It’s everyone’s favourite/dreaded time of year, so here are a few tips to help it go smoothly.
1: Don’t forget to lodge. No, seriously. I can’t count how many of our clients sheepishly explain that they just sort of never got around to it for the past five years or are, y’know, ‘pretty good about doing it most years’.
Just Do It. Doing your taxes can be scary or difficult or just plain boring but unless you want $1,500 per year in fines + penalty interest added to your debt, knuckle down and make it happen. The ATO recommends that you do this after mid August, to ensure maximum possible pre-filled data ihas been received and minimal effort on your side.
2: “But I can’t afford an accountant!” We hear this one a lot too. And yeah, we know it can be tough for sole traders or small businesses who are great at their jobs but maybe not so great at their books – but you know what you can’t afford? Ten years of work followed by crippling levels of debt. You’re the one who has to get the accountants all the information anyway, so you’ve already done half the work! Consider doing it yourself or ask your accountant if they can take their fee from an expected return or in the form of a payment arrangement.
If you want help building your DIY skills, head on over to https://www.smallbusiness.wa.gov.au/business-advice/taxation for online information – there are also local offices! Are you capable with a phone or computer? Because there’s even an app for it now (for non-sole-traders, you still get the online web portal).
Into audio-visual learning? Try the ATO’s playlist of Tax Basics for Small Businesses here.
And if all else fails, don’t forget to touch base with the ATO directly! They’re a friendly bunch who are pretty dedicated to making the obligations we all share as easy as they can for us – so head on over to https://www.ato.gov.au/Newsroom/smallbusiness/ to see what they have on offer!
3: “I’ve been on a Government Pension for ten years and never lodged!” Well you probably should have been. As of time of writing, you must lodge if you receive any of the following:
- The Age Pension
- Carer Payments
- Youth Allowance
- The Disability Support Pension
- The Child Disability Allowance
- The Carer Adjustment Payment and,
- The Veterans’ Affairs Disability Pensions and Allowances.
If you haven’t been, don’t be scared. Unless you’ve been concealing income or actively defrauding the Government, there is no reason for the ATO to penalise you. If you hadn’t realised you were supposed to lodge, just explain that and ask for guidance on what to do now.
If you should have any penalty fees or interest from undeclared past income, ask them to explain their figures and – if you dispute them – ask them what you need to do to object to their assessment or get a neutral third party to review it.
If you don’t dispute it, the ATO will help you come to an affordable repayment arrangement and have the power to waive penalties if they can see you’re making an honest go of making good on your debt.
If all this sounds too confusing or difficult, you can always come see a Financial Counsellor for information and assistance. Call Midlas on 08 9250 2123 to make a free, confidential appointment or – if you live too far away – call 1800 007 007 to find someone closer.
4: If you earn less than $60,000 p.a, have no complex finances (not a sole trader, have your own business, have shares or investment properties and have no outstanding lodgements) you can get free help at tax time from ATO-trained volunteers! Call 13 28 61 to find out more.
Midlas Mission: We partner with individuals and organisations to promote independence, strength and wellbeing in our community through support, advocacy and education.