What New Rules Do You Need To Know For Your 2011 Tax Return?

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Each year, there are new Australian taxation rules that can decrease (or occasionally increase) how much you owe the taxman when the financial year ends. Here are the big changes that may affect you in 2011 (and beyond).

We’ve already pointed out that certain occupations will be singled out for special scrutiny, part of an annual programme where the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) picks particular jobs to scrutinise. Regardless of your job, however, some of the options listed below are likely to impact you.

Flood levy

Helping Queensland recover from the devastating January floods is, understandably, an expensive business, so a flood levy is being imposed on taxpayers who earn over $50,000 for the 2011-2012 financial year. This means that it won’t have any effect on your next tax return — worth emphasising given all the discussion of the levy already — but will come into play the following year.

If you’re a salary and wage earner, these payments should be automatically deducted from your pay starting in July. There are also exemptions for people impacted by the floods; the ATO site has full details.

Charity deductions

Donations made to ‘charity buckets’ can be claimed without a receipt if they are under $10. For all other charity-related deductions, you’ll need a receipt.

Expense deductions for students and jobseekers

We recently noted that students receiving Austudy can make deduction claims from previous tax returns, and that currently appears to be OK for 2010-2011 (though in all probability not for years after that, when the laws will be changed). In a similar vein, people receiving Newstart allowances can now claim travel to job interviews, phone calls relating to seeking work and training courses.

Extra pay day can impact your super

2010-2011 has an extra pay day compared to most typical years. That can affect the total of your superannuation contributions, which could mean that you go over the limit after which extra super contributions aren’t tax-exempt. The ATO site has a post on the issue.

As ever, this isn’t a substitute for professional advice. However, if you are paying an accountant or other tax advisor (and statistics suggest most of us are), make sure they factor these developments in.

Lifehacker’s weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.

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