Why you should hire a tax accountant to maximise your profits
An investment is an asset that is purchased with the intention of making a profit in the future. The asset can be stocks, a piece of property, or something such as precious metals or coins. You can wait to receive payment when the asset is sold, or you can gain a profit from it along the way. Some examples of these types of assets include rent from property, dividends from shares, and interest from a bank account. The ATO treats different kinds of assets differently, and you can soon see your profits dwindling when tax time comes around if you are not careful.
Dividends are one of the most misunderstood assets of many people. Let’s start from the beginning.
When a company needs money for something such as an expansion, new equipment, or to increase capacity, they have several different tools to use to obtain what they need. They can go to a lending institution and get it through traditional means, apply for grants, or try to find a private investor.
Another method that they have is to offer shares of their company up to the public. The public can buy shares with the hopes of making a profit in the future when they sell them. In this case, the public acts as the lender. Some stocks pay dividends, which can provide regular income for as long as you hold the stock. Here is a bit more about what a dividend is and how it works.
When a company makes a profit, they can choose to keep some or all of it. They can also choose to make owning shares in their company more enticing by sharing some of the windfalls with their shareholders. These funds are typically distributed to shareholders in July and December.
The most common form of dividend payment is in the form of cash. This means that for tax purposes, they are taxes as a cash payment. This can have significant tax repercussions. Sometimes, the dividends can be paid through a trust or share club. Also, you can arrange to have the dividends reinvested instead of being sent to you. All of these options have different tax consequences.
If you are a shareholder, when the company makes a dividend distribution, it counts as income for the shareholder. It must be reported as such on taxes. It is always wise to keep your dividend statements because you will need them when you file your taxes.
How dividends work depends on whether you are a resident or non-resident. A non-resident of Australia can own stock in an Australian company. Residents and non-residents are taxed differently and have different tax burdens when it comes to dividends.
If you are a non-resident and became a resident later in the year, you might not have had the proper withholding taken out. In this case, you need to report the dividends on your tax form. If you are a non-resident, you cannot use a tax offset for franked dividends. However, you can use it to offset other Australian income. You will have to pay a withholding tax on unfranked dividends. You do not have to pay tax on unfranked dividends because it is considered conduit foreign income.
If you are an Australian resident, you will pay taxes based on an imputation system. This system dictates how the taxes paid on company profits should be allocated. It determines whether the tax burden belongs to the company, the shareholder, or a portion to each. This system is to make sure that a double tax is not paid on the same profits by two different entities.
When a company makes a profit, they must pay a certain amount of tax on it, typically around 30% for most companies. When an individual shareholder receives income via dividends, they pay a tax on share profit. Without the franking system, double tax jeopardy can occur where both the company and the individual pay taxes on the same profits.
When shares are franked, it means that the company has paid the taxes on the shares held by the individual. If the individual receives franked dividends, they receive a credit for tax on shares that they own. The difference between franked shares and unfranked shares is who is responsible for the tax burden on the profits.
To receive a franked dividend, you must purchase franked shares. These are shares that are already marked as having the taxes paid on them. Dividends can be fully franked or partially franked. A fully franked dividend means that the shareholder will receive a full tax credit for the shared. A partially franked dividend means that the tax burden is shared between the company and the shareholder. The franked dividend tax rate depends on which tax bracket you fall into based on your total income. If your tax rate is below the corporate tax rate of 30%, the ATO will refund the difference to you.
Unfranked dividends are just like regular stocks or investment instruments. You will have to pay the full amount of tax on any dividends or other taxes that you earn from them. They count as income and will increase your overall revenue, which could bump you up into a different tax bracket.
Franking credits refer to the offset that you receive when your tax bracket is less than what the company paid for the credits. For instance, if you own 1,000 shares of a company and the company makes $5 per share in profit. They will have to pay 30% on those shares, which is $1.75 per share. This leaves $3.50 that they can keep or distribute to shareholders as dividends. The shareholder would then receive a 30% imputation credit. This means that for 1,000 shares, the shareholder gets $2,500 in taxable income. Of this, $1,170 is dividend income, and $750 is franking credit.
As you can see, the topic of dividends can become complicated when it is tax time. Hiring a good tax accountant can help you wade through the regulations and keep the amount to which you are entitled. Here are a few tips for hiring a tax accountant.
You can help your tax accountant by taking a few simple steps. These steps will help your professional make sure that you get the proper franking credit for your stocks.
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