IT'S TAX TIME! HELPFUL INFORMATION FOR TRUCK DRIVERS
Yes, it's that time of the Year - again.
Most wage and salary earners, and those involved in small businesses, are well aware of the requirements surrounding the timely submission of their annual tax return.
It can be a time that is spent frantically trying to locate receipts and records that were hurriedly stashed in a drawer in the hope that they'd be easier to find some months later.
For long distance truck drivers, who spend many nights of the year away from their homes, the task of record keeping can be made even more difficult.
A complicated process
Most people would regard taxation law as complicated and complex. The existence of specialist tax lawyers and the abundance of accountants is evidence of the complex and changing nature of tax law.
Many people don't have the inclination, time or energy to devote a portion of their lives to preparing their tax affairs each year. For these people the use of a qualified accountant or tax agent makes good sense, and if your tax return is not overly complicated then the fees for having your tax return prepared professionally can be quite reasonable.
Over the years the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has embraced technology and introduced more efficient ways for individuals to submit their tax returns.
The ATO calls it 'myTax'. Submitting your tax return online has never been easier and the use of the integrated help screens and calculators built into the system are handy features. Of course, you need a computer, internet connection, the time and knowledge to be able to submit your tax return online.
Tools to make it easier
The ATO has developed a number of useful online guides to assist with identifying and claiming deductions (and declaring income) for various professions and industries.
The ATO guide for both long and short distance truck drivers can be found here. This helpful online tool guides truck drivers through a range of deductions
The tool also provides some links to relevant Tax Rulings that affect truck drivers. Additionally, the tool takes you step by step through the components of your tax return to ensure that you get the right information in the right spots.
To make managing your tax affairs even easier for people on the move, the ATO has also developed a useful smartphone app. Using the the smartphone app allows you to record relevant information and make copies of receipts on the go.
The data (minus the photos of any receipts) can then be uploaded directly to your tax return. The app also features a number of calculators and expense tracking features.
The app is compatible with a wide range of smartphones and can be downloaded for free at the Windows Phone Store, Google Play or the Apple app store.
The ATO have produced a quick instructional video showing how to add a deduction using the app.
If in doubt, seek advice
Whilst truck drivers are well versed in operating in an industry with complex and comprehensive rules and regulations, the complexity of taxation and submitting tax returns can be confusing and quite daunting.
Like most matters which involve compliance with legislation, penalties exist for non compliance. The ATO conducts regular audits on individual tax returns which focus on substantiation of deductions and the full declaration of income.
If you are not sure of your obligations with respect to your tax return or tax affairs generally, you should always seek advice from an appropriately qualified tax accountant or tax agent.
P.S Don't forget that tax returns for individuals for the financial year just ended are due by 31 October 2016.