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Maximising your tax return as a home-based business

Small business owners may be able to claim deductions for the costs of using your home as a principal place of business when filing your 2019 income tax return.

Tax deductions may be claimed for the business portion of expenses that include electricity, cleaning, rent payments or mortgage repayments. However, it can be difficult to ensure you are claiming expenses you are entitled to. How you operate the business out of your home will determine the types of expenses that may be claimed. Your business structure will also affect your entitlements and obligations when claiming deductions on home-based business expenses.

Individuals that operate a business as a sole trader or partnership are entitled to claim a deduction for the costs of running their business from home. There are two types of expenses that can be claimed, running expenses or occupancy expenses. Running expenses refer to the increased costs of using your home’s facilities for the running of your business. Occupancy expenses are those that you pay to own or rent your home.

Typically, those that are eligible to claim occupancy expenses can also claim running expenses. Records that need to be kept include written evidence, tax invoices and receipts, which should substantiate your claims for all home-based business expenses. You may consider consulting a trusted advisor or registered tax agent to ensure that you meet all obligations when claiming deductions in your tax return.

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Expert advice on early superannuation access as a result of COVID-19

April 2, 2020

Under the coronavirus stimulus package released and revised by the Australian Federal Government on 22 March 2020, individuals in financial trouble due to the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 will be able to access their superannuation funds early. However, while the option is available, it is recommended that individuals only consider withdrawing from their super in the case of absolute emergencies and treat it as a last resort.

With the new rules on superannuation, workers whose incomes are reduced by at least 20% due to the COVID-19 outbreak are allowed to take $10,000 out of their super for the 2019-20 financial year and another $10,000 for 2020-21. Individuals will also not need to pay tax on any withdrawn amounts and existing welfare payments will not be affected either.

While the introduced early access to superannuation funds may be inviting for newly unemployed workers, it is important to consider whether the temporary relief is necessary and worth foregoing super funds available for long term investment. For example, even when accounting for Australia’s slowing economy in the coming years, $10,000 is predicted to be worth over $65,000 in another 30 years.

Especially for younger workers who are less likely to have access to other savings, the choice to give up future savings for current comfort is a difficult one. Experts instead are recommending Australians to apply for the other payments and benefits made available to vulnerable Australians through the coronavirus stimulus package, such as added $550 fortnightly supplements to Australians on JobSeeker payments and other welfare recipients and pensioners.

Experts also predict that the Australian Government will introduce more stimuli for increased cash flow in the Australian economy and more payments for unemployed, struggling and vulnerable Australians in the case of COVID-19 becoming more of a serious economic issue. Hence, withdrawing funds from your superannuation account should be considered a last resort and not for the sake of unnecessary temporary relief.

In addition to being allowed early access into individual super funds, superannuation minimum drawdown rates will also be temporarily reduced by 50% for account-based pensions and others similar until 2021.

The Government has also reduced the upper and lower social security deeming rates by a further 0.25 percentage points, with upper at 2.25% and lower at 0.25% which will come into effect on 1 May 2020.