For freelancers, especially first-timers, tax time at the end of the financial year (EOFY) can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are seven tips to help you get ahead.
1. Working-from-home deductions
If you’ve been working from home due to the coronavirus, you may be entitled to claim tax deductions for expenses related to generating your income. There are a number of criteria to consider before claiming an amount in your tax return, for instance, you should consider whether you can claim the temporary ATO approved “shortcut method” (of 80 cents per hour for all additional running expenses) for the period 1 July 2020 until 30 June 2021. Other calculation methods may also be acceptable and more appropriate to your circumstances. You should consider which method is best for you and the criteria required to claim a deduction. Further information is available at the ATO website.
If you’re earning more than $4,000 a year, you may have to pay PAYG instalments. This means you are required to make tax payments throughout the year.
Make sure you have an Australian Business Number (ABN). Many clients will not deal with you if you don’t have one. They are relatively easy to obtain via the Australian Business Register website.
3. Put money aside, regularly
Make sure you regularly set money aside, or are aware of future tax payments, so you are able to meet your obligation.
A business activity statement (BAS) is issued by the ATO on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis to businesses that have registered for an Australian Business Number (ABN) and GST. You’ll generally be liable to pay a penalty if you don’t lodge your BAS or pay your tax on time.
4. Keep receipts
You may be able to claim for freelance-related expenses. Keep receipts for things like:
- Home-office equipment
- Car expenses
- Phone and internet usage
Please refer to www.ato.gov.au for details of what you might be able to claim.
If in doubt about a receipt – keep it. Also, your accountant or tax agent should only claim expenses that you have receipts for.
5. Separate bank accounts
It's a good idea to keep your personal finances separate from your freelance finances. That may mean setting up a transaction and savings account specifically for your freelance business, that ideally links to your accounting software so you can easily keep track of your finances.
6. Super contributions
Being self-employed means you don’t have an employer to make super guarantee payments on your behalf. So it’s wise to think long term, especially when it comes to retirement, and make personal contributions to super. Contributions you make to an eligible super fund may be tax deductible to you. Check the ATO Website for more information.
7. Chat to an expert
Getting expert advice could save you money. It’s worth doing some research, including asking for recommendations, to find a local tax expert or accountant with the right skills to help you.
Check out MoneySmart for helpful info and more freelancing tips.