Sydney rents drop for first time in 12 years, Domain report finds

PHOTO:  The median rent for a Sydney house dropped to $540 a week. (ABC News: Liz Pickering)

PHOTO: The median rent for a Sydney house dropped to $540 a week. (ABC News: Liz Pickering)

Sydney is no longer the nation's most expensive capital city to rent a house according to a report showing rental prices dropping for the first time in 12 years.

Canberra's house rental rates have surpassed Sydney after the average cost of renting a house in the NSW capital dropped 1.8 per cent in the last year, according to the Domain Rental Report.

Taking control of taxes year round

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TAX AND SUPER RULES CHANGE CONSTANTLY SO DON’T WAIT UNTIL TAX TIME 2019 TO CHECK-IN WITH YOUR ACCOUNTANT FOR AN UPDATE.

With the year just beginning thinking about next year’s tax may be the last thing you want to do.

However, mid-year tax planning is essential, Taxes are not just an annual event. Some Australians stress out about tax, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Preparing for your 2019 taxes throughout the year cannot only make the tax return process smoother, but it may also help to maximise your return.

Here’s 10 things you can do now to take control of your 2019 taxes:

1. LOOK BACK AT LAST YEAR’S RETURN

Hopefully by now you’ve already filed your 2018 return.

If you haven’t, now’s the time to get cracking.

However, if you’ve already done this year’s taxes, take some time to reflect back and think about the areas that were particularly demanding or complex for you.

Now is the time to plan, so that your next tax return is stress-free.

2. SET UP A SYSTEM

Much like skinning a cat – there’s more than one way to organise your tax records.

Don’t wait until the end of June to start organising your important tax documents and receipts. Have a system to keep everything in one place.

3. ADJUST YOUR PAYG

Why is it important?

The amount of PAYG tax withheld each payday determines whether you’ll get a refund, break-even, or owe tax when it comes to filing your tax return.

Whether you want your tax return to act as an annual savings plan, or prefer to breakeven, the goal is to eliminate any surprises at tax time.

4. RETAIN YOUR RECEIPTS

If you own a business or plan to claim taxable deductions, it is imperative you hold on to your receipts.

While receipts are not needed when filing your tax return, they are usually required should the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) decide to audit your tax return.

There are helpful smartphone apps to help keep track of your outgoings, but when it comes to filing, you should speak to your local chartered accountant about what you can and can’t claim, as it varies person to person, and year to year.

5. CHART YOUR CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTIONS

Fortunately, doing good for others has the benefit of giving your tax refund a boost.

Keep records of all tax-deductible gifts and contributions you make over the year.

6. SORT YOUR SUPER SAVINGS

Employers pay 9.5 per cent of employee earnings into super, but are you thinking about contributing more for your retirement yet? If you have some funds to spare, extra contributions can be tax effective.

Learn more about your super. Log into your super fund account, check your balance, and know what’s going on including what option(s) you have invested in.

7. CHECK FOR NEW TAX RULES AND POLICIES

Tax and super rules change constantly so don’t wait until tax time 2019 to check-in with your accountant for an update.

There may have been tax breaks you have taken advantage of in the past that are no longer applicable, or there may be tax legislation changes that have come into effect impacting how much tax you will owe. With a Federal Election coming in 2019, think about the tax policies of the major parties and the impact on your finances.

It pays to know.

8. POTENTIAL TAX BREAKS

The ATO offers plenty of deductions that have the potential to reduce your tax liability.

But if you’re spending the cash just to get a tax break, you may end up worse off.

9. PLAN FOR THE UNEXPECTED

Nobody likes receiving an unwanted tax or super top-up tax bill – let alone an unexpected one.

The ATO expects you to manage your cashflow and pay your tax when due.

Your local chartered accountant can help you anticipate, and plan for, your personal and business tax requirements.

10. USE A CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT

When it comes to managing your finances, you want to be sure that your money is being cared for in the best, most professional way possible.

While many can technically call themselves an ‘accountant’, how do you know you’re choosing a good one?

Chartered accountants must meet educational, ethical and professional standards. The bar is set high, so choose a CA and be in safe hands.

Michael Croker is the tax leader at Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

6 books to buy the accountant in your life

Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

As the year winds down, and our beach umbrellas come out, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) has given us the scoop on this year’s finance must-reads for 2019.

“Wherever you’re headed this summer, prioritising yourself by indulging in a great read may give you the boost you’re looking for to start 2019 off with a bang,” said a CA ANZ spokesperson.

Christmas hay a gift to farmers

FREE HAY: The Brethren Rapid Relief Team (RRT), who made a significant contribution to local drought relief locally and nationally, are helping Goulburn with their hay distribution at the recreation area on Saturday. Photo:suppliedRRT

FREE HAY: The Brethren Rapid Relief Team (RRT), who made a significant contribution to local drought relief locally and nationally, are helping Goulburn with their hay distribution at the recreation area on Saturday. Photo:suppliedRRT

GOULBURN Mulwaree Council has teamed up with the Rapid Relief Team and ARW Multigroup to give away 600 bales of hay this Saturday, December 22 between 7am and 4pm at the Goulburn Recreation Area.

Despite good rains filling dams around the district, adequate stock feed is still an issue for farmers, who have been hand feeding livestock for months. The rain has brought some pasture growth, but not enough for farmers to cease feeding. Those who have planted summer crops will need this feed going into next winter.

To help bridge the gap Goulburn Mulwaree Council is offering this hay which has been cut at the Council Wastewater Farm and is grass based. It is of a lower quality and suitable for cattle only; pickup is restricted to five bales per property.

“Farmers are asked to call Council’s Customer Service team on 4823 4444, before 12 noon, Thursday December 20 to register. To do this you will need to provide them with your name and property address, which must be located within Goulburn Mulwaree.” Mayor Bob Kirk said. “I would like to recognise the massive effort of ARW Multigroup, who cut and baled the hay and the Rapid Relief Team who will be running the distribution, loading each truck and running the barbecue.” “The rain has been brilliant and helped fill dams, but we recognise that there is still a tough summer ahead for our region.” Bales are 8 x 3 x 3, and three bales weighs around a tonne. Rapid Relief Team will load all utes and trucks, but drivers must secure their own loads.

Aussie heart hero

Matt Campbell.Picture: Iain Gillespie

Matt Campbell.Picture: Iain Gillespie

It was a flight change that saved a life.

Matt Campbell usually flies on a Monday to his FIFO job as a Rio Tinto emergency services superintendent but a change meant he found himself checking in his bag, emergency services emblazoned across his shirt, on a Tuesday morning at Perth domestic airport.

Back in rhythm

Access to a community-based defibrillator means anyone can help save a life in the vital minutes before an ambulance arrives.Picture: St John

Access to a community-based defibrillator means anyone can help save a life in the vital minutes before an ambulance arrives.Picture: St John

Cardiac arrest kills 30,000 Australians each year. For every minute that clicks over without help, a person’s chance of survival drops by 10 per cent.

Despite having an exceptional average response time, it typically takes about 10 minutes for paramedics to arrive. Apply some basic maths and you can see how quickly that survival rate diminishes.

Push for grieving parents of stillborn babies to get full paid parental leave

Lauren Martyn-Jones gave birth to twin girls Audrey and Lillian in March 2017. Tragically, Audrey was stillborn. Picture: Peter Wallis

Lauren Martyn-Jones gave birth to twin girls Audrey and Lillian in March 2017. Tragically, Audrey was stillborn. Picture: Peter Wallis

Parents who experience a stillbirth should be entitled to the full level of parental leave offered by private companies, according to the recommendations of a Senate inquiry handed down in Parliament today.

And the rates of stillbirth should be reduced by 20 per cent within three years as part of a National Stillbirth Strategy.

Matt Geale from Camden South has just become the very first Australian Hearts Ambassador

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Aussie Heart Hero Matt Geale from Camden South has just become our very first Australian Hearts Ambassador.

Here he is, putting the good word about Defibs and CPR saving lives to his local federal MP, Hon Angus Taylor. Angus Taylor MP heard how Matt saw Zoe Albrecht going into sudden cardiac arrest during her work out. And how Matt got straight to work.

Minister Taylor says he’s going to get behind the Australian Hearts cause – which is all about getting 90% of Australians within 3 minutes of an accessible Defib. Respect to all involved, including Zoe and one of the three Australian Hearts founders, Armon Hicks.

Bundeena Public School pupils make a digital mark in coding at ANSTO

Top coders: Bundeena Public School pupils Zyren Case and Rosa Phelan (pictured far right) with their coding prizes.

Top coders: Bundeena Public School pupils Zyren Case and Rosa Phelan (pictured far right) with their coding prizes.

ANSTO Discovery Centre has crowned Bundeena Public School pupils as top coders, in a competition that rewards children for their knack of numbers

Zyren Case and Rosa Phelan joined more than 100 budding robotics engineers in the 2018 ANSTO Top Coder Competition, with the grand final held at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights campus.