Tax Returns can be scary

At least once a year, we get a visit from each our clients. Not many professions can say this (maybe doctors, dentists and chemists get that kind of regularity), and it’s one of the reasons I love what I do.

For some, their annual tax return appointment is an experience they look forward to. Some still get dressed up in their Sunday best for the visit, bless them; these people make me want to be a better person in general!

For others, it’s a traumatic experience, and they leave it as late as possible. In fact, some will avoid it for a number of years.

We had a client like this just recently, he was over ten years behind in his lodgements and was so stressed about it that he was experiencing serious medical issues. The end result for him was a refund for every single year he lodged retrospectively.

Every. $

Single. $

Year. $

Hard cash, just sitting there at the ATO, waiting for him to claim what was rightfully his. The ATO were most generous in overlooking the late fees, and this gentleman left our office richer in so many ways as a result.  He has promised to come and visit us every year in August from now on.

So this begs the question; why can getting your tax done bring on so much stress?  Maybe it’s a fear of the unknown, maybe you’ve been stung with a payable in the past, maybe it’s just too hard to get all your documents in order.  So, what can we do to minimise this stress next year?

We’ve pulled together a list of things you can do to reduce the stress of lodging your tax return.

  1. Find yourself a tax agent you can talk to and trust. Contrary to popular opinion, not all accountants are boring. Many are lovely, will explain everything to you and work with you for the best result. They will act in your interest (not the ATO) and just like your doctor, if they say something you don’t agree with, get a second opinion.  If you haven’t found an accountant who fits this bill, keep looking.
  2. Find an easy way to keep track of all the pesky paperwork. Gone are the days when you had to do hours of prep work to visit your accountant. There are some amazing free resources available to help you keep track of all your work related spending. Nowadays you can utilise these free apps and options to make life so much easier (but that’s a topic for another time).
  3. Get it done sooner rather than later. The outcome of having your tax return done is rarely as bad as you think it will be, and the longer you let it rattle around in your head, the worse it can seem.  If your tax return is ready to be done, just do it. Typically, even if you have a payable, you will have plenty of time to prepare for the bill. Knowing is far less stressful than fretting about the unknown.
  4. When anything out of the ordinary is in play, get specialist advice. Some examples might be:
    1. You use your own motor vehicle heaps for work
    1. You travel away from home for work
    1. You spend heaps of money on specialist tech equipment for your job
    1. You sell something major in the year, like investments, business or likewise

In these instances it is worth getting specialist advice to both maximise your deductions, and get clarity on the best way to deal with those big ticket items. A good tax agent and accountant can provide you with invaluable advice to firstly make sure you’re clear on what you can and can’t claim and the paperwork you’re required to keep, and secondly the quickest and easiest way to create and keep these records.

At the end of the day, more than 4 out of 5 of our clients get a refund on their tax return. This is your money, don’t leave it with the ATO to manage any longer than you have to!

We love helping our clients get the best result for their personal tax. Come and see whether we are a good fit for you.

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