Last night’s federal budget contained the very welcome news that interest on your savings will soon receive special tax treatment. From 1 July 2011, you’ll only pay half the tax on the first $1,000 of your interest income.
This is a big win for the banking industry. The measure only applies to income earned on bank accounts, savings accounts, term deposits, bonds and annuities. It will have the effect of pulling money into the banks from other investment vehicles — and from out of cookie jars and under mattresses. And it is Mr Swan’s hope – and mine, and I’m sure yours – that this extra leg up for banks will help them gather sufficient deposits to reduce the overall cost of funding their home loan products. Wouldn’t that be nice: better savings returns and cheaper home financing. Only time will tell.
But what’s it mean for you exactly? Well, at an interest rate of 5.85% (the best standard at-call interest rate in the market right now, at UBank), you’ll be able to save up to $17,000 and receive the full rate reduction. If your taxable income is between $35,000 and $80,000 then you’ll only pay an effective tax rate of 15% on interest: that means a saving of up to $150 a year. And of course the savings are even higher if you’re on a higher rate of tax.
But here’s a savings measure you can access right now. If you already have money that’s not getting the best rate in the market, you can make $150 or more by moving it. If your 17 grand is only earning 4.50%, say in an old BankWest TeleNet Saver account, then moving it to a rate of 5.85% makes you $150 — even after paying current tax rates. And you can do better yet with a Term Deposit, where plenty of providers offer well over 6% on your money for terms as short as 6 months.