Easy Tax Returns with E-Tax
I just couldn't do it, though. No matter how hard I tried the money burnt a hole in my pocket and every week I would come home from the toyshop with a gimmicky toy from the front counter.
How I Met the Taxman
As I grew up my saving habits didn't improve much. Then, one afternoon a friend told me she had just got $1000 back from tax!
I didn't know who tax was but I was determined to make him my best friend. I wanted to be given money too! Thus began my obsession with the taxman.
I gobbled up every bit of information that came my way regarding tax, like:
- Did you know you might be able to claim for the cost of your work uniform?
- Or the cost of washing it?
- Or that you might be able to claim study expenses like books and stationery?
I became a crazy woman, keeping all my receipts just in case I could claim the money back.
How Tax Works
Tax isn't really free money - this was one of my first lessons with tax. Basically the government taxes everyone. Part of everyone's wage is chopped off and given to the government to build roads, hospitals - whatever the nation needs, really - before it hits your bank account.
A tax return is when the government looks at how much you've earned and - if you've paid more than you should have over the year - gives you back some of the tax you've paid.
The only part of lodging a tax return I hated was lugging all my documents, receipts (and boy did I have a lot of receipts), wage slips and bank statements to the accountant.
It wasn't until last year that I stumbled across something that would change my relationship with the taxman forever: an online tax return system. Since this discovery I have been cheating on my taxman and have started a secret affair with his online brother, e-tax (new window).
Here's a rundown of the benefits of using the e-tax online service.
The first few times I did my tax return I paid an accountant for their services. It's not that bad, because you can choose to have the fee deducted from your return so you don't have to hand over any cash.
When you do your tax yourself, though, it's free. Yup, you heard right - e-tax is completely and utterly free.
I must admit here that my very first experience of lodging a tax return was a little confronting. The accountant asked me all these questions about what I'd spent, what I'd earned, what type of bank accounts I had... I found it quite daunting to be put on the spot like that.
My thoughtful e-tax man would never do that to me, though. He is designed to be user friendly! There is even an option to have some sections automatically filled with information from other organisations, like bank interest, HECS-HELP amounts and Medicare details, which saves you time.
E-tax also has a rollover function, meaning if you lodged a return with e-tax last year, and you are using the same computer, some of your details can be automatically input into your new claim.
It's still important to read questions carefully, though, and to answer everything truthfully because intentionally lying on your tax return is an offence. If you realise any details on your tax return are incorrect, Mr E-tax can't save you from yourself - you need to contact the ATO as soon as possible.
If you get confused answering any of the questions in e-tax you can always call the ATO on 13 28 61 for help.
"What about security?" I hear you ask. You don't need to worry about that with e-tax. Ever the knight in shinning armour, he is filled to the brim with security measures. All the data transmissions from e-tax use encryptions that prevent unauthorised access.
As well as the above reasons, here's a few more reasons why I know that Mr E-tax is "the one":
- It's convenient - available 24 hours a day 7 days a week
- It has built in checks and calculators to make sure you are filling out your form right
- Most refunds are issued within 12 business days, so you get your money fast!
Unfortunately e-tax isn't yet compatible with Macs or Linux computers. With your Mac, though, e-tax can still work if you have Windows emulation software.
What Are You Waiting For?
By now you either think I'm a raving lunatic talking about affairs and relationships with a computer tax system or you too are spellbound by the thought of your tax return and have already mentally spent every cent.
Either way, if you are curious you should watch the e-tax in five easy steps video (new window) and decide if it’s is for you. You’ll also find other helpful tax tips. Tell the taxman I said hi!
For more articles about Managing money, check out our Articles archive. And for more about Tax, check out our Tax page.
Articles Written by Lauren J
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