Lets talk about Tax Help

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30 August, 2019

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A lot of people find lodging their tax return a little overwhelming. Whether it is your first time dealing with tax or you are running a business and can't afford to pay for professional help, even if you're new to the country and don't understand the expectations of the tax system, there is help available that can save you falling into a lifetime of tax anxiety.

The ATO has several Tax Help programs that can help you for free. All across Australia the ATO in conjunction with a range of community centres, Universites and organisations, have registered and accredited volunteers or supervised students and Tax presentations to help.

PERSONAL TAX RETURNS

Tax Help is a network of ATO-trained and accredited community volunteers who provide a free and confidential service to help people complete their tax returns online using MyTax. Tax Help is available from July to October in all capital cities and many regional areas across Australia.

You are eligible for Tax Help if your income is around $60,000 or less for the income year and you did not:

•work as a contractor, for example a contract cleaner or taxi driver (have an ABN)

•run a business, including as a sole trader

•have partnership or trust matters

•sell shares or an investment property

•own a rental property

•have capital gains tax (CGT)

•receive royalties

•receive distributions from a trust, other than a managed fund

•receive foreign income, other than a foreign pension or annuity.


NATIONAL TAX CLINIC PROGRAM

The National Tax Clinic program is a government-funded initiative to help people who may not be able to afford professional advice and representation with their tax affairs.

This program is available to eligible individuals, small businesses, not-for-profit organisations and charities.

The ATO supports this initiative but the tax clinics operate independently from the ATO. UniSA has been funded to run the tax clinics and are available in the Adelaide CBD and Hackham West campus.

Qualified clinic managers supervise students, studying tax-related courses, to provide free tax advice and support at the clinics.


TAX INFORMATION PRESENTATIONS

The ATO offers presentations to increase people’s awareness about Tax as is relevant to their circumstances. 

The sessions they currently have planned in SA are available at https://lets-talk.ato.gov.au/sbworkshopssa

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I often find that it’s around this time of the year when the shiny excitement of Christmas has well and truly worn off.

We all went through that strange period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve when we didn’t know what day it was. Easter buns then made a sudden and controversial appearance in supermarkets just days into the new year with Easter eggs following closely behind, in abundance. You may have already spent all the money on the gift card you received from your aunt as department stores push back-to-school items to the front of the aisles where the Christmas decorations once sparkled.

Christmas 2019 has now well and truly been left behind with credit card payments already eating into your 2020 earnings.

There are 8,760 hours in a year and Christmas Day makes up 24 yet planning for those brief hours of indulgence can take weeks of effort and sometime months of repayments. Here on the Helpline, we see the repercussions that the cost of Christmas can have on people’s financial situations. If not budgeted for, the ripple effect of Christmas can lead to electricity disconnections, defaults on credit reports, etc.

If the 2019 festive season caused you financial stress, consider starting to plan now…Christmas is only 336 days away!

We sat down with our Financial Counsellors and Financial Capability Workers here on the Helpline to discuss ways to plan for Christmas 2020.

‘One way to approach Christmas 2020 is to look at what you roughly spent in 2019 and divide that into fortnightly amounts (or however you get paid) and put that amount away each fortnight into a separate bank account or Christmas Club’.

‘Work out early on who is going to host Christmas lunch because if it is your turn, you may have to put extra money aside’.

‘If you are casually employed, find out early if your employer is closing over the Christmas break and for how long so you can start putting money aside now to cover essential living expenses while you are not working’.

‘Consider alternative options before signing up for a Christmas Hamper’ -https://www.affordablesa.com.au/news-articles/dont-let-a-christmas-hamper-put-a-damper-on-your-finances

For more tips on how to plan for Christmas 2020, see the attached link from the Moneysmart website, '12 Money Tips for Christmas’.

Christmas should be a time of enjoying family and friends without stressing about making basic ends meet. If you're counting the costs not the calories with each bite of the Christmas pudding, then you're setting yourself up for the Post-Christmas Blues and destined to lose any of the magic that Christmas brings.

If you've started 2020 and you are struggling with the financial repercussions of Christmas, call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 to speak to a free Financial Counsellor about your options or search for The National Debt Helpline on the Affordable SA App.

[By Sam](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/team/sam)

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Think outside the box

Our lives are filled with stuff.

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Self-Storage can be a useful option for some people. However, as Financial Counsellors we often speak to people who have a storage unit but due to financial hardship have fallen behind on their payments. What people may not realise is that some storage facilities may not release your belongings to you unless you are up to date with your payments. Furthermore, if you fall too far behind on your payments your belongings may be sold at auction.

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- Can some of my belongings be stored electronically (e.g. documents and photos)?

- Will I need the items within the next 12 months? If not, could the items be sold or donated?

If you have fallen behind on your storage repayments and you would like to talk to a Financial Counsellor about your situation, call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or search for the National Debt Helpline on the Affordable SA App.

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