TAX time is here and once you’ve gathered together all your income information, receipts and bank statements, your thoughts will turn to how to lodge your tax return.
If this is your first time lodging a return – perhaps because you’ve just entered the workforce, after school or university maybe, or you’re a new arrival in Australia – the process could be particularly stressful.
So, what are your options?
Use an accountant:
About 74 per cent of people who lodge a tax return choose to do so through an accountant or tax agent and it’s not difficult to understand why.
Tax is a complex business and many people prefer to leave it to the experts to get the best possible refund when tax time comes.
After all, do you understand all the deductions that you’re entitled to claim?
You might have been claiming the same items for years, but the chances are there are less well-known deductions you may know nothing about.
Accountants are good at spotting those opportunities.
You can also rely on your accountant to complete the return accurately and fast.
And, best of all, the fee your accountant charges you is tax deductable.
Make sure your accountant is registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (you can check the TPB website to see if your accountant is above-board).
Your most convenient option might be to have a chat to your local H&R Block office.
To make the process as convenient and hassle-free as possible, it’s important to come prepared to your appointment.
The other 26 per cent of lodgers choose the “do it yourself” option using the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) own lodgment software, myTax.
The ATO monitors how you complete your tax return even as you fill it in.
If myTax believes that you are, for instance, claiming an excessive amount for a deduction, a warning message will appear.
In extreme circumstances, you could be warned you’ll be audited if you continue to make that claim.
To use myTax, you first of all need to register with the Government’s online portal, myGov.
You can also lodge through myTax using your phone or tablet.
On the surface, you may think DIY lodging online is quicker, but for most people, this isn’t the case.
Once you add in the time to collate your information, look up your deductions and check to make sure you haven’t made any mistakes, the process takes much longer than an hour.
If you’re a self-lodger, you must lodge your return by 31 October 2019.
If you use an agent, you can lodge later, possibly as late as 15 May 2020.
To take advantage of those extended deadlines, you need to be registered as a client of the agent by 31 October 2019.
Once you’ve lodged your return, typically allow up to two weeks for the ATO to process and pay your refund.
They don’t send cheques anymore – you’ll need to nominate a bank account when you lodge your return and you’ll get your refund paid in by EFT in due course.
H&R Block Tasmania has been a family business since 1982 and has 10 offices statewide, employing up to 60 staff through the year.
It offers the full range of tax and accounting services for individuals and small business.