a company name
Investing money under company structure to save 17 percent of your investment income.