It’s officially tax time and officially the worst time of year for so many Australians with many loathing completing their return. Usually, that panic is exacerbated by a lack of knowledge, planning and time constraints for many busy workers. For whatever reason, we feel that we should be able to handle our returns ourselves and don’t want to outlay any extra dollars to get it done by a professional.
But what most Aussies don’t realise is that outsourcing to an accountant is actually the best way to get through ‘taxing’ times – and can even often come out way ahead.
Your tax return doesn’t have to be costly
Prices stay low during July and August as accountants receive a large influx of clients in the lead up to the 31 October deadline. At this time of year, our tax return prices start from $130.
This runs counter to most normal markets; where high demand usually pushes prices up. The fact is, accountants know that people need to get their returns in by a strict deadline and are more than happy to assist! Plus, whatever you spend completing your return can be claimed the next year.
Your accountant can be personable and helpful
Rightly or wrongly, accountants have often been labelled boring geeks without people skills. This is the difference between a good and bad accountant. A good accountant will be interested in building rapport with their clients and truly gaining and understanding of each individual’s financial situation. Solid people skills are one thing, but great attention to detail is another! It’s worth shopping around to find the person who understands your receipts and deduction entitlements the best.
Your accountant will help make you audit ready
There is a big belief out there that if you use an accountant you’re more like to get audited, and that if you go it alone you can slip under the radar. Not true! No one is immune to the ATO, they pick different industry groups and areas to target each financial year (this year they’re cracking down on bogus work-related expenses). No accountant can promise that you’ll escape an audit (and avoid any that do) but they can certainly make sure that you’re well and truly prepared.
You should keep your records for at least five years. A good accountant will make sure that you haven’t underpaid (or overpaid) your taxes and that you always have your paperwork in order. These days you don’t have to keep those records on paper, it’s perfectly fine to have electronic records. And the tax office accepts electronic substantiation of expenses. There are now even apps where you can literally take a photo of the receipt and store.
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