Naughty vs Nice expense claims … Ho, Ho, Ho!

Before we all go on holidays, let’s talk about the “naughty” expenses the ATO finds on submitted tax returns.

Expenses placed on the ATO’s “Naughty” list
When you prepare your own tax return, you run the risk of claiming inappropriate deductions. This slows receipt of any refunds you may be entitled to and places you at risk of further ATO scrutiny. Here’s some of the more outrageous expense claims the ATO has rejected.

  • Giving their mother a car is very generous but it’s not a tax deductible expense
  • Lego sets purchased as gifts for their children are not the same as gifts purchased for clients, staff and suppliers.
  • Dental expenses because “a nice smile is essential to finding a job” won’t be accepted
  • Purchasing sporting equipment and membership fees for “athletic” children will be refused
  • Wedding reception costs can be huge but they aren’t a tax deductible expense
  • Several sleep deprived parents tried to claim:
    • Raising twins
    • The cost of raising 3 children
    • New born baby expenses
    • School uniforms for their children

Expenses placed on the ATO’s “Nice” list
There are all sorts of rules around the expenses you can claim as a tax deduction and our job is to find as many legitimate ones for you as possible.

No-one wants to be on the ATO Naughty List so let us help you with your tax returns and BAS. For straight-forward, practical accounting, taxation and financial advice contact our knowledgeable team at SVA and WPA by calling 02 8850 0388

Spring clean your finances

“Failing to plan is the same as planning to fail.” In life and in business, if we don’t set goals or review our finances, we will never achieve our dreams. Trouble is, it can be difficult to set aside time to think about what we want or track where our money goes.

But if you don’t take time now, things won’t change. In fact, you run the risk of things getting worse. So here are our 4 steps to help you spring clean your finances.

Step 1: What would you like to achieve?
This could be retiring at a certain age, taking a special holiday, purchasing a home or investment property, even buying your dream car. It doesn’t matter if you set just 1 goal or 20. Having goals gives your life direction and focus which leads to achieving those goals.

Step 2: Do the “how” and the “when”
The next step is working out how you are going achieve your goals and setting realistic timeframes for achieving them (that’s the “when”). As financial planners, we can help you with this step.

Step 3: Track your money trail
Do you review your credit card bill and direct debits each month? The Sydney Morning Herald recently quoted a survey that found 3 in 5 Australians are paying for services or subscriptions they had forgotten about. This demonstrates you could instantly save money by checking if you are paying for things you don’t want.

Step 4: Look at your budget
ASIC Money Smart has a very simple to use budget planner. It will help you identify your income against your regular expenses on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. Once the information is entered, you can modify the figures to explore how small changes to your spending can help you achieve your goals.

Here to help you achieve your goals
If you’d like to achieve your goals faster, we’re here to help. We begin by looking at where you are now and where you want to be. Then we help you get there.

For guidance on how to achieve your financial and lifestyle goals, talk to us.

For straight-forward, practical financial, accounting and taxation advice
contact our knowledgeable team at SVA and WPA by calling 02 8850 0388.

Big or small – what will you do with your tax refund?

Around 84% of all Australian taxpayers lodge their return on time and this year, the tax cuts have seen many people rushing to submit their returns to enjoy their refund early.

Sadly, around 16% of Australian taxpayers won’t receive a refund. But for the rest, it’s time to start thinking about how we want to use our refund.

Here are some options for you to consider.

1. Make a larger payment on your credit card
Australians have a whopping $45 Billion in credit card debt and with their high interest charges, it can be hard to paid off your card. For example, if you have a credit card debt of $2000 and only make the minimum payment each month, it will take you approximately 17 years to repay. So using your tax refund to make an additional credit card payment is a wise decision.

2. Make an additional payment on your mortgage or investment property
Housing costs in Australia – particularly Sydney – are high and with such large mortgages, it may seem pointless to make a one-off additional payment. However, it will help to reduce the overall interest you will pay on your loan so it’s a great way to spend your tax refund.

3. Invest in education
Whether it’s to improve your own career prospects or that of your children, putting your tax refund towards vocational or tertiary training could be worthwhile.

4. A super-duper contribution
With the benefit of compound interest, using your tax refund to make an additional super contribution is a long term investment that will reward you in the future.

5. Saving for the future
Every now and again, we all need to access money for expected and unexpected expenses. It might be to replace an aging appliance (such as a fridge or washing machine), pay for major repairs to our car, cover large medical bills or helping our kids buy their first home or car. So saving some or all of your tax refund now could be a real bonus in the future.

6. Splurging!
So we’ve given you the sensible, practical options but the reality is, 10% of Australians will use their tax refund as a reward. They put it towards holidays, engagement rings, weddings, parties and shopping sprees. While there’s nothing wrong with this option, our advice is always to pay down your debts first. So if you are feeling the pull between having fun with your refund or doing something sensible, why don’t you compromise and split your refund in half so you can do both.

How will you spend your tax refund?
There’s no point dreaming about how you will spend your refund if you haven’t lodged your tax return yet. To ensure you receive all of your eligible deductions, talk to us.

For straight-forward, practical accounting, taxation and financial advice
contact our knowledgeable team at SVA and WPA by calling 02 8850 0388.

Tax Tips

For investment properties
If you own a residential investment property, you can’t claim travel expenses as a tax deduction unless you are in the business of letting rental properties. To be considered “in the business of letting rental properties”, you need to be a:

  • Corporate tax entity (e.g. a company)
  • Public unit trust
  • Managed investment trust

If you have an investment property, talk to us and we will help you work out all your eligible deductions.

For small business
The ATO has identified 3 common mistakes small business owners make when lodging their tax return:

Mistake 1: Failing to report all of your income.

Mistake 2: Failing to have records to prove expense claims.

Mistake 3: Claiming private expenses as business expenses.

It’s always easier to lodge a correct tax return than trying to correct a mistake once it’s been submitted. So if you usually prepare your own tax return, save yourself the burden this year. Talk to us because we’ll make the whole process simple, efficient and accurate.

For Individuals
Take advantage of our 2019 Tax Return Checklist so you don’t forget a thing. Download it from our Home page by clicking on the clipboard located under the banner.

For straight-forward, practical accounting, taxation and financial advice
contact our knowledgeable team at SVA and WPA by calling 02 8850 0388

What’s better?

We look at the 2 different schools of thought on retirement savings

It’s reported Albert Einstein called compound interest “the eighth wonder of the world”. When it comes to your retirement, compound interest is the secret sauce that takes regular weekly savings and turns them into extraordinary sums of money.

But what’s better – saving small amounts over a long period? Or saving larger sums over a shorter timeframe?

Well, we’ve done the maths for you and here are the results. But first, the assumptions:

Assumption 1: The rate of return used is after deducting fees, tax and charges.

Assumption 2: All projections are expressed in 2019 dollars.

Assumption 3: Inflation has not been considered.

Assumption 4: The rate of return has been calculated at 10% per annum.
(Please note: 10% is a conservative return figure. Between 1900-2017, the All Ordinaries Index of the Australian Stock Exchange generated an average rate of return of 13.2% per annum.)

Strategy 1: Smaller amounts over longer time
If you start placing $100 each week into your super fund at age 25 and continue to do so until you are 65, with compound interest, your savings will have grown to $2,740,434. But importantly, you have only contributed $208,000. The difference has been generated by compound interest.

Strategy 2: Larger amounts over less time
If you place $200 each week into your super fund but begin when you are 45yo, you will have contributed the same amount of money. However, by 65 your savings will have grown to $658,120. That’s a significant difference when compared to the first strategy.

It’s never too early or too late
When you begin your career or start a family, it can be difficult to find any spare cash to contribute to your retirement savings. So the important message from these examples is doing something at any age will always be better than doing nothing.

At WPA, our focus is always on you!

  • Where are you now?
  • Where do you want to be?
  • How do you get there?

For straight-forward, practical financial, accounting and taxation advice
contact our knowledgeable team at WPA and SVA by calling 02 8850 0388.

Get tax time ready!

Everyone wants a tax refund so what you do in the next couple of weeks will affect the tax you will pay and any possibility of receiving a tax refund.

Here’s what you need to do to get tax time ready:

  1. Collate all your income records. This includes the amount of money you received from your employer or sales (if you are self-employed), super or pension.
  2. Ensure you have all your bank statements ready to show the interest income earned and the charges paid.
  3. Collect all dividend and distribution records if you have shares.
  4. Gather together all records of investments purchased or sold to calculate any capital gains or losses.
  5. If you have investment properties, organise your rental income statements and any expenses incurred (including interest paid on the loan).
  6. You will also need your private health insurance policy details.
  7. If you earn income overseas or participate in the shared economy e.g. Uber or Airbnb, you will need to report any income earned throughout the past financial year.

Working out your deductions – this is where we can help you.

If you are self-employed or an employee, there may be a number of expenses you can claim as a tax deduction.

For owners of investment properties, you can claim expenses such as:

  • Agent fees and charges
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Insurance
  • Rates and strata fees
  • Pest control
  • Advertising for new tenants etc.

Don’t forget to check your super contributions

If you won’t reach your concessional contributions cap of $25,000 (which includes your employer’s contributions and any salary sacrifice amounts), consider topping up the shortfall. Personal contributions can be claimed as a tax deduction.

But don’t wait until the last minute to make this payment as processing times can vary and may fall into next financial year.

If you earn less than $52,697, take advantage of the government’s co-contribution. It follows a sliding scale depending on your annual income, with the government contributing additional funds to your super policy if you qualify as a low income earner.

Insurance and your super account

From 1 July, your super fund is entitled to cancel your life insurance policy if you fail to make any contributions in the previous 16 months. If you wish to maintain your super insurance cover, you will need to ensure your account remains active. We can help you work out what to do so give us a call.

Whether it’s preparing your tax return and BAS or guiding you through your investment options, we are here to help you.


For straight-forward, practical accounting, taxation and financial advice
contact our knowledgeable team at SVA and WPA by calling 02 8850 0388.

Payment Summaries – What employees need to expect

STP or Single Touch Payroll has gradually been rolled out over the past few years. From 1 July, all businesses with a payroll will need to be using STP software.

If your business has not yet adopted STP, you will need to provide all employees with a Payment Summary by 14 July. But this will be the last time you will need to do this. From July 1, all information on an employee’s income, tax and superannuation will be available on the individual’s MyGov account.

If this is the first year your business has adopted STP, you will need to advise your employees that they can access their Income Statement from their MyGov account from 31 July. As the employer, that gives you 31 days to mark their Income Statement as “Tax Ready”.


If you are an employer and you have not yet prepared for STP, you need to call us urgently on 02 8850 0388.

Instant Asset Write-off Changes

The recent changes to the Instant Asset Write-off have complicated things for this financial year but for many clients, the changes will provide a great addition to their tax planning strategy. Here are the new rules:

  1. Businesses with a turnover less than $50 million are now included in the Instant Asset Write-off rules.
  2. Assets purchased and installed (or first used) from 7.30pm (AEDT) on 2 April 2019 – 30 June 2019 are included. These assets can be new or used.
  3. A deduction of up to $30,000 for the business portion of each asset qualifies for the Instant Asset Write-off.
  4. Businesses with a turnover under $10 million can also claim a deduction for each asset purchased and used (or installed) within various thresholds. This part is complicated so it’s best to call us for specific advice.

Making the most of the new Instant Asset Write-off changes can form part of a clever tax minimisation strategy – but only if it’s well thought out and funded. So talk to us first.


For straight-forward, practical accounting, taxation and financial advice
contact our knowledgeable team at SVA and WPA by calling 02 8850 0388.

Gauging the strength of your business

The end of financial year is only a few months away and as specialist SME accountants, we have begun discussing tax planning strategies with our clients.

The ATO is also getting busy, recently releasing their latest industry benchmark data. This data is extremely useful for any small business owner as it allows you to gauge the strength of your business.

The data compares the financial results of over 1.5 million small Australian businesses and lets you evaluate how your business is going compared to others in your industry.

If your business is operating below these benchmarks, we can discuss ways you could improve the performance of your business.

Not all industries are included yet but every year, the ATO increases the number of industries in its benchmark data. So far they have developed benchmarks for over 100 industries including:

  • Accommodation & food
  • Architectural services
  • Automotive electrical services
  • Building & construction trades
  • Education, training, recreation & support services
  • Health care & personal services
  • Machinery & equipment maintenance/repair
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Transport, postal & warehousing
  • Veterinary services

To see the ATO’s industry benchmarks click here. For specific advice on how your business can achieve and exceed these benchmarks, contact us to arrange an appointment.


For straight-forward, practical accounting, taxation and financial advice
contact our knowledgeable team at SVA and WPA by calling 02 8850 0388.