Federal Budget 2015 – Workers pushed into higher tax brackets

Hundreds of thousands of Australian workers will find themselves in higher tax brackets after [the] federal budget left tax brackets unchanged.

The failure to reset tax brackets will push the average full-time worker, earning $78,000 a year, into the second-highest tax bracket in 2015-16, with any earnings over $80,000 subject to a 37 per cent tax rate, 39 per cent including the Medicare levy. As a result, the average worker will be slugged an extra $1200 in tax a year, and the average income tax rate will rise from 21.7 per cent to 27.4 per cent over the next decade.

It’s not a pretty picture.

The picture is even less pretty for the thousands of individuals who will pushed into the top tax bracket, which kicks in at $180,000… “This makes the top marginal rate 49 per cent, giving a 10 per cent hike in the marginal tax rate, so beyond $180,000 the employee loses almost half of every extra dollar earned…” notes HLB Mann Judd Sydney taxation services partner Peter Bembrick.

For families at the lower end of the pay scale, increased earnings can also mean the unwelcome end of government benefits, such as family tax benefits.

“It is important that people know their effective tax rate and not just their marginal tax rate to determine if how hard they are working is worthwhile, especially those in the lower brackets,” says the managing director of  BFG Financial Services, Suzanne Haddan.

Prescott Securities senior economist and financial adviser Alan Hutchinson says there are a number of options for taxpayers who are in danger of jumping into a higher tax bracket.

Cutting back on the hours worked is one option, although possibly not the best if there are mortgages and school fees to pay, he says. Another strategy is salary sacrificing into superannuation.

“Salary sacrificing is the main strategy available to people wanting to avoid bracket creep, and it is the one that works,” says Hutchinson.

ipacSecurities head of technical services Colin Lewis says salary-packaging motor vehicles and laptops used for work-related purposes may be an option for some employees as a way of reducing assessable income.

Employees of public benevolent institutions such as public hospitals or not-for-profit organisations are still able to salary-package almost anything including living expenses, education costs, loan and mortgage repayments, rent, credit card payments and bills, he says.

AFR Contributor

*Source Bina Brown – Australian Financial Review

See the full report here.