The Ultimate Tips for a Pain Free Tax Season

When you think of ground breaking technology you probably don’t think “tax”, but surprisingly there is quiet a bit of new technology out there that will definitely help make your annual obligations a bit easier. Unfortunately, there is nothing out there yet that will do it for you (except perhaps your spouse - if they really love you).

Turning up to your accountant with a shoebox of receipts is no longer an option, unless you don’t mind paying them big money to sift through it all and make decisions about what’s deductible or not on your behalf. 

Here are some tips and technology that may make the painful process a bit easier:

1: ATO App

Although the ATO App is overly reliant on linking thought to the ATO website it does have some helpful features that can save you time and energy. The myDeductions feature allows you to capture your expenses and record travel on the app as you go, then at tax time you can upload then directly into your tax return or email them to your accountant for them to deal with.  You can capture the expenses with a photo or input it manually.  It also provides some helpful calculators and will take you directly to myGov, which once set up, will let you interact directly with various government departments including the ATO.

2: Record your expenses

If your looking for a more functionality, then there is a slew of apps out there to record your deductible (and perhaps non-deductible) expenses.  I like Expensify, as it allows you to scan expenses and then will automatically read and import receipt details for you.  You can then categorise, tag, and group expenses into a report.  There is also a useful credit card function that matches your receipts with your credit card transactions – this is particularly useful if you need to provide proof of payment for work expense claims.

3: Trip records

For those who use their car for work and just can’t remember to keep a log book - why not try a trip recording app?  Driversnote App is a simple option that tracks you km’s with a tap of a button and you can get your mileage report in PDF ready to print or by email.  But, what I like the best, is the use of beacon technology – by leaving one of their beacons in your car the app will know when you are in your car and automatically record every trip – you won’t even have to get your phone out of your pocket!

4: Rental and Other Investment Income

If you are the hands on type of person and manage your investment property yourself or are making some spare cash with Airbnb, you might be interested in Landlord Property Buddy to make life easier.  Not only can you track costs, but it will it tell you if rent is overdue, send invoices and receipts, record inspections and manage repair and maintenance issues.

The ATO has been keeping record of your bank interest, dividends and trust income for many years now.  Banks, share registries and fund managers are required to report to the ATO each year about the income paid to you.  So the simple solution is just to go on their report – this can be accessed through myGov.

5: Cloud Accounting

But what if you have a small business and need to get your day to day accounts up to scratch? When writing this blog, I took the time to reassess what’s out there for book-keeping and found that there are many, many options to choose from. 

This is my Must-Have checklist:

  • Cloud based - so I can keep up to date from anywhere
  • Transactions fed straight from the bank – so I don’t have to do any nasty data entry
  • Simple bank reconciliation – recognizing repeated transactions and prefilling details
  • Simple invoicing – making them easy to create, email out and most importantly get paid
  • Well priced – so I can spend more money on champagne
  • Document filing – eliminating the need to keep paper files
  • BAS calculations and simple reporting – get the info you need with a few clicks

Xero ticks all the boxes for me, plus it has the added advantage of being able to invite your bookkeeper or accountant so that they can help you out with the hard stuff. It also has an efficient payroll system and a handy, customisable dashboard where you can quickly see how things are tracking.

Alas, if you have not put in any effort so far it’s probably too late to implement anything for your next tax return. But it’s the perfect time to get organised for next year. 

So why not make a New Financial Year Resolution and get organised, save time and maximise your tax refunds for years to come!