Listen: Seven Network's finance editor Gemma Acton offers some tax-time advice to Sam Robinson on Hope Breakfast
It’s easy to put off filling in that tax return – and COVID life may have added a few more reasons for why it feels even more work this time around – but here’s some help to get you on your way.
A new financial year has rolled around, and you’ve got until November 1 to fill in your tax return. But what exactly can you claim on tax, and should an accountant help you through the process? Gemma Acton, finance editor for the Seven Network, joined Hope Breakfast to offer some advice.
“COVID has really changed a lot of things around,” Gemma said.
“Working from home has affected a lot of people. Two years ago, before COVID, only about three million Australians put in working-from-home tax claims. Last year, there were about four-and-a-half million.
“I can only imagine [that number] has gone up again this year. If you’re someone who doesn’t work from home all that much, there is the shortcut method, where you add up the number of hours you worked from home and multiply it by 80 cents an hour – and that’s your claim done and dusted.”
Gemma said if you work from home more, you can individually count up items such as phone and internet expenses, but you do need to have a precise diary stating when you worked from home, proving that you’re using those items for work.
As to whether we should complete our tax return ourselves or seek an accountant, Gemma said it depends on your circumstances.
“It really depends on how complex your own affairs are,” she said.
“In my personal experience, it’s always been worth the investment to get a tax accountant. There’s different levels of tax help as well. You can get some really good online systems that will walk you through the key steps – if you don’t have a very complicated tax situation it’s a good idea.
“There are several online that will cost you less than $100.”
Gemma said this will ensure you don’t run afoul of the Tax Office, and these might even find you some savings.
If you have a complex tax situation, she said it’s very important to have a tax accountant help you, and when asked when the best time to complete your tax return, Gemma explained it’s important to wait until at least mid-July, to ensure all the pre-filled data (such as salary, health insurance details) will be there.
Gemma Acton also shared what it is about returns that the ATO will be checking closely this year, and some advice on ensuring you don’t fall for a tax scam. You can hear all of this in the player above.