It is nearly that time of year again in terms of tax preparation with 30 June approaching. Are you more organised than you have been in the past or is this something you are dreading having to do?
One of the main reasons many people delay filing their taxes is that they are disorganised. They don’t know where all the information is and they are not really sure what they actually need. People dread having to search and process information and thus put it off as long as they possibly can. It really doesn’t have to be that big a deal and it just requires you to have a designated system that you follow every year. Don’t let the paper clutter and the process of finding the information overwhelm you!
I recently discussed tax time preparation with Stacey Price from Healthy Business Finances and between the two of us we hope these 10 tips assist you no matter what stage of organisation or disorganisation you are at when it comes to tax time!
- Address details – consider if you have moved address during the year. You don’t want your annual payment summary from your employer to be posted to the wrong address. This is also really important if you have changed jobs during the year – let your previous employer know where to send your payment summary.
- Bank accounts – usually on your last statement for the financial year the bank accounts will tell you your interest earned. You don’t need to give your tax accountant every single statement for the year – but that final one is important.
- Health insurance statement – you will need your annual health statement for your tax return. Most funds email them out – so again, check they have the right details.
- Email and manual tax folders – we suggest starting a folder in your email directory called “tax 2015 financial year” – that way when you receive receipts, statements, payment summaries – they are all stored in the one spot and easily found. You can also set up a manual one if you haven’t already. This is then something you should start for the next financial year too.
- Rental Property – if you use a rental agent, they should provide you with a statement detailing your income and expenses for the property for the year. This annual statement is gold and will form part of your tax return.
- Dividends – if you own shares, during the year you may receive dividends. Often by the time tax time comes around the fiddly dividend pieces of paper can be filed anywhere! If you struggle to keep the paperwork in order, then I suggest printing statements from your share provider – such as computershare or investor centre – wherever the shares are held. Then you can just print out a yearly summary.
- Tax Deductions – do you need a way to capture small receipts during the year that are tax deductions? Usually the biggest ones are for donations ie daffodil day pens, ANZAC poppies – a few dollars here and there soon add up but the receipts are nowhere to be seen. One way is to take photos of them on your phone, email them to yourself and save the email in the directory you setup in your inbox called “Tax 2015 financial year”.
- Don’t know what you need – then it might be time to pull out last years tax return as a refresher. As a result of this you might like to put together a checklist of all the documents you might need. If you do this then save it in your tax folder either manual or electronic.
- Storing tax information – only keep the documents of the current year and the previous year close to where you work. Reduce the amount of paper and files by putting previous years tax information elsewhere in your home, labeled appropriately. If you are not sure what needs to be saved and for how long then please ask your accountant or visit the ATO so you know!
- Destroying tax information – You don’t need to keep all your information for ever and once you understand how long you must hold onto records for you can then destroy older information and can then do this on a yearly basis by destroying the relevant year.
One final point is that individuals can now lodge tax returns via MYGOV (ATO free service) so if you don’t already have a MYGOV account, it might be good to set that up before tax time to avoid any issues with connecting it all up and passwords when things get hectic.
You may need to invest some time to get on top of this but there is an upside – the more organised you can be the more likelihood of you completing your taxes on time and with less stress. Who knows in the future you may then not dread this task that we all must do!
If after reading these tips you still feel you would like some help please contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org and I can assist you to get the information better organised. If however it is financial assistance or lodgement advice you need then please contact Stacey – email@example.com.