The end of the financial year is an anxious time for taxpayers, with many bewildered by the complexity of tax reporting and stressed by the amount of paperwork involved.
Image: June 30's just four days away, so it's time to rush. Picture: Getty Images
But if you treat it as an opportunity instead of a chore, it can be a chance to increase your tax refund with some last-minute action.
June 30 is just four days away, so here are some tips to help you grab a bigger slice back from the Australian Taxation Office.
Any purchases of work-related items such as tools or journals made before Friday can be claimed as a tax deduction from next week.
You can claim up to $300 (it's rising to $500 from 2012) of work-related expenses without the need to have written receipts.
However, once your claim exceeds $300 you must have receipts for the full amount.
With work-related car expenses, some people think that if they haven't kept a log book, they can't claim. However you can claim up to 5000km of work-related use based on a reasonable estimate of business kilometres, without needing to keep a log book.
Check your medical expense rebate after recent changes to the claiming limit and make use of the education tax refund but remember rebates differ for primary and secondary school students.
Investment property expense claims and prepaying interest on investment loans can boost this year's refund.
AMP financial planner Tony Rigby says many services that relate to maintenance and upkeep of investment properties can be claimed as a tax deduction.
"This includes expenses such as lawn mowing, pool maintenance and other similar costs," he says.
"Certain types of financial advice and other professional services received in relation to an investment property may also be tax deductible."
Advice and investment group Mercer says the end of financial year is a time to review your portfolio to ensure you balance out capital gains and losses.
Tax specialist and Wallmans Lawyers partner Stephen Heath says interest on investment loans can be paid 13 months in advance and claimed this financial year.
If you can defer any non-essential income until July, do it.
Aussies have become big savers in the past couple of years, but this means more of us will pay tax on our interest income, which is taxed at our marginal tax rate.
AMP's Rigby says there is a strategy for homeowners to reduce this potential bill.
"Instead of holding cash in savings accounts, it may be better for people to keep their money in a 100 per cent mortgage offset account," he says.
"As these offset accounts don't earn interest, no tax needs to be paid.
"By having the money offset against the mortgage, you will also reduce the interest paid on the loan."
Consider making a contribution to your dependant spouse's superannuation, which could provide you with a tax offset.
Self-employed people aged under 50 years can put up to $25,000 into their super fund and claim a tax deduction.
Those aged over 50 may be able to contribute up to $50,000. The money going into super is only taxed at 15 per cent rather than the person's marginal tax rate.
If you are a low or middle-income earner, you may be able to take advantage of the super co-contribution payment by making eligible personal super contributions to your super fund or retirement savings account.
The Federal Government will match up to $1000 of your personal super contributions.
Be careful with the timing of last-minute super contributions.
"Make sure that the super fund receives the contribution before July 1," Heath says.
"Otherwise it's a leap of faith that the trustee will record it as contributed before June 30."
Heath says people with self-managed super funds can look at making an off-market transfer of shares into their fund.
This may give them a tax deduction for super contributions plus crystallise some losses.
Michelle Smith, a financial adviser at Mercer, says the lead-up to June 30 often spurs people to get their finances in order and plan their future.
"But this shouldn't just mean filling out tax returns," she says.
"It's also important for people to review their superannuation entitlements and utilise opportunities to build up their wealth and minimise tax."
"Consider superannuation splitting. Splitting super contributions can be popular in the instance where a higher income-earning spouse or defacto salary-sacrifices contributions (or makes tax-deductible contributions) and then splits the contributions with the lower income-earning spouse," she says.
"The higher-income spouse gets the tax break and the other spouse gets a larger super benefit.
"Typically, there are two main advantages with the contribution-splitting strategy."
If you retire under 60 and take all or part of the super benefit as a lump sum, then each member of a couple can access their own tax-free threshold for lump sums (taxable component) of $160,000 (for the 2010/2011 tax year). If your partner is a few years older than you, then by splitting super contributions with an older spouse, they can access super benefits at an earlier stage.
The older partner also reaches 60 first, which means the result will be tax-free super benefits at an earlier time.
New small business owners seem to worry the most about tax. They fear being unable to understand GST and this is causing anxiety.
A total of 91 per cent reveal they do not have a thorough understanding of their annual tax obligations and 84 per cent admit they are unsure about what can be claimed as a business expense, a survey for American Express has found.
Jason Fryer, head of small business services at American Express, says most new business owners wonder at some stage if they have complied with the latest tax legislation and whether they will fall foul of the Australian Taxation Office if they make a mistake.
Tax expert and author Adrian Raftery says most small business owners want to know the likelihood of being audited.
As a rule, always keep business and personal expenses separate and use a dedicated business card.
These trusts, also known as discretionary trusts, can be set up to hold a family's assets or to conduct a family business.
Generally, they are established for asset protection or tax purposes.You can lose franking credits in some circumstances if a family trust election is not made.
In other words, if a family trust makes a family trust election and then pays income out to someone not included in the family group, the distribution will be taxed at the maximum rate possible.
The ATO is getting tough on family trusts this year, so MHM Chartered Accountants principal Bradley Conn advises that you contact your accountant before you do anything major such as buy a new car or computer.
"Discuss depreciation and deductions first, rather than after as many people do, as there may be alternate ways of doing things that would be beneficial from a tax point of view," he says.
"Most people tell their accountant after, when the horse has already bolted."
Do you dread tax time? Or do you have your own tips for making end of financial year more bearable?