Taxing times ... getting your finances organised before the end of the financial year can lead to a bigger bank balance.

Taxing times ... Getting your finances organised before the end of the financial year can lead to a bigger bank balance.

While it’s the end of the calendar year that our kids get excited about – Santa Claus and all that stuff – the end of financial year is worth a bit of parental attention as well. A quick to-do list and an hour or so of your time between now and June 30 could make a few hundred dollars difference to your leading-up-to-Christmas cashflow, so here are a few things to do in the next couple of weeks.  

  • Check with your health fund to see if you can pay in advance. Earlier this year the government announced that the 30 percent rebate on health insurance premiums would be means-tested from July 1 this year. The rates are as follows:
    • Less than $168,000: will receive full 30 percent rebate
    • $168,001-194,000: will receive 20 percent rebate
    • $194,001-260,000: will receive 10 percent rebate
    • >$260,001: will receive no rebate
    If your family income is in the income category where you might lose some or all of this rebate, consider paying your health insurance premium in advance. Some funds are letting you pay up to 18 months in advance, locking in both the rebate and avoiding premium increases for this time. Depending on your income and health insurance level, just doing this one task alone could save you more than $2000 next year. For more info, visit the Medicare website.
  • Add up your medical costs for the financial year. Whether it’s doctor’s bills, physio treatment or (eek!) braces, if your family has had more than $2000 in out-of-pocket medical expenses during the financial year, you may be able to claim a medical expenses offset via your tax return. This gives you a 20% rebate on any costs over the $2000 threshold, so if your family has reached that threshold and have any medical expenses coming up in the near future, try to pay for them before June 30. At least you’ll get some money back that way!
  • Pay any work-related expenses by June 30. This is pretty obvious, but can be easy to forget. The difference, though, between paying a work-related expense on June 30 or July 1st is a whole extra year to wait before being able to claim – so it’s worth doing early! What you can claim depends on what type of job you do, but the tax office publishes fact sheets on what deductions may be available for each profession. You can check them out on the Australian Tax Office website.  
  • Don't forget to claim donations. If you’ve donated money to a charity this year, don’t forget to check if you can claim it as a tax deduction! While Australians claimed around $1.9 billion last year, we actually give more than that. My feeling is that plenty of us forget to keep the receipts and put them in our tax return.
  • Healthy start for school: has your child been checked? For parents who receive FTB A and an income support payment, and have a child who turned four during this financial year, make sure that your child has their “healthy start for school” health check, with either their doctor or at your maternal health clinic. If you don't get around to having their checkup, you may have your FTB A supplement withheld.

As always, of course, make sure you have all your tax-related paperwork in one easy-to-find place (personally I use a folder in our filing cabinet, but a shoebox, desk drawer or an email folder on your computer will work just as well). Also remember to make sure you keep the Family Assistance Office updated with your income and family situation.

As I said, an hour or two of your time is all it takes, but it could save you some handy cash!