If you have multiple sources of income, various investments, possibly your own business or have lots of deductible work-related expenses, using an accountant (who’ll need to be a registered tax agent1) to prepare and lodge your tax return may be useful.
However, if the only income you earn is from your employer and you don’t have many deductions to claim, or investments you’re making money on, you might choose to lodge your tax return online yourself via myTax, which is accessible through the Australian Government’s myGov website.
If you’re not sure which way to go, here are a few pointers that might help you with your decision.
Lodging your tax return yourself
If your finances are relatively simple, you might consider lodging your own tax return (which you’ll need to do by 31 October, for the previous financial year), while saving money on what a registered tax agent might charge you.
According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the benefits of lodging your tax return online via the myTax system is it’s safe, secure and most of the information from your employer, bank and government agencies will be pre-filled for you by around late August2.
Meanwhile, even if your situation is a little more complex, you can still use myTax if you have investments, rental properties, capital gains or are a sole trader3.
On top of that, the service is available all day, every day so you can lodge your return at anytime and you’ll generally get your refund within two weeks, which may be faster than doing it another way4.
Engaging a registered tax agent
If you do want to use a registered tax agent to prepare and lodge your tax return, it’s important to note you will pay a fee for their service, but it’ll typically be deductible in next financial year.
Note, tax agents must be registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) and you can find a registered tax agent or check whether a person is registered by visiting the TPB website5.
If your finances are more complex, going down this path may provide you with peace of mind, as it could save you time, highlight deductible work-related expenses you didn’t know about, while ensuring all your claims are legitimate.
On top of that, most registered tax agents have a special lodgement program, which means they can usually lodge returns for their clients after the usual 31 October deadline, but you’ll need to contact them beforehand to ensure that’s something you can take advantage of it you want to.
Other things to note
Whether you plan to lodge your tax return yourself, or use a professional, you can use the myDeductions tool in the ATO app to save a record of your deductions throughout the financial year, which you can upload at lodgement time.
To ensure you’ve got all the relevant information you need ahead of filing your tax return, check out the ATO’s tax time checklist and for a refresh around some of the things you can claim, check out our article – Work expenses – what you can claim on tax.