Mildura Weekly : Friday July 4 Vol 8 No 35
www.milduraweekly.com.au 8 Mildura Weekly – 04/07/14 By VINNIE RODI WITH the end of the finan- cial year upon us, Mildura’s accountants are busily pre- paring for their most hectic time of the year. The next few months will see business owners and em- ployees alike flock to their accountants as part of the tax time rush, with lodging those all important tax returns a yearly highlight for most Mil- dura employees. It’s the time of year when (hopefully) those in the workforce reclaim a bit of ‘extra’ cash, with the Austra- lian Taxation Office recently releasing its ‘hit list’ of areas it will pay special attention to this year. In a break from tradition, the ATO is not focusing sole- ly on individual occupations, but also on specific types of work-related claims. This year its watch is on people who due to their oc- cupation claim a tax deduc- tion for using their computer, mobile phone or other per- sonal electronic device – any- where between 70 to 80 per- cent of Mildura’s tax payers according to Chan and Nay- lor Mildura accountant Toni Easterbrook, PICTURED. “Technology is one of those expenses that more people are claiming,” she said. “Everyone is using tech- nology in their working lives, so it makes sense that the ATO would be targeting that area. “Their main focus is on making sure people are get- ting the amounts they are claiming right, and not try- ing to claim too much or too little.” Ms Easterbrook said the ATO would be targeting workplace-related expenses in general this year, and en- couraged Mildura residents to be prepared when visiting their accountants over the next few months. “The ATO is always look- ing to crack down on peo- ple claiming too much – or claiming something outside of the norm,” she said. “If a journalist or trades- man was claiming phone- related expenses for example then that probably wouldn’t attract too much attention provided the proportion was in line with the ATO’s expec- tations. “They have done exten- sive work in capturing data relating to technology use, and will probably use that when going through claims. “Someone employed as a waiter for example wouldn’t claim technology as an ex- pense, because they don’t rely on their phone or per- sonal computer in their job. “If you’re in a profession where getting caught on your phone during work hours could cost you your job – then don’t claim it.” Ms Easterbrook said over- night and travel allowances were also on the ATO’s hit list, especially when it came to the trades sector. “The ATO is also focus- ing on work-related claims around travel expenses, and people who transfer bulky tools and equipment be- tween home and work,” she said. “Truck drivers for ex- ample are allowed to claim a certain amount when it comes to meals and accom- modation. “Again it’s a case of doing your research, and knowing or asking what you can and can’t claim. “All individuals have to do is back up their claims, which is why we encourage our clients to do their re- search in regards to what the ATO allows people to claim in their profession.” Mrs Easterbrook said preparation was the key when lodging a tax return. “Getting organised saves so much time,” she said. “It’s important to prepare all your receipts, and highlight which items you want to claim as expenses. “One of my tips is to put everything into categories, so technology in one pile, travel in another, and know what percentage of those costs you want to claim as expenses.” Ms Easterbrook said HECS/HELP debts were also a cause for confusion among former students. “Most people simply don’t understand how re- paying HECS/HELP debts works,” she said. “People think that be- cause their work is withhold- ing extra money to cover their HECS/HELP that it’s automatically being paid off. “Your HECS doesn’t actu- ally get paid until you lodge your tax return, and is based on a person’s taxable income, not their accessible income. “For example someone earning $52,000 a year may have paid $3000 worth of de- ductions, so they would only pay tax on $49,000 – which would put them under the current HECS/HELP thresh- old – and they would essen- tially get back all the money they had paid in that finan- cial year toward their HECS/ HELP debt. “Anyone confused about HECS/HELP can learn more by speaking to their accoun- tant.” More information about lodging a tax return, or what can and can’t be claimed across a number of profes- sions, is available by visiting www.ato.gov.au . ATO targeting technology-related expenses CHAN and Naylor Mildura account- ant Toni Easterbrook has dealt with a number of clients in her time, saying it never failed to amaze what people tried to claim on their tax returns. “I think every accountant has ex- perienced at least one of those mo- ments,” she said. “I had one lady ask if she could claim her new washing machine. “She was a working mum, and un- fortunately I had to say no.” Ms Easterbrook said one of the weirdest claims she had encountered was in relation to a guard dog. “There was one business that wanted to claim the expenses related to having a guard dog on the prem- ises,” she said. “They argued that the dog was there as security, not as a pet. “To my surprise the Australian Taxation Office allowed them to do it! “To this day that’s been one of the weirdest claims I’ve ever seen go through!” Are you sure I can’t claim this? THOUSANDS of police uniforms that have serviced the Mallee’s hundreds of dedicated police men and women in the line of duty are now entering a very different service - helping clothe those in need in countries including the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. The Rotary Club’s Donations in Kind Project takes the now supersed- ed pale blue Victoria Police uniforms, has them de-badged and packaged up ready to be sent away to help those less fortunate. Led in Sunraysia by the South Mil- dura Rotary Club, the mammoth task of taking all the badges and buttons from the Victoria Police uniforms was undertaken late last month by about 65 Rotary members and volunteers, who worked in shifts on a weekend to complete the task. About 50 cartons and bags full of police uniforms from officers through- out the Mallee were delivered to the team, who began the task of remov- ing every badge and button, by hand, from every pair of police-issue pants, shirts, jackets and jumpers. The uniforms were then neatly fold- ed, packaged and sent away in prepara- tion for their new owners. South Mildura Rotary Club presi- dent, Peter Danson, said the national Rotary Club Donations in Kind Project immediately struck a chord in Sunray- sia. “The Rotary Donations in Kind project ticked the boxes for our club, hence we decided to take it on and co- ordinate it up here,” Mr Danson said. “The old uniforms, rather than go- ing to waste, can be recycled once they have had their badges removed. They will be sent to places like the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea for use there.” South Mildura Rotary’s next break- fast meeting will be at the Rendezvous on Monday, July 7, from 7.15am to 8.30am. The Club says people inter- ested in learning more about Rotary are invited to attend. For more information contact Mr Danson, on 0428 696 269. The great ‘Rotary unpick’ for the needy • PICKED CLEAN: The mammoth task of unpicking thousands of buttons and badges from boxes of police uniforms continues for Rotary Club members and volunteers.
Friday June 27 Vol 8 No 34
Friday July 11 Vol 8 No 36