General advice about tax

In the spirit of keeping tax season as straight forward as possible, here are a few guidelines to get you through.

When filing tax, you’re only as good as what you can prove. So get in the habit of hanging on to all of your financial statements. This could include invoices, expense receipts and any bank statements that might relate to your business. This will help you maximise your deductions and get your return right first time, which should help you avoid any penalties or delays further down the line.
Click here for more information on record keeping.

Choosing a tax agent

Updated May 20th, 2018
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Unlimited items: $99
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Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $20. Lodge individual & company tax returns. Fast online form & free live chat.
Unlimited income items: $79
$0 when you purchase the $49 income package
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Pay with your tax refund (no upfront payment)
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $33. Lodge individual & company tax returns. Fast online form & free live chat

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Stay organised

All people work in different ways, however, most people seem to find tax season more bearable if they manage to remain organised throughout the year. So get in the habit of keeping your financial information in good shape throughout the year.

Simple things like keep expense receipts, invoices and statements separated will save you a lot of time and effort, over having to separate them all come the end of the financial year.

Don’t cut corners

Tax can occasionally be laborious, and often feels very boring, but don’t be tempted to take shortcuts, for example, estimating financial figures or guessing on any information. Incorrect tax returns can incur penalties and could result in more work further down the line, so it’s important to get it right.

So take your time, double check your calculations and be meticulous with your numbers. It may not feel exciting, but it’s better than getting audited.

What about deductions?

Deductions are the tricky part of tax. Primarily this is because it can be subjective what you can and can’t deduct. Usually you can deduct things that are essential and necessary to your income, but this is not always the case.

This is far too big a section to go into here, so for more information on deductions click the link below.

Click here for more information about tax deductions.

Can I get help?

Of course, the easiest thing to do is pay someone else to do it. There are plenty of tax specialists available all of whom will gladly take the effort of your return off you in exchange for a fee. If you really can’t face your taxes, and don’t mind paying, then it will make the whole thing a lot more bearable.

We’ve previewed some of the most popular providers of tax services in Australia, so if you’re looking for provider then be sure to browse our guides to get a sense of who can help you and what you can expect to pay.

Click here for more information on tax services available in Australia.

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Beware of scams

This is not common and shouldn’t be a problem, but be on the look out for anything suspicious. If you receive any emails claiming that you’re due huge rebates, or advising your free tax advice then be very wary, as there are scams about. All services registered to provide tax help in Australia have to be registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) so check this register to ensure that any company you deal with is legitimate.

Skepticism will pay off and if you’re ever uncomfortable about what you’re being asked to do then stay well away. Remember, if something sounds to good to be true, then it is too good to be true. Again, we’ve previewed some of the largest and most trusted tax services in Australia, all are registered with the TPB and will help you if you need it.

Tax Help Program

If you need help with something small, or have a question about an individual tax return, there is a service that can help you. It’s called the Tax Help Program and is provided by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

It is a network of trained and registered volunteers who are on hand to help people with their returns. The service is free and insightful so be sure to take full advantage if you’re stuck.

Click here for more information about the Tax Help Program.

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Finally, take a checklist. It’s really going to help you to prioritise and to keep track of what you have and haven’t done. As always is here to help. Click the link below for your very own tax checklist.

Click here for our tax checklist.

Frequently asked questions

DISCLAIMER: Many of the comments in this article are general in nature and anyone intending to apply the information to practical circumstances should seek professional advice to independently verify their interpretation and the information applicability to their own particular circumstances.

Shirley Liu

Shirley Liu is a program manager at finder, formerly the publisher for Banking and Investments. She is passionate about helping people make an informed decision, save money and find the best deal for their needs.

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