Wednesday, 31 July 2013

July 2013 in review

I approached my Millionaire on Heels spreadsheet with trepidation this month.  I was expecting bad things because of my large credit card payment for my holiday flowing through.  As expected, my cash balance decreased.  However, it was a low spend month otherwise, with no large bills and an intense schedule at my day job keeping me out of spending mischief.  And the sharemarket has bounced back a bit, leaving my super balance a lot higher.

The end result – a net $319 improvement in my financial position … in retrospective it was a good idea to postpone my work wardrobe update at the end of year sales!  I still have the items open on my browser and will take advantage of the sale prices in August.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Tax tips, part 6: work-related self-education expenses

Work-related self-education expenses have featured in the news recently due to the current Labor government’s decision to cap self-education expenses at $2,000 per annum in future years.  If the next Coalition government doesn’t reverse this decision (assuming the Coalition wins government at the next election …), it will make quite legitimate degrees vastly more expensive – e.g., MBAs.  It makes me glad I did my MBA a few years ago!

Work-related self-education expenses get entered into section D4 of your tax return.

What you can claim

You can claim a deduction for self-education expenses if your study is work-related or if you receive a taxable bonded scholarship.

These expenses relate to courses you undertake to obtain a formal qualification from a school, college, university, or other place of education (attending cushy conferences comes in section D5). 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Tax tips, part 5: work-related clothing, laundry, and dry-cleaning expenses

One of the benefits of moving from consulting into an industrial business is being able to claim a tax deduction on a uniform.  In our corporate office, we aren’t required to wear a uniform, but for visits to our operational facilities, I don my trusty blue shirt and work boots.  I could never understand why the consulting firms never issued a consulting uniform … an Armani suit and matching Italian shirt with the firm logo anyone?

Anyway, work-related clothing, laundry and dry-cleaning expenses are entered into section D3 on your tax return.

What you can claim

You can claim a deduction for the cost of purchasing or renting:
  • Occupation-specific clothing
  • Protective clothing
  • Unique, distinctive uniforms
You can also claim the costs of washing, drying, ironing, and/or dry-cleaning the eligible work clothes above.

To support your deduction you need to keep written evidence that you purchased the clothing and diary records or written evidence of your cleaning costs.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Tax tips, part 4: work-related travel expenses

Work-related travel expenses get entered into section D2 on your tax return.  It’s a catch-all for non-car vehicle expenses (e.g., motorcycles, trucks) and incidental travel expenses.

What you can claim

According to the ATO, you can claim the following work-related travel expenses:
  • Expenses for vehicles with a carrying capacity of one tonne or more, or nine or more passengers (e.g., utility trucks and panel vans)
  • Expenses for motorcycles
  • Short-term car hire
  • Public transport fares
  • Bridge and road tolls
  • Parking fees
  • Taxi fares
  • Petrol, oil, and repair costs relating to work-related travel you did in a car owned or leased by someone else
  • Meal, accommodation, and incidental expenses you incurred while away overnight for work – e.g., going to an interstate work conference

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Tax tips, part 3: work-related car expenses

Work-related car expenses get entered into section D1 on your tax return.  This is a reasonably complicated exercise the first time you have to do it, but over time it becomes pretty straightforward.

What you can claim

Work-related car expenses are expenses you incur in the course of performing your job.

You are able to claim the cost of trips between your home and your workplace if:
  • You used your car because you had to carry bulky tools or equipment that you used for work and could not leave at your workplace (for example, an extension ladder or cello)
  • Your home was a base of employment (that is, you started your work at home and travelled to a workplace to continue your work for the same employer)
  • You had shifting places of employment (that is, you regularly worked at more than one site each day before returning home)

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

IE8 is working again!

Well after all that effort in downloading a new browser, Google has fixed the problem with the text editor in IE8.  I can select and format text again without using the shortcut keys!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Time for a new browser ...

I've been trying to catch up with my planned updates to some of my older posts, so please be patient. 

This week it has been virtually impossible to use Blogger using IE8.  There is no way to select text for formatting in the text editor using a mouse.  I've had to revert to shortcut keys.  So posts like this with no section headings or bullet points are easy ... but the others are a nightmare!

I understand lots of other people are having the same issue, and Google is not willing to debug Blogger for IE8 anymore.

So I'm installing Chrome at the moment.  Hopefully I'll be able to use Blogger with that.

I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Tax tips, part 2: deductions overview

As the MoH is predominantly a PAYG employee, claiming my legitimate deductions is the best thing for me about tax time.

Today, I’ll provide an overview of:
  • The types of deductions you can claim as an individual in Australia
  • The basic rules about claiming deductions
Then, over the following days, I’ll discuss each category of deductions in more detail and provide some ideas on how you might be able to maximise your own deductions.

I’ll discuss small business deductions a bit later on.

Other good sources of information include the Australian Tax Office (ATO) at and your accountant or tax advisor.

Types of deductions you can claim

You may be able to claim deductions for work-related expenses, investment-related expenses, and a raft of other expenditure you may have incurred.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Tax tips, part 1: income for individuals

It is tax time in the MoH household. 

I have a time-tested routine to complete my tax return, developed over a number of years:
  • First I procrastinate. 
  • Next I do a quick first run-through of my return myself using e-Tax, filling in estimates where I don’t have the details to hand.  This gives me a tantalising idea of what my refund might be, which gets me motivated to scrape together all the missing statements, tax invoices, etc.!
  • Then I locate all the missing pieces and go through the return in detail reading the full set of instructions and seeing if there are any opportunities (particularly for deductions) that I have missed out on.
  • Finally I send off the return and await my refund!
Occasionally I need to seek professional advice.  Managing employment income and interest and dividends is pretty simple.  But when I had an investment property, and now when I’ve started a small business, there are lots of rules (and opportunities) that can warrant professional advice.

Friday, 5 July 2013

2013 mid-year performance review

Gulp … this is like having my mid-year performance review at work.  I’m feeling a bit queasy already.

Like with any good performance review, the best place to begin is by recapping my goals for the year.  I’ve opened up some of my January posts and unearthed my six financial resolutions for 2013:
  • Develop my $1 million by 2020 financial plan and successfully achieve the first year milestones
  • Open an online share trading account (at the moment I go through a broker) and execute at least five trades
  • Try at least one new savings tip a week from my blog
  • Develop a hobby to a point where it starts to turn a profit
  • Finalise the settlement on my mortgage refinance
  • Consolidate my last remaining “accidental” super account (The last time I consolidated super accounts, my last payment went into an old account and has been happily residing there ever since.  I need to transfer it before the new laws to transfer small balances to the ATO take effect.)

Monday, 1 July 2013

Upcoming July posts

Well it's the halfway point of the year, six months since the MoH set her financial goals for 2013. And I have to admit, I can't even recall most of them off the top of my head!

So I think it's time for a mid-year health check. There's nothing like having to write about your progress to prompt you into action. 

July is also one of my favourite months because it's TAX REFUND TIME!  I'm one of the arguably few people in the world who likes doing their tax return. I love going through my receipts and seeing what I can legitimately claim a refund for.  So what better topic to focus on this month than maximising your tax refund. 

Therefore, my plan for July posts includes:

1. Upcoming July posts
5. Mid-year performance review
9. Tax tips, part 1
13. Tax tips, part 2
17. Tax tips, part 3
21. Tax tips, part 4
25. Tax tips, part 5
28. Tax tips, part 6
31. July 2013 in review