Tax offset v tax deduction: What’s the difference?

This year’s Federal Budget was full of talk about one-off support for households in the form of tax offsets, but most people are a bit hazy on the difference between a tax offset and a tax deduction.

Both can help reduce the amount of tax you pay each year, but a tax offset generally results in a bigger dollar tax saving than a tax deduction of the same amount. The key difference is the point at which they are applied to your income when calculating the final amount of tax payable.

What is a tax deduction?

A tax deduction is one of the first things applied to your income when calculating your tax bill. It reduces your taxable income and hence the amount of tax you pay, potentially moving you into a lower tax bracket. Deductions are intended to ensure you only pay tax on income exceeding the costs associated with earning that income.

For a small business, deductions ensure it doesn’t pay tax if its running costs exceed its revenue. Common deductions include operating expenses such as stationery, and capital expenses such as equipment.

There are also temporary deductions, such as the additional 20 per cent deduction for costs related to digital adoption (like portable payment services and cyber security) and employee training expenditure announced in the 2022 Federal Budget.

Employees can claim deductions in a similar way. Personal deductions include work-related expenses like the cost of a computer if you have a home office, or supplies purchased for classroom use by a teacher. Other deductions include the cost of managing your tax affairs, donations and income protection insurance.

Offsets are similar but different

Tax offsets on the other hand, are deducted at the end of the calculation process and directly reduce the tax you pay.

Offsets are used by the government to encourage specific outcomes, such as uptake of health insurance through the Private Health Offset, or adding money to your spouse’s super through a contribution offset. They are also used to provide tax relief or financial support to certain groups in the community.

Calculating tax using offsets and deductions

The easiest way to understand the difference between an offset and a deduction is to walk through an example.

In the table below, we have two taxpayers. One person has an income of $30,000 a year paying tax of 19c on every dollar above the tax-free threshold of $18,200. This results in tax of $2,242 before any deductions or offsets. The other earns $130,000 a year, paying the top marginal tax rate of 37c in every dollar above $120,000, resulting in tax of $33,167.

As you can see in the table below, the impact of a $1,000 tax deduction provides a bigger tax saving of $370 for the higher income earner, compared with $190 for the lower income earner.

However, not only does a $1,000 tax offset provide both taxpayers with a bigger tax saving of $1,000 each, but it’s worth relatively more to the lower income earner at 3.3 per cent of $30,000 compared with less than one per cent of $130,000.

Impact of a $1,000 tax deduction and tax offset on tax owed

Assessable incomeTax owed$1,000 tax deduction$1,000 tax offset
Tax owedTax savedTax owedTax saved
$130,000$33,167$32,797$370$32,167$1,000
$30,000$2,242$2,052$190$1,242$1,000

Source (with updated figures for 2021-22 financial year): ANU Tax and Transfer Policy Institute Tax Fact #6

How tax offsets affect the tax you pay

Unlike tax deductions, the ATO automatically applies most offsets to your tax payable when you lodge your tax return.

In general, tax offsets can reduce your tax payable to zero, but they can’t be used to generate a tax refund if you don’t pay tax. If your taxable income is $18,200 or less, an offset won’t reduce the tax you pay as your tax payable is already zero. If you have paid any tax on this amount, you receive the tax back as a refund, but no offset is applied.

Also, most tax offsets don’t reduce the Medicare Levy and Medicare Levy Surcharge (if any) you are required to pay.

The amount of tax offset you receive also depends on the particular offset and your taxable income. For example, with the Low and Middle Income Tax Offset (LMITO) for 2021-22, if your taxable income is $37,0000 or less, you will receive a $675 offset on your tax payable when you lodge your tax return. If your income is $48,001 to $90,000, however, the offset is worth $1,500.

9 tips for improving your profits

There are many advantages to running a small business. You have the flexibility and independence to make your own decisions, you can turn your vision into a reality and then reap the rewards.

However, there are financial risks and it can be difficult to make a profit, particularly when times are tough and there is strong competition for customers’ dwindling dollars.

In fact, many small business owners are currently taking home less than the average full-time adult wage, according to the Small Business Matters report by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman.

If the way you have always run your business isn’t creating the returns you want, it may be time to try doing things differently.

There are lots of areas to explore to improve profits. The good news is that many don’t require extra expenditure, just a different way of doing things, or a new mindset about your core clients and products.

Here are nine ideas that could boost your profit margin and help improve the return you receive from all the hours you put into your business.

1. Go digital

Consider whether it’s time to add some digital solutions to improve the efficiencies within your business. Many manual tasks related to payroll, regulatory requirements and business reporting are ripe for automation. Introducing new software or technologies can see a big reduction in the time required to complete these necessary – but largely unprofitable – tasks within your business.

2. Understand your cash flow

Preparing a cash flow budget and automating your invoicing and collection processes can improve your cashflow and profits.

3. Collect what you’re owed

Taking steps to enhance your post-sale credit control may lose you a few customers, but these are usually the ones increasing your servicing costs by failing to pay on time.

4. Keep on top of essential reporting

Ensure all your business reports (such as BAS, Taxable Payments Annual Report, Single Touch Payroll and tax returns), are up-to-date and lodged online to save time and keep on top of your obligations. It’s also important not to forget your Super Guarantee records and payments, or you risk paying the Super Guarantee Charge.

5. Improve your visibility

Consider whether an enhanced social media presence could spread your message further. Check if your website and Google ranking are properly optimised. If Google cannot find you, potential customers are unlikely to know you exist.

6. Keep your customers close and sell them more

Think about the potential for selling more to your existing customers. Upselling – or the old ‘Would you like fries with that?’ – can add to your bottom line without the costs associated with finding and selling to new customers.

Check your customer ‘churn’ rate to identify how long customers stay with you. Experts estimate it costs between five to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one. Develop strategies to reduce your churn rate, as increasing retention rates by five per cent can increase profits by 25 to 95 per cent. i

7. Review pricing and products

Analyse your offer to see if unprofitable products need to be eliminated. Review your pricing by working out how much margin you need to cover your expenses and develop a pricing strategy.

8. Be ruthless about expenses

Audit your business expenses and identify any that can be eliminated or reduced by switching to cheaper suppliers or options (such as leasing and refinancing). Try negotiating if you are paying for recurring monthly services. Smarter spending on fixed costs is an easy way to gain extra dollars in profit.

9. Set aside time to plan ahead

Evaluate what is working in your business and what isn’t. Write a detailed business plan for the year ahead so you and your team know where you are headed and what is needed to get there. Consider outsourcing resource-intensive tasks (such as IT or marketing) to free up time so your employees can spend more time generating profits.

Call us today for some help with improving your business’s bottom line.

https://hbr.org/2014/10/the-value-of-keeping-the-right-customers

Financial wellbeing is a gift worth giving yourself

The festive season is a time of joy and celebration but, for some, it can also lead to a financial hangover in the New Year.

Overspending on gifts, parties, and decorations can quickly add-up, leaving us with unwanted debt in the New Year.

In 2022, Australians spent more than $66.7 billion during the pre-Christmas sales in preparation for the festive season. The rising cost of goods and services mean that even though many are trying to curb their spending, it is expected that we will spend a little extra this year.

5 ways to rein in Christmas spending

  1. Create a Christmas budget – A budget is an effective way of controlling spending. It may not sound like fun, but it helps you to understand what you would like to spend and how much debt you are prepared to live with. List all of the costs you can think of (gifts, decorations, food, travel and entertainment), then set limits for each category and stick to them diligently. Consider using budgeting apps or spreadsheets to track your expenses and ensure you stay on track.
  2. Embrace the spirit of giving – Instead of buying individual gifts for every family member or friend, organise a Kris Kringle or Secret Santa gift exchange. This not only reduces the financial burden for everyone, but it adds an element of surprise and excitement to the holiday festivities.
  3. Take advantage of sales and discounts – Begin your Christmas shopping early to take advantage of sales and discounts. Stockpiling non-perishable food items and other essentials before prices rise closer to Christmas can deliver big savings.
  4. Online shopping – You can often find better prices by shopping around online and various third-party websites offer cash back or rewards not available in store.
  5. DIY and personalised gifts – Tap into your creativity by making your own gifts. Handmade gifts can be a welcome and thoughtful way of giving. Consider creating homemade cards, photo albums, or baking treats for loved ones.

Tackle any debt now

With many household budgets feeling the pinch due to rising housing, power, petrol and other costs, debts may already be increasing. But if you are feeling burdened with debt, don’t decide to leave it until after Christmas. The time to tackle it is now before it gets out of hand.

One option to consider, is to consolidate your high interest debts into a single more manageable loan. This approach can simplify repayments and potentially reduce interest rates, making it easier to eliminate debt over time. But it is important to do your calculations carefully to make sure it is worthwhile for you and then to be vigilant about watching spending.

Another option is to take a cold, hard look at your expenses. Is there something that can be cut back, and that money diverted to repaying debt? Any reduction of your debt load will help, no matter how small. Some people like to implement the snowball method in tackling their debts: while continuing to make the minimum repayments on all your debts you pay a little extra on the smallest debt to pay it off faster. Getting rid of debts can help to inspire you to continue.

Taking control of Christmas spending and debt is crucial for starting the New Year on a positive financial note. So, start planning early, know what you can afford to spend and prioritise your financial wellbeing for a debt-free and stress-free holiday season.

If you are struggling with post-Christmas debt or need assistance to manage your finances, we are here to help. Contact our team of financial experts today to discuss strategies to regain control of your financial future. Make this Christmas season a time of joy and financial empowerment.

Pre-Christmas spending forecast to tread water as uncertainty looms for discretionary retailers | Australian Retailers Association

Making sure your deductions don’t get personal

It can be easy to overlook your personal use of business assets when it comes to completing your business and self managed super fund tax returns but be warned, the ATO is taking an interest in this area.

The ATO’s Small Business Random Enquiry Program found around 16 per cent of small businesses were either carelessly or deliberately overclaiming expenses in their tax returns.

If business assets are used for a mix of business and private use – such as vehicles and phones – the amount claimed must reflect only the business-related portion of the expense.

The ATO is urging taxpayers to remember this rule when claiming business-related deductions, including those for work-from-home expenses (such as internet and mobile phone usage), and work vehicles.

Rental properties under the spotlight

Holiday home rentals are also an area where many taxpayers are failing to follow the tax rules.

Deductions for holiday home expenses can only be claimed to the extent they relate to producing rental income, so you need to apportion your expenses if the property is only genuinely available for rent part of the year.

Apportionment is also required if you use the property for private purposes during the year, only use part of it to earn rent, or if it is used by family or friends at various times during the year.

Expenses relating solely to the rental of the property (such as agent commissions and advertising costs), don’t need to be apportioned.

Avoiding mistakes

To ensure you don’t invite attention from the ATO, review your treatment of business asset expenses annually, in case your private usage has changed.

New or additional private usage of the asset means you need to recalculate the percentage of business used to determine the correct deduction claim.

Proper business records explaining all relevant transactions (including payment to and receipts from employees, shareholders and associates) need to be kept to support your claims.

Common taxpayer errors

The ATO says there are some common errors when it comes to claiming deductions.

Taxpayers are not permitted to claim any deductions against business income for expenses relating to an asset entirely used for private purposes.

An example is an asset (such as a boat or plane) purchased and used for private purposes.

Deductions can only be claimed for the relevant percentage of business use. For example, if the private use component represents 60 per cent, only 40 per cent of the expense amount can be claimed in your return.

FBT and deemed dividends

Another common mistake is claiming a deduction for an asset giving rise to a deemed dividend. This arises when an asset is purchased through a company and used for private purposes by a company shareholder or their associates.

Under the tax rules, both the company and the dividend recipient must record such dividends in their income tax returns, as the asset is being used for their personal benefit.

Some small businesses also misunderstand the implications of purchasing an asset (such as a motor vehicle), that is used by an employee or the associate of an employee for personal purposes.

When this occurs, the benefit must be reported in the business’s fringe benefit tax (FBT) return and the resulting FBT liability paid.

Fixing lodgement mistakes

To avoid finding your business in the ATO’s spotlight, check you have correctly apportioned all expense claims before lodging your business or SMSF return.

You also need to consider whether the rules for private company benefits and FBT apply to any of your business assets. If you make a mistake with a deduction claim, you will need to amend or lodge an income tax or FBT return to correct your tax position. There are time limits on both business and super amendments.

We can help you to correct any mistakes and to deal with the ATO to ensure your tax reporting is smooth and worry-free.

Market movements and review video – December 2023

Stay up to date with what’s happened in markets and the Australian economy over the past month.

Consumer prices eased by more than expected in October. The news that inflation may have been tamed means interest rate rises may be behind us, for now.

Even the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is optimistic about our economic recovery, predicting rate cuts from late 2024.

The ASX200 regained most of its October losses through November. Hopes the US may be ceasing its interest rate hikes impacted investor sentiment, as did the better than expected inflation figures locally.

Click the video below to view our update.

Please get in touch if you’d like assistance with your personal financial situation.

Your guide for claiming business expenses

You can claim tax deductions for expenses you incur while running your business if they’re directly related to earning business income (also known as assessable income).

Take Rubi for example. Rubi is a sole trader who works as an IT consultant. As part of her work, she travels to deliver seminars and workshops.

Rubi follows the 3 golden rules for claiming a tax deduction when she travels for business purposes.

  1. The expense must be for her business, not for private use.
  2. If the expense is for a mix of business and private use, she can only claim the portion that is used for her business.
  3. She must have the records to prove it.

Rubi uses the myDeductions tool to store receipts of all her airfares, accommodation, public transport costs, ride-sharing fares, car hire fees and other costs such as fuel, tolls and car parking. She also records her meal costs if she’s away overnight.

Rubi also keeps a travel diary to note which expenses were for business purposes and which expenses were private, such as sight-seeing. The cost of her recent tour of the Tower of London is not included in her deductions. There are some expenses Rubi can’t claim, such as entertainment, traffic fines, and expenses related to earning non-assessable income.

As an employer, Rubi meets her superannuation and employer obligations by reporting her employees’ salaries or wages and paying any tax withheld amounts on time. This allows her to deduct the salaries, wages and super contributions she’s paid during the year.

By the time Rubi is ready to lodge her tax return, her tax agent has everything they need to verify her deductions.

Be like Rubi and perfect your record keeping to correctly claim your business expenses and make tax time easier.

To check your record keeping skills, you can use this record keeping evaluation tool.

Remember, we can help you with your tax and super.

Source: ato.gov.au August 2023
Reproduced with the permission of the Australian Tax Office. This article was originally published on https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/Small-business-newsroom/General/Your-guide-for-claiming-business-expenses/.
Important:
This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account.  It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, we do not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person. 
Any information provided by the author detailed above is separate and external to our business and our Licensee. Neither our business nor our Licensee takes any responsibility for any action or any service provided by the author. Any links have been provided with permission for information purposes only and will take you to external websites, which are not connected to our company in any way. Note: Our company does not endorse and is not responsible for the accuracy of the contents/information contained within the linked site(s) accessible from this page.

Market movements & review video – November 2023

Stay up to date with what’s happened in markets and the Australian economy over the past month.

October was a volatile month on the global stock markets and in Australia. The local sharemarket finished October down 3.8 per cent, representing a third straight month of losses.

Investor sentiment reflected heightened anxiety regarding inflationary pressures and uncertainty over rate rises, mixed economic data and concerns about the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Investors are continuing to keep a close eye on oil price movements over fears of an escalation of conflict in the Middle East.

Click the video below to view our update.

Please get in touch if you’d like assistance with your personal financial situation.

How a super recontribution strategy could improve your tax position

Withdrawing part of your superannuation fund balance then paying it back into the account, known as a recontribution strategy, may sound a little strange but it could deliver a number of benefits including reducing tax and helping to manage super balances between you and your spouse.

Your super is made up of tax-free and taxable components. The tax-free part generally consists of contributions on which you have already paid tax, such as your non-concessional contributions.

When this component is withdrawn or paid to an eligible beneficiary, there is no tax payable.

The taxable component generally consists of your concessional contributions, such as any salary sacrifice contributions or the Super Guarantee contributions your employers have made on your behalf.

You may need to pay tax on your taxable contributions depending on your age when you withdraw it, or if you leave it to a beneficiary who the tax laws consider is a non-tax dependant.

How recontribution strategies work

The main reason for implementing a recontribution strategy is to reduce the taxable component of your super and increase the tax-free component.

To do this, you withdraw a lump sum from your super account and pay any required tax on the withdrawal.

You then recontribute the money back into your account as a non-concessional contribution. If you withdraw this money from your account at a later date, you don’t pay any tax on it as your contribution was made from after-tax money.

The recontribution doesn’t necessarily have to be into your own super account. It can be contributed into your spouse’s super account, provided they meet the contribution rules.

To use a recontribution strategy you must be eligible to both withdraw a lump sum and recontribute the money into your account. In most cases this means you must be aged 59 to 74 and retired or have met a condition of release under the super rules.

Any recontribution into your account is still subject to the current contribution rules, your Total Super Balance and the annual contribution caps.

Benefits for your non-tax dependants

Recontributing your money into your super account may have valuable benefits when your super death benefit is paid to your beneficiaries.

A recontribution strategy is particularly important if the beneficiaries you have nominated to receive your death benefit are considered non-dependants for tax purposes. (The definition of a dependant is different for super and tax purposes.)

Recontribution strategies can be very helpful for estate planning, particularly if you intend to leave part of your super death benefit to someone who the tax law considers a non-tax dependant, such as an adult child.

Otherwise, when the taxable component is paid to them, they will pay a significant amount of the death benefit in tax. (Your spouse or any dependants aged under 18 are not required to pay tax on the payment.)

Some non-tax dependants face a tax rate of 32 per cent (including the Medicare levy) on a super death benefit, so a strategy to reduce the amount liable for this tax rate can be worthwhile.

By implementing a recontribution strategy to reduce the taxable component of your super benefit, you may be able to decrease – or even eliminate – the tax your non-tax dependant beneficiaries are required to pay.

Watch the contribution and withdrawal rules

Our retirement system has lots of complex tax and super rules governing how much you can put into super and when and how much you can withdraw.

Before you start a recontribution strategy, you need to check you will meet the eligibility rules both to withdraw the money and contribute it back into your super account.

If you would like more information about how a recontribution strategy could help your non-dependants save tax, give our office a call today.

Money saving tips for travel

Travelling cheaply needn’t mean you miss out. Find out the best ways to save big on your overseas holiday plans, and make the most of every dollar.

Why you should budget for your overseas holiday

Most of us love to travel, but not many can afford to travel as often as we’d like. A trip to Europe or the US might seem like it’s out of reach, but there are ways to rein in your travelling expenses and get to the places you love, more often.

Travelling on a budget doesn’t have to mean that you miss out. If you plan ahead, work out a budget (and stick to it), you can have a better, longer – and cheaper – holiday.

You may also want to consider our savings accounts and term deposit account which can earn interest against your deposits to help you get to your holiday savings goal.

Here are ten tips on how you can save money on your travels – and have a cheaper, better, longer holiday.

1. Fly for less

One of the few downsides to living in Australia is that you’re miles from anywhere. Getting much beyond Bali will cost you, but there are ways to reduce flight costs.

2. Avoid peak holiday times

Travelling at the height of the European summer, for example, not only costs more, it’ll mean half your holiday is spent in a queue.

3. Compare flights as well as airlines

Remember, the cost of a flight can vary a lot, depending on when and how you purchase it.

Check out flight comparison websites to get a good deal. If you do book through one of these sites, be sure to read the small print. Their change or cancellation policies might not be as flexible as you need and could cost you more than you save.

4. Find an inexpensive bed

Halve your accommodation costs and you might be able to travel for twice as long.

5. Consider homestays

Go into this with the right attitude—be generous and ready to share—and you could end up with a free roof over your head, a tour guide, and a lifelong friend all wrapped up in one.

6. Check out a house swap website

You’ll be surprised to know how many people from Tuscany are eager for a holiday in Tasmania.

If you’re a bit more adventurous or love the outdoors, try backpacking, (no longer just for the young) or camping.

7. Go somewhere, not so obvious

Paris. New York. London.

Of course, the great world cities will always be magnetic places, but there’s a whole world out there. How about Marseille? Portland? Manchester? Belo Horizonte? Naples?

8. Get off the beaten track

It’s quieter, cheaper, and often more ‘authentic’. So long as you don’t tell too many people.

9. Eat like a local

Your greatest cost after accommodation will be food. Take the opportunity to sample the local cuisine – and cook when you can.

10. Do your research before you leave home 

If you have a smartphone, get a good, cheap mobile data plan. Check out the public transport, perhaps download the transport apps for the cities you’re travelling to. Oh, and a free wi-fi finder app also might be worth getting.

Source: NAB

Reproduced with permission of National Australia Bank (‘NAB’). This article was originally published at https://www.nab.com.au/personal/life-moments/travel/money-saving-tips

National Australia Bank Limited. ABN 12 004 044 937 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 230686. The information contained in this article is intended to be of a general nature only. Any advice contained in this article has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any advice on this website, NAB recommends that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances.

© 2022 National Australia Bank Limited (“NAB”). All rights reserved.

Important:
Any information provided by the author detailed above is separate and external to our business and our Licensee. Neither our business nor our Licensee takes any responsibility for any action or any service provided by the author. Any links have been provided with permission for information purposes only and will take you to external websites, which are not connected to our company in any way. Note: Our company does not endorse and is not responsible for the accuracy of the contents/information contained within the linked site(s) accessible from this page.

Market movements & review video – October 2023

Stay up to date with what’s happened in Australian markets over the past month.

Household wealth has grown for the third quarter in a row, rising by 2.6% in the June quarter, pushed up by rising house prices and increases in super balances.