The end of the financial year is almost upon us, so you'll soon be submitting your annual tax return. Here are the big changes from last year to be aware of.
Picture by Rupert Ganzer
The majority of Australians use a professional (either an accountant or a tax agent) to submit their tax return, and they should be across the major changes that impact your individual circumstances. But since you're ultimately responsible for the contents of your return, it makes sense to be across major developments. These are the main ones to be aware of (as with last year, there aren't terrible many):
Flood levy included: For the 2011-2012 financial year only, anyone who earns more than $50,000 will pay a flood levy of 0.5 cents for each dollar earned over $50,000; if you earn more than $100,000, you'll pay $250 plus 1 cent in each dollar over $100,000. If you're on a salary, this should have been automatically deducted. There are also exemptions for people who were affected by flooding; the ATO site has full details.
Education Tax Refund paid in advance: The Education Tax Refund was introduced in 2009 to cover stationery, textbook and computer expenses and extended to school uniforms last year. However, rather than being claimed through your tax return, it's now being paid to eligible families directly. Payments are due to be made between June 20 and 29, with up to $409 per primary school child and $818 per secondary school child. (Like the ETR, the newly-labelled Schoolkids Bonus is means-tested.)
TaxPack disappears: If you've stuck (perversely) with doing a paper return, note that the large single TaxPack brochure has been eliminated in favour of a streamlined set of individual tax return instructions and one basic supplement. If you need additional information for rarer circumstances, you'll have to hit the web. (But honestly, go electronic.)
Restrictions on dependent spouse tax offset: If you've claimed a tax offset for a dependent spouse in previous years, be aware that this is no longer available for anyone born after July 1 1971.
Before anyone gets into a carbon tax panic, remember that as those changes don't come until July, they will affect next year's tax return, not this one.
As ever, the Australian Taxation Office will be making its E-tax software available from July 1, and you'll be able to submit using either that or through your accountant or tax agent (once you have your payment summary from your employer and any other relevant documents). Don't forget to check the occupation guides to ensure you're claiming appropriate deductions.