Doing your own tax is easier than you think


Hasty Australians have rushed in and filed their tax returns in droves in the hope of landing some extra cash in their pocket very soon.

ScoMo's recent tax cuts will leave millions of low and middle-income earners with additional cash in their wallets.

Already 1.1 million Australians have filed their tax return since July 1.

It's just what the economy needs to give it a serious rev up. But do you think you have what it takes to file your own tax return without getting a helping hand?

New research from accounting software firm MYOB quizzed 1000 Australians and found this:

• 41 per cent are reasonably confident in submitting their own tax return;

• 52 per cent have reasonable knowledge about what can be claimed at tax time;

• 14 per cent say they have excellent knowledge about tax.

For years I splashed out hundreds of dollars for accountants to do my tax come July - an expense that, yes, is tax deductible when you file your next year's return.

And Australian Taxation Office figures found in the 2017-18 financial year, 70 per cent of individuals used a professional to help them with their tax returns.

But a few years ago I decided to go it alone and do it myself. The cost of seeing my accountant was starting to climb, and what really peeved me was they were literally just copying last year's return.

A woman sorting out her receipts ahead of filing her tax return.
A woman sorting out her receipts ahead of filing her tax return.

Accountants are important if you have complicated tax affairs such as running a business, investment portfolios or you might have a self-managed super fund.

But for those who have simple, straightforward tax affairs, the ATO has made it easier than ever to fly solo.

A few days ago I logged into the ATO's myTax portal and found a heap of my personal information already there. This included my payment summaries (group certificates as we used to call them), my health insurance and Medicare info and bank interest.

I don't have all the information I need just yet so I'll wait a few weeks until I sit down and enter in any remaining information needed. But long gone are the days where you have to wait for all the relevant information to arrive in the post and then go to a tax agent to do it for you.

MyTax has been designed to make it easier for people to handle their own affairs.

The ATO's portal has helpful online guides to help you through the process, too.

And, depending on your job, it also lists things you can and cannot claim, which registered accountants use as a guide, too.

The risk, however, with doing your own tax is you might miss out on deductions

a tax agent could easily pick up.

This is where you have to weigh up if it is worth doing your tax return yourself.

Whatever you do decide, make sure you get cracking because, for most of us, it means a nice bag of cash back.