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Paying a tax agent? One in three use ATO’S DIY option

Aug 23, 2014

ONE in three Australians are choosing the do-it-yourself option at tax time and bypassing the need for an accountant to file their returns.

More than 5.09 million Australians have lodged their 2013-14 financial year tax return and it’s expected more than 1.4 million people will opt for the Australian Taxation Office’s new and simple online myTax service ahead of the October 31 deadline.

About 536,000 Australians have already used myTax to lodge and the ATO expects about 1.4 million Australians to choose this option in the next two months.

Another 872,000 Australians have used the ATO’s eTax service for more complicated returns and the average windfall handed back to Australians so far is $2661.

The Australian Taxation Office’s new myTax service has slashed the time for lodging returns with an increasing amount of pre-fill information automatically available to users opting to file using this option.

Some users have managed to file their returns using the service in as little as five minutes.

The ATO’s assistant commissioner at TaxTime, Karen Anstis, said the uptake of people using my Tax has been promising and she expects hundreds of thousands more Australians to do so using this free online portal.

She said the ATO was still receiving data from third-parties which helps making doing your own return easier.

“We receive information from a range of third-party providers, information from banks like interest, employers, private health insurers,’’ Ms Anstis said.

“It enables us to pre-fill information for people and if people are prepared to wait a bit longer they will get the full benefit from pre-fill, we expect to have all the information by early September.’’

Deakin University senior lecturer in financial planning and superannuation, Dr Adrian Raftery, said using a tax agent is worthwhile for more detailed returns but for simple, straight forward claims many people can do it themselves.

“There’s less need to get a tax agent involved if their information is already pre-filled out online,’’ he said.

“But the more complex the return then there will always be the need for a tax agent.”

The ATO has put it focus on work-related expenses including travel between home and work, overnight travel, transporting bulky tools and equipment and the work-related proportion of use for computers, phones or other electronic devices.

Last year data-matching by the ATO to check claims made resulted in more than 400,000 returns being audited and adjustments were made 90 per cent of these queried claims.

ONE in three Australians are choosing the do-it-yourself option at tax time and bypassing the need for an accountant to file their returns. 

More than 5.09 million Australians have lodged their 2013-14 financial year tax return and it’s expected more than 1.4 million people will opt for the Australian Taxation Office’s new and simple online myTax service ahead of the October 31 deadline.

About 536,000 Australians have already used myTax to lodge and the ATO expects about 1.4 million Australians to choose this option in the next two months.

Original article published in News.com.au on 23 August 2014

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