Abstract image of a map of financial maze with help to navigate it

Navigating Your Finances: Top Free Resources for Australians

Abstract image of a map of financial maze with help to navigate it

Navigating Your Finances: Top Free Resources for Australians

Step into the world of financial clarity with our guide to Australia's premier free advice websites. Whether you're planning for retirement or looking to maximize your Centrelink benefits, our list connects you to the essential resources needed to make informed financial decisions.

Government and Non-Profit Websites

  1. ASIC's MoneySmart (moneysmart.gov.au)Offers a broad spectrum of financial guidance, including retirement planning, understanding superannuation, and managing debts. Its resources are comprehensive, making it a go-to for Australians seeking financial advice.
  2. Australian Taxation Office (ATO) (ato.gov.au)The ATO provides detailed information on personal taxation, superannuation, and saving on taxes. It's an authoritative source for understanding your tax obligations and benefits.
  3. Department of Social Services (dss.gov.au)For maximizing Centrelink benefits, the Department of Social Services offers guidelines and updates on eligibility and claims for various social security payments.
  4. National Debt Helpline (ndh.org.au)A not-for-profit service offering free advice on managing debt. It's a valuable resource for individuals struggling with financial obligations and seeking ways to get back on track.
  5. SuperGuide (superguide.com.au)Specializes in superannuation advice, helping individuals understand and make the most out of their superannuation funds for retirement planning and tax saving.

International Websites with Global Relevance

  1. Investopedia (investopedia.com)A leading source of financial content, covering a wide range of topics from retirement planning to tax strategies and investment advice. Its comprehensive educational material is useful worldwide.

Specialized Advice Websites

Aged Care Advice and Planning

  1. My Aged Care (myagedcare.gov.au)The Australian Government's starting point on your aged care journey, offering advice on care services, eligibility, and financial information related to aged care.

Saving Tax on Superannuation & Other Taxation

  1. Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (charteredaccountantsanz.com)Provides resources and guidance on various aspects of taxation and financial planning, helping individuals navigate complex tax laws.

Maximising Centrelink Benefit Claims

  1. Services Australia (servicesaustralia.gov.au)Offers comprehensive details on Centrelink payments and services, providing essential information to maximize benefit claims.

Saving Capital Gains Tax on Investments

  1. The Conversation (theconversation.com/au)Offers insightful articles on policy, including taxation strategies and investment advice, written by academics and industry experts.

Managing and Getting Out of Debt

  1. Financial Counselling Australia (financialcounsellingaustralia.org.au)Provides information and support for dealing with various forms of debt, offering access to free financial counselling services.

Mortgage Selection

  1. Choice (choice.com.au)Independent consumer advocacy group that reviews and compares financial products, including mortgages, offering unbiased advice to help consumers make informed decisions.

Life Insurance Selection

  1. Canstar (canstar.com.au)A financial comparison site that provides ratings and comparisons for life insurance products, helping individuals find the right coverage for their needs.

Choosing an Accountant

  1. CPA Australia (cpaaustralia.com.au)Offers a directory of certified practicing accountants in Australia, allowing individuals to find a reputable accountant for personal or business needs.

Choosing a Financial Adviser

  1. Financial Planning Association of Australia (fpa.com.au)Provides a Find a Planner tool that helps individuals locate a certified financial planner who can offer tailored advice based on personal financial situations.

Educational Resources

These websites offer a wealth of educational materials on various financial topics, making them invaluable resources for self-education:

  1. Khan Academy (khanacademy.org)Offers free courses on personal finance, investments, and economics, suitable for beginners and advanced learners alike.
  2. Coursera (coursera.org)Provides access to courses from universities and colleges around the world, including several on financial planning, investment, and tax strategies.
  3. edX (edx.org)Offers online courses from prestigious institutions covering a range of topics, including personal finance and financial analysis.

By utilizing these websites, Australians can gain access to a wealth of information and advice covering all areas of financial planning and management. Whether you're seeking to navigate the complexities of aged care planning, optimize your retirement savings, manage debt, or make informed decisions on investments and insurance, these resources provide the knowledge and tools needed to make confident and informed financial decisions.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.

If you link Bank A savings account to Bank A investment loan account as an offset account, does the deposit and withdrawal activity in the offset account impact deductibility of interest charged to the investment loan account?

No it doesn't affect the interest deductibility.

This remains the case where you have a savings account linked to your loan account as an offset account.

The savings account and loan account, while linked, are separate accounts.

While deposits and withdrawals in the offset account will increase or decrease the amount of interest charged to the investment loan account, the deposits are not repayments of the loan and the withdrawals are not new borrowings.

The use of the borrowed funds is not affected by the deposit and withdrawal activity in the offset account.

You can claim borrowing expenses greater than $100 over a five year period or over the life of the loan whichever is the least. You can claim all of the following borrowing costs

• stamp duty charged on mortgage (note this is not the stamp duty on purchase of the property)
• loan establishment fees
• title search fees charged by the lender
• costs for preparing and filing the mortgage documents
• mortgage broker fees
• valuation fees for loan approval
• lender’s mortgage insurance

It is important in the first year that you don’t claim the full amount amortised over the five year period but you will need to apportion the first years borrowing costs over the number of days between the date you took out the loan and the end of that particular financial year. Another common mistake is either not claiming the borrowing costs at all or claiming them all in the first year the loan is taken out.

If a loan has been taken out and has a mix of private and investment/business components (something we recommend you really try to avoid and work together with your accountant and mortgage broker to prevent getting into this sticky situation) then the borrowing expenses also need apportioned.

What is the Market Value for the Small Business CGT Concessions

Syttadel Holdings Pty Ltd sold a CGT asset, the Spinnaker Sound marina at Sandstone Point, in August 2006 for $8.9 million.

Syttadel had acquired the asset, comprising land, buildings, marina berths, goodwill and plant and equipment, in June 1996 for $1.675 million.

The venture was not initially profitable but by 2006 its net profit was $280,306. The majority of the revenue was earned from the hiring of wet berths and dry storage and some income was received from the lease of commercial premises within the marina and the sale of fuel.

Mr Godden, a director and member of Syttadel gave evidence about several enquiries and offers to purchase the marina over time. One, at $2.5 million was made in 2004 – it was rejected because the proposed purchaser wanted vendor finance. The first ‘serious offer’ was made in mid-2005 and was for $3.7 million. A written offer of $4 million was made by the same prospective purchaser in February or March 2006. It was not accepted as Mr Godden ‘was hoping for a price closer to $4.5 million’.

Whilst these dealings were taking place a consortium led by a local real estate agent enquired at what price Mr Godden would be prepared to sell. He replied ‘$9 million’, which response he said was made ‘tongue in cheek’ with the figure of $9 million being ‘completely over the top’.

The consortium negotiated with Mr Godden and a written contract for the sale and purchase of the marina at $8.7 million was executed in early December 2005. The purchaser, World Housing Corporation Pty Ltd, ultimately failed to complete the transaction and forfeited its deposit.

After that Mr Godden had further dealings with the local real estate agent which led to the execution of a new contract, dated 4 July 2006, by which Spinnaker Sound Joint Venture Pty Ltd agreed to purchase the marina as a going concern for $8.9 million. The contract was completed on 14 August 2006.

Syttadel submitted a private ruling request to the Commissioner in November 2008 requesting that the Commissioner rule that, despite the sale at $8.9 million, the market value of the marina was in the range of $4 million to $4.5 million so that Syttadel would be eligible for the small business CGT concessions. The Commissioner ruled on 25 November 2008 that the value of the asset was its sale price and that Syttadel did not qualify for concessional capital gains tax treatment.

Syttadel objected to the ruling, but by then an assessment had issued, and the Commissioner treated the objection as being one against the assessment. The Commissioner disallowed the objection.

The Tribunal mentioned that both parties made reference to the passages from Spencer v The Commonwealth (1907) 5 CLR 418 where Griffith CJ said,

In my judgment the test of value of land is to be determined, not by inquiring what price a man desiring to sell could actually have obtained for it on a given day, i.e., whether there was in fact on that day a willing buyer, but by inquiring ‘What would a man desiring to buy the land have had to pay for it on that day to a vendor will to sell it for a fair price but not desirous to sell?’

and where Isaacs J said

To arrive at the value of the land at that date, we have, as I conceive, to suppose it sold then, not by means of a forced sale, but by voluntary bargaining between the plaintiff and a purchaser, willing to trade, but neither of them so anxious to do so that he would overlook any ordinary business consideration. We must further suppose both to be perfectly acquainted with the land, and cognizant of all circumstances which might affect its value, either advantageously or prejudicially, including its situation, character, quality, proximity to conveniences or inconveniences, its surrounding
features, the then present demand for land, and the likelihood, as then appearing to persons best capable of forming an opinion, of a rise or fall for what reason soever in the amount which one would otherwise be willing to fix as the value of the property.

The Tribunal also noted that the parties agreed that the market value of the land had to take into account the highest and best use of the land.

The Tribunal had been provided with two valuations, one for the company where the value was set at $4.5 million, and one for the ATO where the valuer had originally set a value of $6.3 million but revised that down to $5.3 million.

The Tribunal were unprepared to accept the $4.5 million valuation figure as the Deputy President did not agree with the valuation methodology employed. The company’s valuer had set the value as being the value at which the vendor would be prepared to sell, and justified this by valuing the component parts of the marina using capitalization rates of 9% and 12%. The ATO’s valuer by contrast had used capitalization rates of 6% which the Deputy President considered ‘appropriate rate having regard to the market evidence and the potential for future growth but taking account the generally poor condition of the marina’. The ATO’s valuer had also supported their valuation by using comparable sales data.

As the Tribunal was unprepared to accept the company’s valuation it held that the small business CGT concessions would not be available.

Capital Allowances and Impact on Capital Gains Tax

Many people ask how capital allowances impact on the calculation of the capital gain when disposing of a property.  Capital allowances are covered by Division 43 of the Tax Act.  Effectively this allows someone to claim a write-off for the building construction costs over a period of time.

If a taxpayer is selling an investment property that was acquired after 13 May 1997 then they must reduce the cost base of that property by any Division 43 capital allowances that they have claimed.  If a capital loss is made on the sale of an investment property the reduced cost base must generally be reduced by any Division 43 capital allowances that the taxpayer was entitled to claim regardless of when the property was acquired.

If a taxpayer is selling an investment property that was acquired on or before 13 May 1997 the cost base of that property will only be reduced where the deductions relate to improvement expenditure incurred after 30 June 1999 and which is included in the fourth element of the cost base.

It is important for people selling investment properties that if capital allowances have been claimed the vendor is required to provide the purchaser with a written notice containing information that will allow the purchaser to calculate the remaining capital allowances.  The vendor needs to consider this as part of the sale if the building commenced construction after 26 February 1992.  This notification must be provided within 6 months after the end of the year of the income in which the property was sold or penalties can apply for the vendor.  This is something frequently overlooked by both parties.

If the taxpayer has not claimed the Division 43 capital allowance they are however required to reduce the cost base by the amounts they could have claimed regardless of whether they have been claimed or not by virtue of s110-45(2) of ITAA 1997 and s 110-45(4) of the ITAA 1997. Taxation Determination TD 2005/47 also deals with this issue http://law.ato.gov.au/atolaw/view.htm?docid=TXD/TD200547/NAT/ATO/00001. This is something which is frequently identified during audit and can result in penalties and interest if the taxpayer or their accountant have not identified this during their calculation of the capital gain.

However the ATO does provide a concession to not reduce the cost base where

  • the taxpayer does not have sufficient information to determine the property’s construction expenditure ; and
  • the taxpayer does not seek to claim any deduction for the capital allowance.

PS LA 2006/1 does not require the taxpayer to obtain a depreciation schedule to determine the amount of any eligible claim however as noted above as the vendor is required to provide the purchaser with notification of any remaining capital allowances to be written off then many times this information will be available for the taxpayer and the concession will not apply.  As with all aspects of tax law the devil is in the detail and House of Wealth can deal with your clients property investment and the tax related consequences can assist in dealing with this area of tax law.

Property Inheritance and Taxes

The passing away of someone you love is a tragic event but not taking into account the tax considerations on sale of any property you receive from an inheritance as part of that estate can cause further grief.

Main Residence

If the property was used as the main residence of the deceased then any capital gain or loss on a dwelling acquired by an individual as a beneficiary of deceased estate or by the trustee of a deceased estate will be fully exempt if

  1. the dwelling was the deceased’s main residence just before they died or it was the deceased’s pre-CGT property; and
  2. the dwelling was disposed of within two years of the deceased’s death, or it was, from the time of death until the disposal, the main residence of
  • the spouse of the deceased
  • an individual who had the right to occupy the dwelling under the will of the deceased ; or
  • a beneficiary

3. then need to consider a number of events with your adviser.

Careful planning needs to be undertaken to ensure that this event is planned for.

For all other property, other than your main residence or other dwelling e.g. an investment property, you will need to determine whether the property is a pre-CGT asset (purchased prior to 20 Sept 1985) or a post-CGT asset (purchased after 20 Sept 1985).

Pre CGT Assets of the Deceased

If the property you inherit was acquired by the deceased prior to 20 September 1985 you will be deemed to have acquired the property for its market value on the day the deceased died.  It will then be a post CGT asset for you.  You will need to hold the property for more than 12 months from the date the deceased died in order to obtain the 50% general CGT discount.

Remember though the special rules in Section 118-195 ITAA 1997.  If the property was acquired by the deceased prior to Sept 1985 and you dispose of that property within 2 years of the deceased date of death there will be no CGT on the sale of that property.  Many accountants do not read the table in Section 118-195 properly and think it is to be read like most tables.  However s118-195 makes it very clear only one condition in Column 3 and one condition in Column 2 is required.  It is a matrix not a table.  We have seen this to be a common mistake made by many accountants.

Post CGT Assets of the Deceased

If the property you inherit, other than your main residence (discussed above) or other dwelling e.g. an investment property which are subject to special rules (worth discussing with your adviser), was acquired by the deceased on or after 20 September 1985 you will be deemed to have acquired the property for the cost base and the reduced cost base that applied to the deceased.  You will need to hold the property for more than 12 months from the date the deceased acquired the property to obtain the 50% general CGT discount.

They say that two things in life are certain.  Death and taxes.  Unfortunately the two are often intertwined.  House of Wealth are able to assist with the preparation of a deceased clients tax return.

Can you claim a deduction for 100% of interest incurred on an investment loan held in joint names where the title of the investment property is in your name only?

Yes you can.

Taxation Ruling TR 93/32 considers the division of net income or loss between co-owners of a rental property. TR 93/32 states that net income or loss from a rental property must be shared according to the legal interest of the owners, except in those very limited circumstances where there is sufficient evidence to establish that the equitable interest is different from the legal title. Legal interest is determined by the legal title to a property.

TR 93/32 states that where the title deed of a rental property indicates sole ownership of the property, and the mortgage is held in joint names, the legal owner can claim the full amount of the interest paid.

In example 5 of the ruling it states:

The fact that Mr Z has paid all the expenses on the property is of no consequence for income tax purposes. We would simply treat the payment of Mrs Z's share of the expenses by Mr Z as no more than a loan by Mr Z to Mrs Z.