How to Stay Organised during Tax Time to Optimise Your Returns
Australians are urged to get organised ahead of the end of financial year, including finding a great accountant, collating all necessary paperwork and knowing what you can deduct, in order to maximise and get the most out of your returns.
Caroline Guillemain-Brunne is the founder of Organise.Curate.Design, a lifestyle management agency that helps people tackle their ever-growing to-do lists. She runs a team of Life Assistants you never knew you needed and says tax time doesn't have to be a chore.
"With a few steps, tax time can be stress free and a really great time to review all of your financial arrangements." said Ms. Guillemain-Brunne.
Get A Great Accountant
To maximise your time and your tax return, Caroline says the first step, and most important thing to do, is get a great accountant.
"Never settle for second best when it comes to an accountant – you should always feel comfortable enough with them to recommend them to your best friend. If the cost of engaging an accountant turns you off, remember that the cost of an accountant is actually tax deductible."
Label All Tax Paperwork Clearly and Keep It All in One Spot
Caroline suggests getting all your paperwork together as early as possible and using email folders for digital receipts and dividers for any paper documents.
"Set up a sub-folder in your emails for any statements and electronic receipts so it is easy to drag and drop. You can have a folder for the financial year or for each month of the year. You can do the same thing for paper documents – divide them into different folders depending on the category and label folders by year or month."
Genevieve Rajakulendran at KNP Accounting added that making the most of online storage is a good way to keep track of receipts and documents for the ATO mandated period of seven years.
"Receipts can fade over time so taking a photo and storing on the 'cloud' is a safer option. Make use of free online storage programs such as Dropbox or OneDrive. These can also easily be shared with your accountant," said Ms. Rajakulendran.
While the documents you need may differ given your situation, the following is a good spot to start:
• Bank statements
• Any receipts of work- related expenses or donations
• Summary of your income and expenses for the year indicating your profit for the year
• Summary of assets you own
• Summary of debts you owe
Use Your Phone
Another way of staying organised throughout the year for EOFY is to use your phone to take photos of receipts or record messages to remind yourself of things you've purchased throughout the year.
"Take photos of receipts whilst you are out and about, especially if you're travelling. You can then file them immediately and prevent coffee stained, crumpled and faded receipts. If you're particularly forgetful, you can use your phones voice recording app and record messages to yourself about purchases you've made and why." Ask For Help
If finding the right accountant, sorting through paperwork or researching items to purchase with surplus funds is overwhelming, then get an additional set of hands!
"Engaging a Life Assistant through Organise.Curate.Design can be a life saver at tax time. We can help find your perfect accountant, organise all your paperwork, and help get your head around how to stay organised for tax time. We can also help to implement strategies around setting goals for the coming financial year and efficiencies to make your next EOFY period an enjoyable one," said Ms. Guillemain-Brunne.
For more information about Organise.Curate.Design, head to their website: https://www.organisecuratedesign.com
Interview with Caroline Guillemain-Brunne, founder of Organise.Curate.Design
Question: How can we find a great accountant? Caroline Guillemain-Brunne
Caroline Guillemain-Brunne: I suggest that you speak to the people that you trust and ask them who they use. You may have people in your business network that run a business that is at a similar stage or size as you and if they are happy with their accountant, they are highly likely to recommend them. If you are an employee the same method can apply to you, ask friends and family who they use for their tax and if they've been happy with the service in the past. If you can't find exactly what you are looking for then putting a call out on social media groups can have a similar result, people will have accountants they recommend and you can get a gauge on who to use that will suit your needs that come with trusted recommendations.
Question: Is being organised for tax-time an all year exercise?
Caroline Guillemain-Brunne: As someone who thrives on organisation I would say yes, though I understand not everyone gets a kick out of being organised quite like I do. Ideally having a folder in your inbox set aside for filing away receipts and other electronic documents that you receive throughout the year is best. You can also replicate that to a hard copy folder if you are still receiving certain documents as paper copies. Today is a great day to start and if you set up some practices to consistently stay on top of your tax-time paperwork the End of Financial Year will be a breeze the next time round.
Question: Where do we find information on what we can deduct?
: The ATO website has a comprehensive guide on what deductions you can claim, but I'm a big believer in getting the experts to do the work for me. A good accountant will have a checklist of things for you to think about and will prompt you to think about the deductions that are applicable to you based on the type of work you do and any other items that relate to you. If your accountant doesn't prompt you for more information then be sure to speak up, you don't want to miss out on deductions. They are the experts so be sure to use their expertise. Question:
How can we use our phone to stay organised for tax time? Caroline Guillemain-Brunne
: Your phone can be used for so much but the key tip is taking photos of receipts the moment you purchase the item. If you are unsure if the item is deductible having a photo of the receipt to quickly send to your accountant is the easiest way to gaining clarification as they can look at the way the purchase has been broken down and what GST is applicable. Question:
What is Organise.Curate.Design? Caroline Guillemain-Brunne
: Organise.Curate.Design. is the Life Assistant you never knew you needed. We have a team of Life Assistants to help you with all of your life admin. We action items on your never ending to do list or teach you time management and organisational skills. Everyone has a to do list, and that list often consists of things you don't want to do, don't have time to do or don't know how to do. That is where a Life Assistant can come in to manage all of the admin and logistics to get things done. Question:
What originally inspired you to begin Organise.Curate.Design? Caroline Guillemain-Brunne
: To be honest, I needed a Life Assistant. I had some important but non-urgent items on my to do list that I wanted to outsource to someone but I couldn't find the right service for me. After further research I identified a very clear gap in the market in the grey space between work and home to manage all of the tasks that come up in between. The business was created from a necessity and has now grown into a way to really give back to our community. To help people gain time and reduce mental load so they can live a happier more in control life. Question:
What 'rules' do you have in place for clients to be able to tackle their ever-growing to-do lists? Caroline Guillemain-Brunne
: We enter relationships with our clients and lead from a place of trust and non-judgement. Our main rule is that we ask for the same in return from our clients. We ask that they trust us and share as much information with us as possible to give us the capability to do our best on their behalf. We also encourage them to work from a place of non-judgement and to let go of the 'shoulds'. If they are focused on the goals we are working towards, instead of being hard on themselves on all of the things they have not achieved up to this point, we can work with them on designing a life they truly enjoy whilst outsourcing the things they no longer need to action themselves. Question:
What's a typical day like, for you? Caroline Guillemain-Brunne
: I personally have some routines in place that work for me in. What I do first thing in the morning, how I block out parts of my schedule and when I switch off to get down time. Though a day in the life of a Life Assistant is colourful to say the least and that's part of why it's so fun. We have a saying that if it's legal, we can make it happen! Flexibility is key and working in the mindset that anything can be done, you just need to try.
Interview by Brooke Hunter