Frequently Asked Questions

Personal Tax Advice

I can do my tax online now - why do I need you?

There’s no doubt the ATO’s data matching capabilities have improved over the past few years and the ATO has tried very hard to streamline the tax lodgement process for individual tax payers. However there are numerous valuable reasons why you should have your tax return completed by a registered tax agent:

  1. You might be missing out! There are certain tax deductions that you may not know about, and you are therefore missing out on part of your refund! This is relevant not only for self employed people but also employees of other businesses.
  2. Laws relating to what you can and can’t claim if you hold investments such as rental properties is constantly changing. Negotiating these changing laws on your own is a bit like building your own BBQ in the backyard without reading and understanding the instructions. Yes you might get a ‘version’ of the finished article but it’s unlikely to give you the best possible outcome and in some cases could end in a complete disaster!
  3. Getting your tax return completed by a good tax agent provides you with a great opportunity to ask questions. These could be about the tax return being completed, or about something you might be considering in the future. For example, perhaps you’re thinking about salary packaging or purchasing a car, perhaps you’re thinking about purchasing an investment property and want to know how that might impact your tax position. Perhaps you’re thinking about working for yourself or you’re interested in purchasing a business and need some general advice to help with your decision making and so on.
  4. The fee for preparation of your tax return(s) is 100% tax deductible in the financial year it’s paid!
What do I need to bring to my consultation?

Our Individual Tax Return Client Information Form will help you bring all the necessary information to your consultation.

Make sure you know your Tax File Number, have access to your PAYG summary (from your employer/s), information about bank interest and the full list of expenses.

Which expenses are tax deductible?

This is a complex question, and can be a trap – don’t get caught claiming the wrong things!

As an example, some meals are claimable and some are not allowable tax deductions. If you are travelling for work and staying overnight, then meals are tax deductible. If you are travelling for work but NOT staying overnight, then meals are not tax deductible.

We will provide comprehensive advice on tax deductible expenses as part of your tax consultation. In the meantime, we can provide a detailed guideline of tax deductible expenses.

I use my car for work a lot. Can I claim a tax deduction on my vehicle?

Broadly speaking, if you use your car for work-related purposes, during work time, then you can claim a tax deduction. There are a few ways you can figure out how much to claim, and we will help you decide which way is best.

The best thing to do is keep a logbook, where you record all of your work-related trips. This should be for a minimum of 12 weeks. You should also keep your receipts for any vehicle-related expenditure.

How can I keep track of all the paperwork I need for my Income Tax Return consultation?

Do you forget where your receipts are? Left the logbook at home again? Not sure if you’re getting paid the correct amount of super?

Help is here!

The Garis Group has developed a fantastic app that keeps all of your records in one place. With an in-built logbook, a receipt manager, a suite of tax calculators and important reminders, we put the power in your hands and take the hassle out of tax time!

Click here for Apple.

Click here for Android.

Small Business Advice

Which business structure is best for me?

This is a complex question and the correct answer (sole trader; partnership; company; trust) depends on a wide range of factors. Some things we will discuss with you to make sure you have the best possible structure include:

  • The size and expected growth of your business
  • How many owners there will be now and in the future
  • The risks of business and whether litigation is a concern
  • Whether you will have employees
  • The impact and availability of tax concessions, e.g. Capital Gains Tax
Which accounting software should I use?

We will work with you no matter what software you are using, e.g. MYOB, Quickbooks, Xero, Reckon.

We will work with you if you aren’t using any software at all!

We are a Certified Xero Advisor and will happily show you the benefits of using cloud accounting software, but we will support you regardless of what you use. If you like what you see, we can help you transition over to a new system and keep your business running smoothly.

What records do I need to keep?

You will need to keep a wide range of documents – and we have great solutions to help you do this. In general you will need to keep all of the following:

  • Bank statements (regularly reconciled)
  • All expenditure receipts and tax invoices
  • Details of all equipment lease and other rental or loan arrangements
  • Details of ALL your income (cash, credit card transactions, bank transfers, capital gains, investment, interest, etc.)
  • Copies of all Business Activity Statements and Instalment Activity Statements
  • Evidence of all superannuation paid out
  • Previous tax returns
  • Contact details of your previous accountant
How should I keep all these records?

We will help you figure out the best way that suits you and how you operate. We have a great app that helps you document all your financial dealings, and also helps keep you on track with deadlines.

We also know some great software that can help you in your day-to-day, but also give you great insights into your business strategy and position.

Apart from doing my tax, why do I need an accountant?

Sorting your tax out is just the start. Every business needs to know how they are travelling and whether they are heading in the right direction. Our advisors like to focus on YOUR business and help you get the best out of it.

We provide useful advice so that you can be confident in what you do:

  • Benchmarking against other businesses in your industry
  • Detailed forecasting and analysis to keep you on track
  • Streamlining your processes so you can focus on the important things
  • Budgeting and cashflow – giving you better control

Take a look at the full range of accounting services we provide.

What industry-specific advice will you provide me?

The Garis Group has a wealth of experience in a range of industries, especially HospitalityConstruction, TourismHealth / Aged Care and Professional Services. We understand deeply how these industries function and why they differ. We employ industry specialists who have walked the walk as an operator – not just the money guys – so we can help you in detail.

We work with industry groups such as the Hunter Culinary Association to ensure you receive the right advice where and when you need it.

Investing in Your Future

How do I know if my super fund is really working for me?

It’s hard to know whether you’re really getting the best out of a super fund. You don’t have much control, and you also can’t respond quickly if you want to make the most of a potential investment opportunity.

The difference between a high performing super fund and a mid range super fund can end up being tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars! We will help you unlock the best possible future from your superannuation and provide the flexibility and control you need.

What is a Self Managed Super Fund?

A self managed superannuation fund (SMSF) is a superannuation trust structure that is set up for between one & four members to save for retirement. The main difference between SMSFs and other super funds is that the members of the fund also act as trustees – this means they have much greater control over how, where and why investments are made.

Why is it called Self Managed Super Fund if I need my accountant to do it?

It’s a bad name isn’t it! Managing a super fund is a highly specialised area, and only suitably qualified professionals should do it. Take a look at this video from the ATO that outlines the complexities involved.

At The Garis Group our mantra is to help you create a beautiful financial future. We offer a great management service for your superannuation investment, along with taking a holistic look at your financial situation and long-term needs.

Head on over to and make the most out of your future.

What are the costs involved in a Self Managed Super Fund?

No matter what type of superannuation fund you may choose (SMSF, retail fund or industry fund) there will be costs associated with the administration of the fund. Such costs will include administration and accounting costs as well as investment management fees.

One major benefit of a SMSF is that the more you have invested – the more you save on costs!

Even better, as you move from the accumulation phase to the pension phase, the implementation of an estate planning strategy is much easier and more cost effective with an SMSF. In addition, under a traditional retail or industry fund, assets are ‘pooled’ with other investments and when assets are sold down to provide funds for pensions, higher transaction costs are incurred. Such costs are significantly less in a SMSF.

This is a big decision. How do I know you are the right choice for me?

We would love to talk to you so you can make that decision yourself! We’ve been around for a long time and have seen the good, the bad and the ugly, especially when it comes to bad apples in the investment world.

We work with only the most reputable of providers, and we are completely transparent in all our dealings. We deliver solid advice to help our clients build their wealth and asset base to create a beautiful financial future for themselves and their loved ones.