Most business owners know that they can claim a deduction for paying a registered tax agent to prepare and lodge their tax return. However many may not know that the regulations that provide for this deduction operate in a different way compared with other tax rules that allow expenses.
Why should taxpayers care which particular rule allows them to get a deduction for paying their accountant? Because in this case the specific regulations operating here create unique opportunities for business owners, especially where their affairs involve multiple taxpayers.
What are the basics?
Before discussing how to use this rule to your advantage, let’s look at the basics. If your tax agent issues you an invoice for a) managing a taxpayer’s tax affairs, or b) complying with an obligation imposed on another taxpayer by a Commonwealth law (insofar as that obligation relates to the tax affairs of that entity), then, as long as the accountant is a registered tax or BAS agent (or legal practitioner) a deduction can generally be claimed by the person on the invoice. This rule is subject to a number of conditions (most of which are common sense, and more specific details on these conditions can be obtained from this office).
Don’t I need to earn assessable income?
No — unlike most expenses that require a taxpayer to earn assessable income before they are able to make a claim, this type of expense can be claimed even where a taxpayer earns absolutely no assessable income. In other words, this type of expense can create a carried forward tax loss for an entity that can be offset against income from future financial years.
Tax affairs of another entity can be claimed?
Yes — where a taxpayer incurs an expense (that is invoiced) for preparation and lodgement of a tax return or for managing the tax affairs of someone else, they can claim a deduction under this rule.
This might be useful where a spouse in a couple earns much more than the other spouse (and therefore is subject to a higher tax rate) because the spouse on the higher income can claim a deduction for managing the affairs of his or her partner. This also becomes useful when an accountant invoices an individual taxpayer in relation to a business run within a company or trust. However, a taxpayer must be wary that a super fund should not pay accounting fees for an individual because of the interaction with super regulations.
The bottom line is that you can be flexible in terms of which entity (person/company) is invoiced for managing the tax affairs and therefore who can claim the tax deduction.
Contact us should you wish to pursue this potentially valuable strategy.