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Reducing errors when claiming business expenses

The ATO has identified particular areas relating to business expenses that are commonly entered incorrectly in tax returns. Owners should take the time to carefully review tax returns to ensure all information is correct.

Individuals who use a motor vehicle entirely for their business can claim a deduction for the whole amount. However, if they use the vehicle for a mix of business and private use, they will need to divide the expense amount and only claim the business portion.

Business expenses must be kept separate from an individual’s private expenses, such as personal rent, fines, travel, food and renovations of a private residence. Those who operate their small business as a company or trust need to be aware that paying private expenses from these accounts may have other tax implications such as fringe benefits tax and shareholder loans.

In the event a business is upgrading its accounting software, remember to check that business and private expense codes are correct. The business expenses must be claimed at the GST exclusive rate if they are registered for GST, not the GST inclusive rate.

Small businesses should note that falsely or incorrectly claiming expenses is not something the ATO takes lightly. Penalties can apply based on the extent of the misinformation.

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Investing in shares vs property in SMSFs

March 19, 2020

Shares and property are two popular investment options for those with a self-managed super fund (SMSF). However, they both have very different attributes and choosing the one that will achieve the best outcome for an SMSF depends on your personal goals and situation.

While the price of shares can vary drastically, property is a relatively stable asset, making it appealing to those who want more security and predictability. Property prices are also negotiable unlike shares, and you can generally borrow money at a lower rate for property purchases.

It may seem hard to find the perfect investment property, but older and undercapitalised properties can be renovated for profit. However, returns from property rentals can be dented due to factors such as land tax, utilities and rates, maintenance and tenancy vacancies.

Shares are more dynamic and volatile than property. One advantage is the accessibility of investing in shares, as you can enter the share market with a few thousand dollars – much less than what you need to invest in a property.

Maintaining a portfolio of quality shares that pay tax-effective dividends may be a good way to fund retirement. With the right portfolio allocation, shares also have the potential to provide a better, stronger income than property rentals, as long as that income is sustainable and increasing.

Property can generally be used as a wealth-creation tool, while shares can create a reliable retirement income. For those who can afford to put more money into investments, it may be a good idea to consider investing and diversifying in both. If you’re unsure about which investment option is right for you, seeking financial advice may be the best option.