Don't cram for tax time

Posted by Matt Connor on 28 June 2017
Don't cram for tax time

I had a friend at university who always left assignments to the night before they were due. He would literally never start anything until the very last minute. Somehow he would always pass, but I never understood why he would put himself through such a ridiculous amount of stress.

These days I see the same approach from a lot of people to their tax planning. They spend 11 and a half months ignoring their taxes and then two weeks with their hair on fire trying to pull it all together. Like my old uni mate, they usually make it, but it's far from a pleasant experience.

It doesn't have to be like this

Look, I get it. Tax Accounts are a weird bunch. We actually enjoy poring over people's books and get excited when we zero in on a clever deduction.

Most people (that is, "normal" people) don't get quite as much joy from the process. The thing is, whether we like it or not there's no getting away from our taxes. But there are ways to make the experience a little less painful.

Set up a good structure

When you're tackling a big assignment it always pays to map out a good structure before you start writing. Same goes for your taxes.

If you set up a good structure for keep track of transactions and reporting you're already halfway there. Organised filing, clear processes and accurate records will save you a heap of angst come tax time.

Bite it off a piece at a time

As my uni mate proved over and over, it is possible to write a whole assignment in one night - it just takes a lot of Red Bull and sleep deprivation, and what you produce at the end is generally rubbish (even if it ends up being passable rubbish).

A better way to go is create a plan to keep on top of things throughout the process. For your taxes, that might mean setting aside a couple of hours each month to accurately reconcile expenses and make notes about questions you need to ask your accountant.

If you're organised and disciplined, by the time June rolls around you'll already be mostly done.

Make a New (Financial) Year's resolution

Okay, I know that's not really a thing - but it should be. In a few days it will be 30 June, so if you're not already organised it's far too late to avoid the big tax cram this financial year.

But the day after that is 1 July. Just like on New Year's Day, the new financial year brings new possibilities. And the best time to make a resolution about the year ahead is when you're still suffering from a hangover from the year before!

So if you've spent the last couple of weeks frantically going through faded receipts and wracking your brain to interpret strange scribbles on scraps of paper, make yourself a promise: next financial year I'll get organised. Then make sure you don't break it!

Posted in: News Tax Budget Planning Risk management   0 Comments

Another round of not so super reform

Posted by Sean O'Kane on 16 June 2017
Another round of not so super reform

After years of watching the Federal Government tinker with superannuation rules, most professionals in the industry have been pleading for the system to finally be left alone. By its very nature super is a long-term investment - it's hard to plan for the distant future when every year the government shifts the goalposts.

Unfortunately we're going to need to put a good bend on the ball again because in 2017/18 those posts are moving once more.

What should I be most worried about?

Without doubt the biggest concern for most medical professionals is the reduction in the cap on before-tax concessional contributions. This is a particular issue for professionals who are mid-career and still very much in wealth accumulation mode.

At the moment the cap is $30,000 if you're under 49 and $35,000 if you're over 49. From July 1, everyone's cap will be $25,000. Anyone who makes extra contributions through salary sacrificing for example, should speak to an adviser and take a look at how the changes will affect them.

This is a particularly urgent issue for anyone who hasn't used all of this year's cap as there's still time to put additional money in your account before the rules change.

What if I'm looking to retire soon?

Probably the biggest change for those near retirement is that there will now be a limit of $1.6 million that can be placed in income stream accounts.

If you have more than $1.6 million you can transfer the balance into an accumulation account or you might want to consider making a contribution to your spouse's account. There are a number of options available, but again it's important to speak to an expert who can provide advice on the best strategy for your individual circumstances.

Is there any good news?

Yes! If there's a small ray of light in the midst of all this gloom it's that from 1 July anyone can make a deductible super contribution - not just the self-employed. This will make it much easier for everyone to fully utilise concessional contribution allowances and get maximum tax benefits.

A good plan of attack

The unfortunate reality is that the changes to super that will begin next month are so wide-reaching that almost everyone will be affected in some way. The most important thing to do is take a holistic view of your investment strategy and what role super needs to play in it from 1 July.

It is absolutely still worth maximising your superannuation, but many people will also benefit from some strategic changes to their investment mix.

In short - get some professional advice and do it quickly.

Posted in: Tax Wealth Creation Budget Financial planning superannuation Planning Investment Financial independence Diversified portfolio   0 Comments

More sweet than sour in Budget 2017

Posted by Matt Connor on 10 May 2017
More sweet than sour in Budget 2017

Far from the bitter pill of previous years, the 2017 budget has more in common with children's cough syrup -  pleasant enough (if a little sickly sweet), but with an unmistakeable strangeness that's hard to identify.
So what does it all mean for medical professionals? It's a mixed bag, but on balance the news is mostly good. In fact, Chartered Accountants have even described it as a budget that positions the government for a possible early election.

So let's start with the bad news.

 

BAD - increased Medicare Levy

Funding certainty for the NDIS is certainly admirable, but using a 0.5 percent increase to the Medicare Levy is fairly blunt way to do it. For higher incomes earners the removal of the Temporary Budget Repair Levy from 1 July will offer some tax relief.

 

GOOD -  Medicare rebates

Groundhog Day is over! After a four year freeze the government is finally increasing Medicare rebates. That means more money back to patients and more money flowing through to doctors. Win win.

 

GOOD - capital assets write off

In an unexpected bonus the government has extended the $20,000 capital assets write off for small businesses for another year. That means if you didn't get around to upgrading your computer system or replacing surgery equipment, there's still time. There's no guarantee Mr Morrison will be quite so generous next year so it's a good time to assess your practice's needs.

 

GOOD -  help for first home buyers

The ability to salary sacrifice to save for a first home deposit is a real boon for many early career medical professionals. The housing market might still be hotter than a Colourbond roof in January, but this measure at least makes scraping together a down payment a little easier.

 

EVEN -  deductions for investment properties

Under pressure from many to reform negative gearing, the government has chosen to the give the system a slight trim, rather than a haircut. The deductions that will no longer be available to property investors aren't anything to get too worried about (as far as expenses go, nothing comes close to rivalling bank interest) however, it is still prudent to make sure you're not counting on a now-banned deduction.

If you're looking for more detail on the winners and losers from this year's budget the ABC have produced an outstanding infographic you can view online here.

But of course, if you're looking for specific advice about your personal circumstances, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.
Posted in: News Tax Budget   0 Comments

Playing interest rate chicken

Posted by Sean O'Kane on 4 May 2017
Playing interest rate chicken

 

It's a classic scene from James Dean's iconic movie, Rebel Without a Cause: two alpha males in hotted up cars driving towards a cliff. Whoever jumps first is the chicken. The trick is knowing when to make your move, so you don't end up plunging into the ocean like Jimmy's rival!

It often feels like you're playing a similar game watching interest rates drop. If you've got a mortgage, when do you flinch?

 

Is this as good as it gets?


The first thing everyone wants to know is, will interest rates go any lower? While there's no way to know for certain the answer is, probably not. The current Reserve Bank cash rate is 1.5 percent - the lowest it has been in more than 40 years. While it is possible rates could go lower, most economists believe we have now bottomed out and the next movement - when it comes - will be up.

 

Does it even matter?


The short answer is no. Even if rates were to be cut by another quarter percent, the current rate of 1.5 percent is extraordinarily low and represents a huge opportunity for mortgage holders. There's very little to be gained by holding on for the possibility of another rate cut - it's time to jump out of the car!

 

What should mortgage holders do?


The greatest opportunity mortgage holders have is to pay off large chunks of their principal while the interest component is relatively small. To do this, you have to resist the temptation posed by Splurge Fever and pour as much surplus cash as possible into your loan. Doing this will mean you'll be in a much stronger position when interest rates start to move north - and they will! It's only a matter of when.

The other thing to consider is fixing a portion of your loan as a hedge again further rate rises. What percentage you choose to fix is a discussion you should have with your financial planner, based on your individual goals and what level of risk you are prepared to accept.

 

A once in two generations opportunity!


Interest rates this low are extremely rare. While the fact it's been 40 years since they were last this low doesn't mean it will be another four decades before we see these conditions again, it does mean it's extremely rare. The smart move is to take every advantage possible of such a unique set of economic circumstances. Don't end up plunging into the deep, dark Californian ocean!

Posted in: News Wealth Creation Budget Financial planning Planning Mortgages Financial independence Risk management   0 Comments

Become a part of our new home!

Posted by Medical Financial Group on 22 March 2017
Become a part of our new home!

We recently moved into our new office in Fortitude Valley, just down the road from our old base.

We're in the process of finalising our interior fitout and we'd like to invite you to be a part of it. A glass wall in our office will shortly be covered in an opaque film and we'd like to cover it with words to inspire us.

Our passion is helping you plan for financial independence, but we want to hear about what your passions are. We'd like to invite you to submit three words that describe what you're passionate about via this survey form. It can be anything you like! Whatever gets your juices flowing.

On 27 March we'll close the survey and use a selection of the submitted words on our new wall. It's your chance to genuinely make your mark on our new office!

Posted in: News   0 Comments

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The information on this site is of a general nature. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration, so you should look at your own financial position, objectives and requirements and seek financial advice before making any financial decisions.

The financial planning services are provided by Medical Financial Pty Ltd trading as Medical Financial Planning (AFSL 506557)