by Rod Bristow
The end of the financial year heralds a flurry of squeezing of final deductions, finalising accounts and collating group certificates and receipts…then what?
If you have a straightforward return, you might be able to navigate your way through the Australian Tax Office (ATO)’s online system myTax through your myGov account. If your complete your return yourself online, you will need to lodge it by the 31st of October.
However, if you use a registered tax agent, you may be able stretch past this deadline. Tax agents will charge a fee to compile and lodge your return – but the good news is, generally this fee is deductible in the next financial year. The benefit of using a tax agent is they keep up with tax law reforms, and can advise on what you can and can’t claim, while maximising your deductions and expenses. Always make sure your agent is registered with the Tax Practitioners Board. They should display the TPB symbol and their number at their practice, or you search online at tpb.gov.au.
Different tax agents will charge different rates and the way you pay may also vary. Some may charge you up front irrespective of whether you are expecting a refund or not. Others may take their fee out of your expected income before it hits your bank account. Always be sure to read the fine print and make sure you are comfortable with how your refund is handled. Once you find a tax agent you trust and works well for you – stick with them! It could be a very prosperous relationship.
For convenience, some tax agents will set up kiosks at shopping centres through until October 31. This can be a convenient way for those who don’t have a lot of time to lodge their claims. While established names like H&R Block will run some of these, others may be run by individuals or companies you’ve never heard of before.
In some cases, you may owe the tax office money. In these cases, it’s important to make contact with your agent or the ATO to work out a payment plan.
If you are lucky enough to receive a refund, it’s important to put that money to good use. Many of us think of it as ‘free money’, and in a way – it is. But think of all the good (albeit practical) uses to put that money towards. Could it pay off a credit card (or put a dint in it)? Could it pay next semester’s school fees? Could it top up your home deposit and get you that much closer to buying a house? Or would it be more useful in your superannuation, growing for the future?
By all means – if it’s been a while since you’ve had a holiday or a splurge, then your refund is a great way to indulge without affecting your normal budget. But if it’s extra money, think of all the good it could do in the future. An Infocus Adviser can help you figure out the best place to park your refund and any other ‘spare’ cash to grow for the future.
Managing Director and CEO