EOFY planning tips: 3, 2, 1... Lift-off!

The period just before the end of the financial year is a great time to take stock. It allows you not only to look at what you have achieved throughout the year, but also see whether any fine-tuning can (or should) be made. This fine-tuning may help to, for example, minimise your tax liabilities and make the most of the money you earn.

Consequently, in this article, we discuss several end of financial planning tips you may wish to consider prior to 30 June. However, as always, whether they are appropriate for you will depend on your financial situation, goals and objectives. As such, please consider seeking professional advice before moving forward with any of the tips discussed below.

Contribute to superannuation
We are all familiar with the place (and purpose) that superannuation has in our lives, regardless of our level of engagement with it (i.e. a hands-on or a hands-off approach). Furthermore, despite the recent changes, superannuation remains a tax effective investment structure. As such, there are a few end of financial year planning tips worth noting.

Concessional contributions
Consider whether you have the ability to make further concessional contributions. While salary sacrifice is one way to make concessional contributions, the removal of the ‘10% test’ means that more employees will be eligible to make personal deductible contributions, which may be something worth considering before the end of financial year. These contributions will help you to not only reduce your personal income tax, but also accumulate wealth for retirement (and, if applicable, purchase your first home via the First Home Super Saver Scheme).

Please note: It’s important to understand your concessional contributions cap limit (which in 2017/2018 is $25,000 for all eligible to contribute), coupled with a careful assessment of all contributions you, your employer/s and others make on your behalf and the date that they were (or, are expected to be) received by your superannuation fund. Doing this will assist you to avoid a potential excess concessional contribution tax liability.

Non-concessional contributions
Consider whether you have the ability to make further non-concessional contributions to your superannuation fund before the end of the financial year. Whilst these contributions will not reduce your taxable income, they will help you to accumulate wealth for retirement (and, if applicable, as previously stated above, purchase your first home). Also, if you meet certain criteria, you may be entitled to the Government’s Co-Contribution.

In addition, if your spouse will have assessable income below $40,000, consider making non-concessional contributions to their superannuation fund. By doing this, you may be entitled to the Spouse Contributions Tax Offset, which will help you to not only reduce your tax bill, but also boost your spouse’s superannuation balance. Notably, this tax offset is now more accessible, since the income limit has increased (from $13,800 in 2016/2017).

End of financial year is also your last chance to transfer (or ‘split’) 85% of your previous financial year’s concessional contributions to your spouse’s superannuation (provided they have not yet met a retirement condition of release). If you made personal deductible contributions in 2016/2017, you will need to ensure you have lodged your notice to claim a tax deduction with your fund before requesting the super split.

Boosting your spouse’s super through spouse contributions and/or spouse super splitting may hold even greater significance now due to the limit imposed on individuals by the transfer balance cap, namely, a limit on the amount of superannuation that can be transferred from accumulation to retirement income phase.

Please note: It’s important to understand the implications of your total superannuation balance. For example, in terms of the non-concessional contributions cap limit and bring-forward rule, the Government Co-Contribution and the Spouse Contributions Tax Offset. Please consider seeking professional advice with regards to this as it can be a very complex area.

Pre-pay deductible interest or bring forward deductible expenses
If you have the cashflow available, and expect your income in the next financial year to be lower than this year’s, consider prepaying deductible interest or bringing forward deductible expenses. By doing this, you may find that you are able to reduce your taxable income.

Depending on your personal circumstances, areas where you may want to consider applying this can include, for example:

  • Income Protection insurance premiums.
  • Donations to charities, which are classified as ‘deductible gift recipient’ organisations.
  • Interest payments on investment loans for things such as property or shares.
  • Cost of repairs and maintenance to investment properties that are being rented out or available/advertised for rent.
  • Work-related expenses, such as car expenses, travel expenses, clothing, laundry and dry-cleaning expenses, as well as self-education expenses, home office expenses, telephone, computer, internet expenses, tools and equipment expenses.

Manage capital gains/losses
When it comes to the sale of an asset that triggers a capital gain or loss, careful consideration needs to be given from a tax planning perspective. Below are some things worth noting:

  • A capital gain will be assessable in the financial year that it’s crystalised. Consequently, deferring the sale of an asset with an expected capital gain until future financial years will defer the capital gain (and the applicable capital gains tax liability). This may be an appropriate consideration if you expect your income to be lower in the future compared to this year’s.
  • If you hold an asset for under 12 months, a capital gain made may be assessed in its entirety upon the sale. Whereas, if you deferred the sale of this asset until after you have held it for 12 months or more you may be entitled to the 50% capital gains tax discount.
  • A capital loss can (only) be used to offset a capital gain. Furthermore, if there is no capital gain in the same year as the capital loss, this capital loss can be carried forward to be used in future years. Consequently, to offset a capital gain you have made, it may be worthwhile considering the use of a capital loss that has been carried forward or selling an asset that is currently sitting at a loss.

Importantly, whilst the above takes a tax planning perspective, when it comes to the sale of an asset that triggers a capital gain or loss, decisions should also be consistent with your overall investment strategy.

Organise statements, receipts and expenses
Although it’s probably a little while off before you get around to lodging this year’s tax return, you may want to consider making a start on collecting, sorting and storing your statements, receipts and expenses that are currently available to you. This may help alleviate some of the stress that often accompanies year-end preparation. Please read our ‘Checklist: Preparing for tax time the easy way’ article for a helpful list of statements, receipts and expenses that may be relevant to you.

In addition, if you run your own self-managed super fund, you may also wish to watch our animation ‘An end of financial year checklist for SMSFs’. This provides a brief overview of a range of ongoing administration and reporting responsibilities – many of which fall at or around the end of financial year.

Moving forward
When it comes to planning for the end of the financial year, the trick is not to leave it to the last minute! With June 30 on the horizon, it’s time to take stock of your current financial situation to see whether any adjustments can (or should) be made.

And remember, whilst we have highlighted several tips, it’s important to understand that their appropriateness will depend on your personal circumstances. As such, please consider seeking professional advice so that an assessment can be made that is aligned with your financial situation, goals and objectives.