The 2015 - 2016 financial year has just ended and that means everyone needs to get on top of some basic financial tasks. Even if your only income is a Centrelink pension or benefit and you will not be paying tax this year, you may still need to complete a task on the Express Plus app or at Centrelink online to ensure you get the appropriate Family Tax Benefit and child care payments.
You need to lodge a tax return if your taxable income is over $18,200 OR your employer has deducted tax from your wages or salary. Check your PAYG payment summary from your employer to see if you have had tax withheld from your pay. Look in the box labelled "Total Tax Withheld."
If your taxable income is less than the tax-free threshold of $18,200 for the 12 months to 30 June 2016, you generally don't need to file a tax return.
If you receive the full rate of Parenting Payment, Newstart, Disability Pension, Youth Allowance or Austudy you don't need to file a tax return. However you do need to advise Centrelink that you won't be lodging a tax return this year.
You can complete an
Income earned from employment and investments (generally) is taxable income. Some Centrelink payments are also 'taxable income.'
Generally speaking all Centrelink Income Support payments are classified as taxable income and are added to any income you get from work for the purposes of determining your total taxable income for the year.
If you are not lodging a tax return, you need to complete a task on the Express Plus Centrelink to inform Centrelink that you are not required to lodge. This will ensure you continue to get the appropriate level of Family Tax Benefits and childcare payments.
You can also do this online at the Centrelink website.
If you are required to lodge a tax return this year, probably because your income from employment is over $18,200, Centrelink will automatically tell the tax office about any taxable income you received this year. If you complete your tax return via e-tax or through a tax agent, the forms will be pre-filled with your Centrelink payment information.
If you haven't already, you need to tell Medicare your bank account details. There is no longer any other option. You can only receive your Medicare rebates directly into your account. Go to Medicare online and click on Personal Details to check on your bank account details.
No one likes owing Centrelink money. The best way to try and avoid accumulating a debt is to provide an accurate estimate of your income for the next financial year. From the home page menu, click on Family Assistance, then "Update Family Income Estimate."
The Family Tax Benefit end-of-year supplement is currently up to $726.35 per child.
The Family Tax Benefit Part B end-of-year supplement is currently up to $354.05 per family.
These supplement payments are used to balance your FTB entitlements with what has already been paid to you during the year.
Assuming you receive FTB fortnightly, you may receive less than the maximum amount if your income during the year is higher than your original family income estimate for the year.
The Turnbull Liberal/National government proposes to phase down these end of year supplements to zero by 2018. This proposal is yet to pass the senate.
Getting on top of these fairly straightforward tasks will maximise your benefits and minimise your end-of-year stress levels. Happy new financial year!
Business & Finance Journalist
Jason is a business and finance journalist with 20 years experience, and is also a member of the SingleMum.com.au Expert Opinion Panel. He has a regular weekly column in the Sunday Mail (Brisbane) and writes regularly for the Business Daily section of the Herald Sun in Melbourne and many other newspapers and magazines. Read Jason Bryce's full profile here
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