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Christmas Peace

 

Season Greetings

Wishing you a very happy Christmas, safe holiday season and all the best for the New Year.

From your team
Lee Business & Accounting Services

 Our office will be closed from Friday 22nd December to Monday 8th January

 

 

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We have relocated to Suite 8, First floor,
133 Wharf Street TWEED HEADS NSW 2485
 
There is ample street parking right outside the door. 
It is easy to find as it is right opposite the Tweed Council Chambers, library and boat harbour
 
Our email, postal address and phone numbers are still the same.
 
Feel free to contact us on 0755242498 or 0412814808
 
Our office hours are 9:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday

Appointments may still be available outside these hours
 
 
 
 
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It’s that time of the year again.  Time to consider if you can claim a tax deduction for your staff Christmas party and gifts? Or are there Fringe Benefit tax obligations for the employer? How is a Cash Christmas Bonus treated? 

The ATO have a basic article on their website for you to get a feel of the legislation: https://www.ato.gov.au/Newsroom/smallbusiness/General/Work-Christmas-parties-and-gifts/

Christmas Bonus

Any cash Christmas Bonus you give your current employee, will need to be included their payslip, have PAYG withheld and superannuation paid. This will be included in the payment summary earnings at the end of the financial year. Tax deductible, no FBT

Christmas party: It depends on the cost, whether it is held on or off the employer premises and where, and who it is for (employee, associates, suppliers, clients)

Christmas Gifts: It depends on the cost, type of gift, and who it is for (employee, associates, suppliers, clients)

Some Basic Pointers:

For EACH employee (or employee’s associate):

 

Gifts & Hampers (non-entertainment gifts):

• If the gift is $299 or less each, it is regarded as a minor Benefit and NOT tax deductible, no FBT

• If the gift is $300 or more each, it is regarded as an employee Benefit and is tax deductible, and FBT is payable by the employer

….For Clients & Suppliers, tax deductible, no FBT where a Minor gift – where an expectation it will motivate referral of your products or services

 

Parties (& entertainment Gifts)

 

• If the party is $299 or less each, it is regarded as a minor Benefit and NOT tax deductible, no FBT

• If the party is $300 or more each, it is regarded as an employee Benefit and is tax deductible, and FBT is payable by the employer

(If the party is on the employer’s business premises ON a working day, for the current employee only, it is regarded as an exempt property benefit NOT tax deductible, no FBT.)

….For Clients & Suppliers, NOT tax deductible, no FBT 

Please refer to the following link for detailed consideration of clients, suppliers, employees & their associates:   https://www.ato.gov.au/General/Fringe-benefits-tax-(FBT)/In-detail/Fact-sheets/FBT-and-Christmas-parties/?page=2

 

 

Taxi Travel: (To\from Christmas Party or Entertainment)

• Single Trip beginning and\or ending at employers employer’s business premises ON a working day, for the current employee,  NOT tax deductible, no FBT.

 

• Otherwise: If the taxi and value of other associated entertainment benefits is $299 or less, it is regarded as a minor Benefit and NOT tax deductible, no FBT 

 

If the taxi and value of other associated entertainment benefits is $300 or more, it is regarded as an employee Benefit and is tax deductible, and FBT is payable by the employer

 

Other Useful Links about entertainment gifts\parties: https://www.ato.gov.au/General/Fringe-benefits-tax-(fbt)/In-detail/Publications/FBT-and-entertainment-for-small-business/?page=4#What_is_entertainment_

 

This is general information only, and should not be relied upon without professional advice. Please call us on 07 5523 1159 for a consultation to clarify tax deductibility & FBT treatment relating to your particular business circumstances

 

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Posted by on in Tax Matters

Franking credits are a kind of tax credit that allows Australian companies to pass on the tax paid at company level to shareholders. Franking credits can reduce the income tax paid on dividends or potentially be received as a tax refund.

Where a company distributes fully franked dividends (and those dividends are included in the taxable income of the taxpayer) the taxpayer can claim a credit against their taxable income for the tax that has already been paid by the company from which the dividend was paid.

For example, an individual who owns shares in a company receives a fully franked dividend of $700 from the company. The dividend statement says that there is a franking credit of $300 (the tax the company has already paid). This means the dividend would have been $1,000 ($700 + $300) before company tax was deducted.

At the end of the financial year, the individual must include $1,000 (the $700 dividend + the $300 franking credit) in their taxable income.

The tax for an individual is calculated through their marginal tax rate; i.e, if their rate is 19 per cent they would have to pay $190 tax on the dividend. But because the company has already paid $300 in tax, the individual receives a refund of the difference, which is $110. 

Where the individual’s tax rate is higher than the company rate, i.e. 32.5 per cent, the individual will not receive a refund but will receive a credit of $300 against the additional $325 in tax payable.

This publication is general information for guidance only, and professional advice should be obtained before acting  on any information contained herein. LBAS Pty Ltd "Tax Matters"
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Posted by on in Tax Matters

Property investors can access a wide range of tax deductions and items subject to depreciation for their rental property yet many miss out on unknown tax breaks, foregoing an average of $20,000 a year on a $1 million house.

Here are five ways to maximise your tax deductions while complying with the tax office:

Use a quantity surveyor

Registered quantity surveyors can establish the value of purchased items and building construction costs by preparing depreciation schedules to maximise an investor’s claim.

Items as diverse as kitchen equipment, bathroom fittings, outdoor furniture, air conditioning and swimming pools are all legitimate claims. A quantity surveyor will ensure valuations of the items in the building are at market value, avoiding the need to explain any valuations that are higher than expected to the ATO.

The cost of using a quantity surveyor is also tax deductible.

Apportion expenses

It is common for investors to bundle a mix of properties under one single loan, i.e. the family home and a rental property may be funded by the same mortgage and expenses apportioned accordingly. However, having separate loans can increase deductions as the non-deductible debt can be paid down or even better linked to an offset account, with the deductible loan having full interest paid and claimed.

Claim travel expenses

Travel to your rental property for management purposes can be claimed as an expense. If you combine your property inspection with a holiday, the tax office will require you to apportion the expenses between non-deductible private expenses and the costs that can be claimed.

Immediate write-offs

An immediate write-off applies to items worth less than $300 and can be claimed in the current income year. Items such as garden gnomes, kitchen cutlery, ironing boards and irons are easily forgotten and all can be written off in the first year.

Construction costs

Construction costs can generally be  depreciated at 2.5 per cent each year over 40 years for residential properties built after July 1985. This entitlement passes from one owner to the next whenever the property is sold. A quantity surveyor can provide an estimate if information is not available.

 Depreciation

Many high value household items are now deducted using the “diminishing value method”, which means the most depreciation happens in the first few years. For example, ducted heating worth $4941 would have a first-year deduction of $493, totalling $2022 over the first five years.

Adding items such as solar lights, garbage bins, garden sheds, intercoms systems and closed circuit television systems to a low-value pool can open up ways to depreciate items at a higher rate, therefore, increasing immediate returns.

This publication is general information for guidance only, and professional advice should be obtained before acting  on any information contained herein. LBAS Pty Ltd "Tax Matters"

 

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Posted by on in Tax Matters

The ATO is currently targeting workrelated expenses by taking a closer look at unusual deductions and claims that are higher than expected.

The Tax Office will be looking for expense claims that are much higher than others who are in the same occupation and will be contacting employers to validate these claims. 

When claiming work-related expense deductions, taxpayers must ensure that the expense is related to their job; they were not reimbursed for the money spent and have a record to prove it.

Here are some things to keep in mind when claiming deductions:

Car expenses

You can only claim a deduction if you use your own car in the course of performing your job as an employee. You cannot claim the cost of travel between home and work as it is considered private. 

The ATO is focusing on the transportation of bulky tools as carrying unnecessary equipment is not a legitimate claim if equipment is already supplied.

Self-education expenses

You may be able to claim a deduction if your study is work-related or if you receive a taxable scholarship. A deduction cannot be claimed if a course does not have a sufficient connection to your current employment.

Internet and mobile phone expenses

If you use your own mobile phone or internet for work purposes, you may be able to claim a deduction. If you also use them for personal use, you will need to apportion the percentage that reasonably relates to work use. 

 

This publication is general information for guidance only, and professional advice should be obtained before acting  on any information contained herein. LBAS Pty Ltd "Tax Matters"
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Posted by on in Tax Matters
ATO warns pre-retirees on SMSF tax schemes

 

 

The Australian Tax Office has its sight set on individuals participating in an increasing number of aggressive tax avoidance and retirement planning schemes in self-managed superannuation funds. 

The ATO has launched Super Scheme Smart, an initiative designed to help inform individuals and advisers about illegal retirement planning schemes. The program is a result of an increase in schemes designed specifically to target those approaching retirement.

The Tax Office has noted individuals approaching retirement are most at risk, in particular, those aged 50 or over, looking to put significant amounts of money into retirement. Self-managed super fund (SMSF) trustees, self-funded retirees, small business owners, company directors and individuals involved in property investment are also particularly at risk.

The schemes targeted typically involve a lot of paper shuffling; are complex and usually connected with a SMSF; are designed to leave the taxpayer with minimal or zero tax, or a tax refund, and aim to give a present day tax benefit by adopting the arrangement.

The ATO is targeting three schemes including:

·         Dividend stripping: where shareholders in a private company transfer ownership of their shares to an SMSF so that the company can pay dividends to the SMSF. The purpose being to strip profits from the company in a tax-free form. 

·         Non-arm's length limited recourse borrowing arrangements: when an SMSF trustee undertakes limited recourse borrowing arrangements (LRBA) established or maintained on terms that are not consistent with an arm's length dealing. 

·         Personal services income: where an individual (usually at pension phase) diverts income earned from personal services to an SMSF where it is concessionally taxed or treated as exempt from tax.  

The ATO is urging individuals and SMSF trustees to come forward if they believe they are at risk or are already involved in an illegal scheme. In addition to severe penalties, individuals caught using an illegal scheme may risk losing some of their retirement nest egg and their rights as a trustee to manage and operate a self-managed superannuation fund.

 

This publication is general information for guidance only, and professional advice should be obtained
before acting  on any information contained herein. LBAS Pty Ltd "Tax Matters"
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Posted by on in Tax Matters

The compliance requirements for SMSFs are extremely stringent, and it is important for trustees to be acutely aware of their responsibilities.

Of course, your accountant is there to help you out, but you should always aim to have a robust understanding of your SMSF’s reporting requirements.

Withdrawing minimum pension

SMSFs that do not distribute minimum pensions to members who are in pension phase may face hefty tax penalties. If a member of your SMSF has recently reached pension phase or you are at all unsure as to what your minimum pension amount is, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Depositing contributions

All of the contributions that have been recorded for your SMSF need to be deposited in the SMSF’s bank account by no later than June 30 2016. This is especially important where members have reported concessional or nonconcessional contributions. 

Spouse contributions

If you are eligible to split your superannuation contributions then you may be able to make some savings on your tax bill come June 30.

This is especially true where your spouse is a low-income earner. However, even if your spouse is not a low-income earner, there are other advantages to splitting income between accounts, for example, increased income flexibility in retirement. 

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Posted by on in Tax Matters

Federal Budget 2016 - Highlights

Tax Matters - Tax Strategies for you and your business!

To access The Budget Highlights, please go to the link below :

Inside:

  • Federal budget - small business
  • Federal budget - superannuation changes
  • Federal budget - individuals
  • Federal budget - flexible super
  • ATO to focus on collectables
  • Tax on gifts and donations
  • Renting out a room can incur CGT

Click here for a pdf of The Budget Highlights 2016

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Posted by on in Tax Matters

 

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Every small business owner knows the stress that comes with the end of financial year.

A lot of valuable time and energy gets poured into getting your paperwork in order and making sure that you’re minimising your tax bill as much as possible.

The good news is that there is still time to sort things out, and with this checklist you can feel confident that you are on top of your tax:

Get on top of your records

If you’ve been organised this year then you deserve to give yourself a big pat on the back! However, taxpayers who have fallen behind on any record keeping, are advised to take any necessary steps to get up to date, including seeking external assistance. Record keeping is critical and it is imperative to stay on top of your responsibilities.

Write off bad debts

Unfortunately, there will be times that a client does not pay you for work that has been completed. This is known as having a bad debt and it is an extremely frustrating situation for any business owner.

A small consolation can be found in the fact that bad debts are tax deductible. In the event that you have a bad debt, it should be formally written off in your financial records. You will then be able to claim it as a deduction against your taxable income. It may also be necessary for you to provide the ATO with proof that you have taken reasonable steps to recover the amount.

Seek advice about legislation changes

These changes may be from the last financial year, and, therefore, require you to take certain steps in the next few weeks. There may also be additional changes that will be announced in the upcoming May Budget. It is important to be aware of any impending changes as they may influence your tax strategy and decisions as June 30 approaches.

 

 

Get the ball rolling on stocktake

Retailers and wholesalers are required to undertake a stocktake at the end of each financial year. However, if your annual turnover is less than $2 million and the difference in value between your opening and closing stock can reasonably be estimated to be less than $5000 then you are exempt from this requirement.

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The end of financial year is a good time to think about your capital gains and losses for the year.

Timing and planning are everything when it comes to minimising your CGT bill and making the most out of your investment returns.

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Capital gains tax (CGT) is incurred when a taxpayer disposes of an asset, for example, commercial and residential property, shares, units in unit trusts or collectables. Where the asset is sold for a price that is higher than the cost base (which may be calculated based on the purchase price, associated costs and indexation) the difference is considered to be a capital gain. Where an asset is sold at a loss (for a smaller amount than it was originally purchased), a capital loss may be incurred.

Capital losses can be used to offset capital gains in a financial year. It is also possible for taxpayers to carry capital losses forward to subsequent years if they do not have capital gains against which they can deduct them at the time.

Here are some strategies to reduce your CGT liability:

Use CGT concessions

As detailed in the article above, there are a number of CGT concessions that are available to small businesses. These concessions can be extremely effective in reducing your CGT bill, and, in some circumstances, may even reduce it to nil.

Taxpayers who do qualify for any of the CGT concessions are in an advantageous position when it come to paying their tax bill.

Dispose of assets before June 30

In years where you have incurred a significant capital gain, you may care to consider disposing of another asset that will yield a capital loss. In the event that an underperforming asset will not have a positive turn around, disposing of it before the end of financial year will allow you to use the capital loss to offset your tax liability from any capital gains.

Defer disposal to a lower-income year

Instead of disposing of an asset that you expect to make a capital gain on this year, you may care to consider postponing the disposal if you expect to have a lower taxable income next year. For example, you may be planning to take some unpaid leave or have disposed of multiple assets in the current year.

Plan for CGT events in advance

If you are planning on making any new investments or disposing of assets, it always pays to plan your CGT strategy in advance. Careless timing can cost you a huge amount on your tax bill.

Carry forward your capital losses

You can carry forward capital losses from previous years to offset capital gains in the current year. The real offset value of capital losses diminishes, so if you have incurred a significant capital loss you may care to consider bringing forward the sale of an asset that you expect to make a capital gain on. 

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Posted by on in Tax Matters

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It is essential for all small businesses to have an effective record keeping system in place.

Having your records in good working order will significantly reduce the stress that comes with the end of financial year, and will ensure that you make the most out of all of your potential tax savings.

Well organised records carry the additional benefit of allowing you to review your finances easily, potentially showing you where you may be losing out unnecessarily.

Records that you must keep include:

Income tax records

You will need all of your income details and expenses in order to prepare your activity statements and your annual tax return. These records may include invoices, cash register tape, receipts and records that indicate the breakdown of personal and private use of an asset.

Bank records

This includes bank statements, loan documentation and records of any cash deposits.

Year-end records

At the end of financial year you will need to be able to provide the ATO with a list of all of your creditors and debtors, as well as a spreadsheet detailing all of your depreciating assets, your capital gains records and your stocktake details. 

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Posted by on in Tax Matters

As the end of financial year approaches, it pays to start thinking about whether or not you will be able to make any additional personal contributions to your super.

In addition to topping up your retirement nest egg, you will also benefit from some generous tax breaks.

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the future of these tax concessions so if your financial situation is permitting, it might be worth considering maximising your contributions as soon as possible.

Super for the self-employed

Self-employed Australians can claim a tax deduction for contributions made to an eligible superannuation fund.

However, taxpayers who are both employees and self-employed may only claim super contributions as a tax deduction where they have derived less than 10% of their assessable income from employment.

These contributions are considered to be part of your concessional contributions cap.

Deductible superannuation contributions can offset an unusually large taxable income, for example, if you have made a significant capital gain from the disposal of an asset.

Set up a salary sacrificing arrangement

In a salary sacrificing arrangement, your employer will hold back part of your gross (before tax) pay and contribute it to your nominated superannuation account.

The contributions to your super account are taxed at the flat rate of 15%, which is typically much lower than your marginal tax rate. Salary sacrificing into your super reduces your total taxable income, thereby reducing your tax bill.

Super contributions for your spouse

Where your spouse is a low-income earner, you can make superannuation contributions on their behalf in order to receive a tax offset of up to $540.

In order to qualify for this offset, your spouse must have an assessable income that is less than $13 800 per annum, making it an option worth considering where a family member is taking time out from the workforce.

As an added benefit, their superannuation savings won’t suffer from their contributions break. Furthermore, the money will work hard due to compound interest and low tax rates.

End-of-financial year superannuation tax checklist:  b2ap3_thumbnail_checklist.png

Do I have the necessary records for all of my superannuation contributions and accounts?

What is the total amount that I have contributed this year (including my super guarantee amounts)?

Can I make a contribution for my spouse? And is this an effective tax minimisation strategy?

Were there any contributions from the previous financial year that I can super split into this current financial year?

Should I consider making any additional contributions before the end of financial year (concessional and non-concessional)? 

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There are a number of small business tax breaks that it pays to be aware of as the end of financial year approaches.

We have compiled this brief overview to give you an idea about whether any of these will be beneficial to your business:

b2ap3_thumbnail_chart-calc.pngTrading stock

Small businesses can opt out of doing an end of year stocktake (which can be expensive) if the value of their trading stock has not gone up or down by more than $5000 in the past financial year.

Simplified depreciation

Small businesses can immediately write off the value of business assets that were less than $1000. The depreciation on assets valued at over $1000 can be calculated as a single pool that depreciates at 15% in the first year and 30% every year after that.

However, there are some assets that are excluded from the simplified depreciation rules. Businesses that are using the simplified depreciation should seek advice on any assets that may require a different method of calculating depreciation.

CGT concessions

There are four CGT tax concessions available to small businesses that can be extremely effective in minimising, or even eliminating, CGT liability. These concessions are:

• The retirement exemption: Available to small business owners over the age of 55, or when the capital gain is contributed to a superannuation account

• The 15 year exemption: Available to retiring small business owners who have held the asset for over 15 years

• The 50% active asset reduction: Where an asset is considered to be ‘active’ the CGT liability may be reduced by 50% (the requirements here are complex and it is advisable to seek professional advice)

• The CGT rollover: If a business asset is disposed of and the business plans to purchase a similar replacement asset, then the CGT bill may be deferred for at least two years

There are specific rules about the order that these CGT concessions should be applied. It is advisable to seek professional advice before disposing of an asset.

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Every year, the ATO announces a number of compliance areas that will be subject to additional scrutiny.

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It always pays to be aware of these focuses, as non-compliance is, more often than not, the result of an honest mistake as opposed to wilful deception. Unfortunately, an honest mistake can still cost you dearly in penalties and/or interest on late payments to the ATO. In the 2014/15 financial year, the ATO will be focusing on:

Personal technology

Deductions claimed for personal technology items such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. Taxpayers who are claiming deductions on such items should ensure that they have adequate documentation to prove the breakdown of personal/work use (for example diary entries). You are only able to claim a tax deduction equivalent to the portion of the use that is work related.

Cash economy

The ATO will be aiming to identify businesses that operate off the books by failing to accurately record their cash transactions. This may involve paying employees in cash (and therefore avoiding minimum wage requirements and the super guarantee) and/or underreporting the business’s profits, thereby reducing the overall tax liability.

GST compliance

The GST compliance program involves ensuring that all businesses that are required to register for GST have done so (that is all businesses with an annual turnover in excess of $75 000). The accuracy of BAS reporting is also under scrutiny.

Travel costs

Taxpayers claiming large deductions in the form of work-related travel costs will be subject to additional examination from the ATO this year. In particular, the tax office has warned that it will be focusing on the validity of deductions claimed for the transportation of bulky tools and equipment. 

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Posted by on in Tax Matters

b2ap3_thumbnail_Screen-Shot-2016-03-11-at-21.48.34.pngSavvy Australian property investors can save a large amount on their tax bill by deducting associated expenses.

Negative gearing allows property investors to claim any shortfall between their income and expenditure on an investment property as a deduction against their total taxable income.

Most property investors are aware of the usual expenditure deductions that they can use to offset any income earned by an investment property. Regular costs such as maintenance, repairs, interest on loans and management fees can all be used to offset rental income.

However, there are a few lesser known tax strategies that property investors may care to look at as June 30 approaches:

Refinancing your mortgage

Refinancing your mortgage usually incurs a couple of one-off costs and fees. Investors who are planning on refinancing their mortgage may care to consider doing so before June 30 in order to claim these costs as a deduction in the 2015-16 financial year.

Pre-pay interest

Property investors who have sufficient funds to pre-pay interest on a loan can do so and claim the deduction in the current financial year. It is also possible to pre-pay (and claim a deduction for) your upcoming property insurance premiums.

Bring forward maintenance expenditure

If there are maintenance tasks that you know will need to be completed on an investment property, then you may wish to complete them before June 30 in order to minimise your tax bill in the current financial year.

Stay on top of your paperwork

Make sure that you are aware of the depreciations on any fittings or repairs, as well as any other costs you have incurred, for example, strata fees, management fees or rental losses.

Property investors are highly advised to discuss their tax situation with an accountant to ensure that their activities are compliant and that tax savings are maximised. 

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If your negatively geared property is beginning to create some serious cash flow problems, there is a way you can access the large tax breaks it provides before the end of the financial year.

Specifically structuring an investment property to take advantage of negative gearing is a popular strategy for investors wanting to achieve significant taxation benefits. However, since investors are subject to normal withholding tax from their weekly pay, these benefits often remain with the ATO until investors lodge their annual tax return.

While that may work for most tax deductions, it can sometimes create cash flow problems for property investors with large tax breaks who cannot afford to wait until the end of the financial year.

Applying for a Tax Withholding Variation

Lodging an Income Tax Withholding Variation (ITWV) application with the ATO is a viable means of allowing investors to access these tax benefits every week (when they are most needed) to help relieve pressures such as cash flow restrictions.

An ITWV, previously known as a Section 221YD variation, is an annual application investors can send to the tax office, requesting to vary the amount of tax withheld from their salary each pay period by their employer.

The ITWV is valid for a whole financial year i.e. 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016. If lodged part way through the financial year, it takes into account the tax amount withheld from an investor’s salary to date of the application. ITWV applications need to be renewed on an annual basis if investors wish to continue varying the tax withheld from their salary each financial year. Once approved, investors will have their weekly PAYG reduced for each pay period.

There are a number of circumstances where an ITWV may be appropriate, and sometimes necessary for those who want to reduce their pay as you go (PAYG) withholding rate for the year ending 30 June.

The tax office usually processes ITWV applications within ten working days, but it is worthwhile lodging applications at least 14 days prior to an existing variation from expiring.

Once the ATO has processed an ITWV, they will notify the investor’s employer of the “varied” amount of tax to be withheld from their pay each pay period. Those who change jobs during the year will need to submit a new application to the tax office.

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