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SBS Accountants & Advisors

25 Frequently Asked Questions

At SBS Accountants & Advisors we provide our clients with accurate and straightforward advice. Tax and accounting is complex and is fraught with costly mistakes if people don’t have the proper expertise. So instead of trying to figure all this out on your own, seek out the service with the expertise to help you. To learn more about this read our FAQs below.

1. How much do you charge?

A: The fee for a basic individual income tax return starts at $99.00. Please call us to confirm the cost, as sometimes it does depend on the complexity of the return and what is involved. If you have investments, own a rental property, or operate a business or any other tax entity, please call us for an estimate of cost for preparation.

2. Can you take my fee from my refund?

A: No, we do not provide this service.

3. Can you deposit my refund into my bank account?

A: Yes.

4. Do I have to lodge a return?

A: Each person's situation is different due to the age of the person, the income, and the type of income earned. If you are unsure, please call us to determine your obligation.

5. How long does it take for my refund to come back?

A: The ATO (Australian Taxation Office) advises all tax agents that they should expect their tax refunds in around 14 working days (under normal circumstances). There could be some circumstances which could hold up your refund, such as the how long it takes for the ATO to complete data matching with Centrelink. We do ask that clients not call us before at least 14 working days has lapsed.

6. How much refund will I get back?

A: The amount of the refund you will receive will depend on the amount of income earned, the allowable deductions against this income, any rebates you will be entitled to, and the amount of tax you have had taken out/paid to the ATO.

Once we have prepared your tax return, we will be able to let you know what your estimated refund will be. Sometimes, this estimated refund will change for unknown factors, such as child support debts.

7. I am behind in my tax returns. Can you prepare more than one year's return?

A: Yes we can.

8. Will I be penalised for lodging my returns late?

A: You may receive a late lodgement penalty, or if there is tax owing to the ATO, interest on outstanding amounts. The interest is tax deductible in later years. However, if you are receiving refunds, the ATO will more than likely owe you interest on outstanding refund amounts, and any penalties should be minimal. This interest will be required to be included in the next income tax return as income.

9. Do I get all my tax back if I only worked for a few months in the year?

A: No. The amount of tax we calculate is based on your income earned for the full financial year, regardless of whether or not that income was earned in 12 days or 12 months.

10. I am new to Australia and have to lodge a tax return. I have been told I will get all my tax back. Is that right?

A: No. As an Australian resident for tax purposes, you are entitled to a tax-free threshold of $18,200. When you enter Australia, your tax-free threshold is apportioned for the number of days from when you arrived in Australia to the 30th of June, thereby reducing your tax free threshold component, and also the low-income rebate if it applies.

11. I have lost my payment summary. What do I do?

A: Your first port of call is to go back to, or contact, the employer who issued the payment summary and ask for another copy. Employers are required to keep records for 5 years. If it is a payment summary for the past year, please be patient as this may take time for the employer to retrieve.

If you have no success, contact us, and we can correspond directly with the employer. You can also complete a statutory declaration detailing your income situation for the year in question.

12. I think my payment summary is wrong. What do I do?

A: If you believe that your payment summary is incorrect, contact the employer in question and request a detailed summary of the gross income earned and the tax paid for that year. If the employer has made a mistake, a new amended payment summary will be required to be issued to you, and to the tax office detailing the amendment.

13. I didn't keep any receipts. Can I still claim any tax deductions?

A: Under some minimal circumstances, receipts are not required to make a deduction. However, you must always be able to substantiate the claims you are making. In order to maximise your tax deductions, and ultimately your tax refund, we strongly recommend that all receipts for tax deductions be kept and brought with you at the time of preparing your tax return.

14. I received money from the government last year. Do I have to include this as income?

A: Some government payments are assessable income and are therefore required to be included on your income tax returns. Some payments received are exempt and therefore not required to be included in your returns. It is important that all assessable income be declared. If you are unsure of whether or not your government payment is assessable, please contact us.

15. My wife/partner does not work and I have children. Can I claim them on my return?

A: In years past, the ATO gave a spouse rebate for a nonworking partner/spouse. This has now been replaced with family tax benefits (FTB), which is issued by the Family Assistance Office. They base your family tax benefits on the income earned during that year. These claims are not made via your income tax return. Contact FAO for your claim.

16. How does the Senior Australian's Tax Offset affect me?

A: This is a tax offset for senior Australians and is used to reduce any tax liability and Medicare levy payment. In some circumstances, senior Australians may not have to lodge an income tax return.

17. What is the Medicare levy surcharge, and why do I have to pay it?

A: Medicare Levy is a tax based on 2% of your taxable income each year. Every Australian taxpayer is required to pay this levy. It is your income level that determines the amount of Medicare levy charged, not the health fund you are in.

18. Is the child support that I pay tax deductible?

A: No. It is not a tax deduction.

19. I received a dividend statement. What do I do with it?

A: All dividends received, and any interest received, is to be included as assessable income on your income tax return. Dividends that you did not physically receive, but instead chose to reinvest into more shares, are also to be included as assessable income on the year in which it is received.

20. I spent a lot of money this year on my business. Will I get it all back?

A: A refund may be issued to you only if you have actually paid tax during the year. If you have incurred expenses in running your business, and it is running at a loss for the year, the loss will be calculated and then carried forward to future years to be offset against any future profits you will make. The government will not reimburse you for your expenses and no refund will issue if no tax has been paid.

21. I have just bought a car for my tax. Will I get it as a tax deduction?

A: No. The rules relating to the claim of a motor vehicle are many and varied depending on the type of vehicle you have, and the type of work you do. If you have purchased a car for work related purposes, the cost of the vehicle is not 100% tax deductible. Instead, the vehicle is depreciated over the life of the car (basically over 8 years at 18.75%) from the date you purchased it to the 30th of June.

The depreciation of the car is apportioned based on the number of days you have owned it for the financial year. You also need to keep a log book for the mileage of the vehicle to be able to substantiate your claim that the car is being used for actual business as compared to private use. This log book must be kept for a minimum period of 13 consecutive weeks.

This work-related percentage, as calculated using your log book, is what you can claim of the related vehicle running costs (fuel, registration, insurance, and repairs).

22. My friends always talk about negative gearing. What is it?

A: Gearing refers to the process of borrowing money to invest. Negative gearing occurs when the expenses associated with an investment, including the interest on the money borrowed (on either shares or rental properties), are greater than the income generated from this investment.

This means that you are making an income loss on the investment, which is generally tax deductible. However, this may create a cash flow problem if you do not have sufficient other income to meet the interest costs. The benefit is that the tax loss acts as a deduction reducing your overall tax liability and thereby reducing the effect of the loss on your cash flow (by potentially increasing your tax refund).

The objective of this strategy is to have the long-term total return on the investment, including capital growth, be greater than the short-term income losses. However, if there is little or no capital growth in the investment, then you may be worse off than before you borrowed and invested the money.

There are a number of asset types which you can gear into. Property is the most popular. Always remember that gearing requires a long-term investment timeframe.

23. So if I buy a rental property, will I get the cost of the stamp duty as a tax deduction?

A: No, it is not deductible. Whilst it is a lot of money to pay the state government for the privilege of owning a property, the stamp duty charged on a property is attached to the purchase of it, and is added onto the cost of purchasing a property. It is a state-levied tax and not a federal one. When this property is sold down the track, then the cost of the stamp duty is taken into account when calculating the capital gains tax/loss of the property.

24. What is the difference between a refund and a rebate?

A: A refund is the excess of tax you have paid during the year being returned to you. Rebates are tax incentives used in order to reduce your income in order to maximise your tax refund to be returned to you.

25. What is your fee policy?

A: We do have a strict payment policy. Payment is required upon completion of your return, and we are unable to lodge any returns until our account has been settled in full. We accept credit cards.