Tax time is upon us once again and financial expect Allan Mason is releasing a series of three books to help readers get the most tax back legally, achieve work/life balance and obtain the keys to business success.
With over 29 years of experience in business and accounting Allan has assisted thousands of clients, working for companies such as the AMP Society, Kaiser Aluminium, Consolidated Press, Offset Alpine Printing and more. He is now director of Broadview Accounting and regularly writes on business topics.
Allan is now available to custom write on all personal finance and business topics as well as being available for comment.
Allan's three new books are:
How to Choose an Accountant ($14.95)
Every business has an accountant, but not every accountant is right for you. Getting this step wrong can be the most costly mistake you will ever make.
Survival to Success ($29.95)
Want lots of money, good health, great job, success and happiness? The ultimate book on goals setting and getting everything you want out of life.
Business Bullseye ($32.95)
A simple rule book on all the things you must do to be successful in business - including work/life balance. Includes a free business plan and other software downloads.
With over 29 years of experience in business and accounting, Allan Mason has assisted thousands of clients, working for companies such as the AMP Society, Kaiser Aluminium, Consolidated Press Holdings, Offset Alpine Printing, and more. He is the author of three books, a regular public speaker and is Director of Broadview Accounting on the Central Coast of NSW.
Author: Allan Mason
Price: 3 pack: $49.95
Question: When and what should you learn about your partner's finances?
Allan Mason: Marriage is a partnership. I have seen many cases whether a spouse (and usually the husband) doesn't tell the other spouse what is happening, and this can result in a massive shock to the other partner. In marriage you should share both the successes and burden. Both should know all about the other partners' financial matters. We even have one client where the husband blatantly took joint assets and squandered them. Not a pretty sight. It is important that both partners be aware of all aspect of the finances should:
Either one have a bad accident and the other needs to take over.
To be help in the decision making process.
To have ownership (metaphorically) of all that is happening on the financial front.
If things are going bad to share the financial stress, provide moral support and be a shoulder to lean on.
To be able to shelter assets if the need arose.
It is all about sharing. After all isn't that what marriage is all about.
Question: Could you provide your top tips to get the most tax back legally?
Allan Mason: 1. Keep good records. That way when it comes to collating your expenditure at the end of the year, it will be easy for you to put your hands on what you have spent.
2. Be timely - don't leave things until they are but a distant memory.
3.Use a professional. Remember Tax Agents do tax returns every day of the year. You do it once a year, and often under duress.
4.Think ahead and plan your affairs. If you look like this year will be good for the Tax Office then act to turn the tables. But do it before June 30, and not after. It is not how much money you make that is important, it is how much you keep.
5. Get a good accountant that you can talk to. Not some-one that is hard to communicate with, won't return telephone calls, or treats you badly.
Question: What do you believe are the most important tips a good accountant should always tell their client?
Allan Mason: Every business is different and has different drivers that influence it's success. Your accountant should know your business and have a good rapport with you, their client. Many things happen between an accountant and their client that are based on this confidence and understanding. A good accountant will know your business, be able to relate industry knowledge to you and assist you be more successful. Some of the important tips a good accountant should pass on are:
a)Be on top of your business's trading results. Don't wait 6 to 9 months to find out you have made a loss. Make sure you have systems in place that are accurate and tell you the current state of your business.
b) If you are experiencing financial stress in your business it is probably because you are losing money. Take stock of where you are and get professional help.
c) Review your financial position regularly and don't be afraid to make changes if you are not tracking in the right direction.
d) If you are making lots of money, make sure you talk to your accountant early to ensure you don't pay lots of tax. You will be surprised as to what a good accountant can come up with.
e) Claim ever cent you can in GST and tax deductions. It is too hard to earn, so don't throw money away. Too often we see clients through their poor bookkeeping missing out on claims.
f) Be timely. Don't leave your tax and financial affairs to later. Don't keep putting things off. Do it now and move on. Being on top of your financial affairs helps you plan better and helps you make decisions based on fact rather than guesswork.
Question: Can you talk about the top five tax mistakes Australians make and how they can be fixed?
Allan Mason: 1. The worst mistake Australians make is putting off doing their tax. The longer you put it off the harder it is. Your memory fades and documents start to get lost. This means you may be missing out on claiming those deductions.
2. Use a professional. By this we mean a recognised accountant is who is member of a recognised professional association. Some-one who can be held accountable by both the Australian Tax Office (because they are regsiterred Tax Agents and a member of professional accounting body like the Institute of Chartered Accountants (CA) or the Society of Certified Practising Accountants (CPA).
3. On the deduction side we often see taxpayers claiming a spouse rebate when they are not entitled to it.
4. If you are over the Medicare Levy threshold you will pay dearly for not having private health insurance. Often clients claim they have private health insurance, when in fact they only have extra's cover. This will not remove the burden of the Medicare Levy Surcharge.
5. Clients often travel for business purposes, but don't claim enough. The tax office lists out how much you can claim as a reasonable amount which varies from city to city. You should check up the amount the ATO allows and claim this.
Interview by Brooke Hunter