Tax time looms: 10 ways to boost your refund

There’s no denying that taxes do a lot to keep our country going but sometimes it can be a bit unclear exactly how much of a refund you’re entitled to. Sounds familiar? Then you’ll be delighted to know that there’s much you can do to ensure you get a good tax refund, no matter your wage bracket. But you must act before the end of the tax year on June 30.

Here’s 10 practical ways you can boost your refund:

  1. Rummage for receipts:
    Suppress that groan and hunt down your receipts. Don’t miss out on money you are entitled to – deductions are probably the easiest and best way to slash your tax. You may be able to claim expenses that relate to your employment. For example, if you are a nurse, you could claim dry cleaning of your uniform, and perhaps car costs, if you have to carry medical equipment.
  2. Spend up big:
    If you’ve earned a tidy sum and are looking to cut your tax bill this year, fork out for additional deductible expenses now (for example, nurses can claim uniforms – search for a list relevant to you). This will help most if it pushes you into a lower tax bracket – so below the 2017-18 taxable income thresholds of $18,201, $37,001, $87,001, or $180,001.
  3. Delay pay:
    Once again assuming this has been a prosperous year, do what you can to shunt further income into next year. There’s the possibility of paying slightly less tax next year too, thanks to proposed Budget changes. Bonuses, commissions, overtime… defer them until the 2018-19 tax year and you’ll come out ahead. (If instead this year’s been a little leaner than usual, delay expenses and scrounge all the income you can now to take advantage of a lower potential tax rate. Got any high-performing assets like shares or property you’d like to offload? Now’s a good tax time.)
  4. Weigh a prepay:
    You can take timing to a whole new level if you’re likely to cop a far bigger tax bill this year than next – pay the next 12 months of some deductible expenses up front. Think the big ones like income protection insurance and interest on investment loans (but consider if this is the best use of your money).
  5. Supe(r) up your own bottom line:
    This is not technically a tax tip, but if you’ll earn less than $51,813 this tax year and you make an after-tax super contribution of $1000 before June 30, you’ll get up to $500 from the government (a ‘co-contribution’). This goes directly into your super fund – so you can’t get it until it’s unlocked at your ‘preservation age’ – but extra money is extra money. This and the last tip are great ways to boost depleted super if you’ve recently had children and the primary carer is phasing back into the workforce.
  6. Support your spouse:
    Make an after-tax super contribution of $3000 for a no- or low-earning spouse (less than $40,000 taxable income) and you can earn a rebate of up to $540.
  7. Make proper(ty) money:
    If you have an investment property, don’t forget to claim all your deductions! Generally these are anything to do with managing or maintaining the property (so agent’s fees, repairs and rates) and also loan interest. But a professional depreciation schedule could give you the biggest boost; get an adviser, accountant or quantity surveyor to calculate the decline in value of furniture, appliances and renovations you could claim over a number of years.
  8. Get travelling:
    It’s possible you can claim deductions for work-related trips. You can usually claim whatever portion is business related. And don’t forget work-related training could be tax-deductible.
  9. Buy health cover (maybe):
    OK there’s not too much of this year left but if you earn over $90,000 as a single or $180,000 as a couple and don’t have private hospital cover, you’ll pay a fine of up to 1.5% called the Medicare Levy Surcharge. Often this is more than the cost of cover itself. Put it in place for 2018-2019 (remembering you may also qualify for a tax rebate on your premiums).
  10. Get giving:
    Donations to a registered charity are tax deductible – so will cost higher-rate taxpayers little more than half. Plus, it helps the community and makes you feel good! As Gloria Steinem says, “we can tell our values by looking at our checkbook stubs.” Perhaps you might even decide to make your tax-deductible donation to the Victorian Women’s Benevolent Trust in support of their community grants that empower women & girls…

Support women & girls

Make a tax deductible donation to the Victorian Women’s Benevolent Trust before June 30 and help make the future equal for everyone.


Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is a commentator and educator who presents her Smart Money Start, a fun financial literacy incursion, in high schools around Australia. Follow Nicole on Facebook, Twitter @NicolePedMcK and Instagram @NicolePedMcKMoney.


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