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Your top tax questions, answered

 

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Tax can be a complicated topic for many of us, so we asked H&R Block’s director of tax communications to answer some of the top questions that come across his desk. 

When will I get my refund?

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) commits to paying a refund in most case within 10 business days. However, very often, your refund will be processed much more quickly – about 5 days is the average.

Note that if you are planning to lodge early, the ATO won’t start processing refunds until sometime in the second week of July, so you need to factor this into your timescales.

What can I claim as a deduction?

If you have spent something as part of your work, and you have the paperwork to prove it, you’re entitled to claim it. Amongst the common deductions many taxpayers claim are:

  1. Costs of using your own car for work. This doesn’t include driving to and from work!
  2. Costs of travelling for work. If you are required to work away from home, and you spend on meals and accommodation, those costs are often deductible.
  3. Costs of tools and other equipment. Items costing $300 or less are deductible immediately. Items costing more than $300 are deductible over several years. Things you could claim include tools for a tradie, a laptop for an office worker or even a handbag or briefcase used to carry work papers.

However, you can only claim what you’ve spent. So, don’t inflate deductions in order to get a bigger refund and only claim for costs you can prove you spent, by producing an invoice, receipt or bank statement for instance.

You can also claim deductions which arose in connection earning other forms of assessable income, such as rent on a property, dividends on shares, etc.

How do I lodge my tax return?

You can use a tax accountant or tax agent, like H&R Block, or do it yourself. If you use an accountant, make sure your accountant is registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (you can check the TPB website to see if your accountant is above-board).

To make the process as convenient and hassle-free as possible, it’s important to come prepared to your appointment if you choose to use a tax agent. This Tax Checklist has a list of all the documents you need to get your taxes done quickly and accurately.

Alternatively, you can lodge yourself through the government’s online portal myTax. On the surface, you may think DIY lodging online is quicker, but this isn’t always the case.

What are some of the benefits for lodging through a tax agent?

Self-lodgers must lodge their return by 31 October, but if you are signed up with a tax agent by that date, you get an extended due date of 15th May 2023 – over 6 months later.

In addition, if you self-lodge and get your tax return wrong, the comeback is on you, either with a lower refund or ATO penalties.

Most people (70% of all Australians, according to our research!) find it far less stressful to leave it to an agent to complete their return. This ensures the return will be accurate and complete, whilst an experienced agent will often be good at sniffing out obscure tax deductions you didn’t know you could claim. Best of all, the tax agent’s fee is deductible!

This article does not constitute tax advice. For more information on tax matters, visit ATO.gov.au. 

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