A surge in Australians racing to file their 2019 tax returns has prompted experts to urge taxpayers to take their time to ensure they don’t miss out on maximising their returns.
With Parliament recently passing the government’s proposed raft of tax cuts, there has been a dramatic increase in taxpayers rushing to lodge their returns online.
These changes have been the catalyst for a surge in the lodgement of online returns, with more than two million returns already submitted, a 24 per cent increase on last year.
No need for urgency
But experts have stressed there’s no reason to rush.
Indeed, you may be better off to engage the services of a tax agent to ensure you maximise your tax return.
Ben Greenwell, National Tax and Finance Manager, Trustees at Australian Unity, says tax agents are the optimum choice when it comes to correctly claiming deductions.
“My advice is to always engage a tax agent,” he says. “A tax agent will always review your situation, make sure you’ve claimed everything that’s reasonable, and go through reasonable tests to make sure what you are claiming is true and correct.”
Utilising a tax agent also gives taxpayers extra time to lodge their return, further eliminating any need to rush to file.
“By lodging through a tax agent, you don’t have to lodge by the 31st of October,” Ben says. “You’ve got up until – depending on what your tax affairs are like – the 15th of May or the 3rd of June, 2020.
“So there is always plenty of time to lodge. But I would first recommend engaging a tax agent because they work within this space very heavily and they understand all the implications of different deductions. They will help you navigate what is a very complex tax system to make sure you get both the best and the most accurate outcome for your personal tax affairs.”
The Australian Tax Office has also urged taxpayers to show some restraint and wait before lodging a return.
Historical data shows people who file in the first few weeks of July are more likely to submit returns with incomplete data or errors in their income estimates.
“Each year we generally encourage people to wait a few weeks before lodging so that we can serve them better,” an ATO spokesperson says. “That enables more time for income statements from employers, bank interest and private health insurance details to be pre-filled, making lodging an easier process.”
New process for income statements
MyTax is the ATO’s online portal, and is where your income statement is now sent.
According to the ATO, if your employer reports your income, tax and super information to the ATO through Single Touch Payroll (STP), they are no longer required to give you a payment summary. This information will be made available to you through MyTax via the myGov website and will be finalised by 31 July.
If your employer is not yet reporting through the STP system, they will continue to provide you with a payment summary by 14 July, as they have previously.
If you use a tax agent to process your return, they will be able to access your payment summary or income statement information through their software or the Tax Agent Portal.
However, if your employer is reporting through STP, your agent will need to wait until the income statement has been marked online as 'Tax ready' to lodge your return. Employers have until 31 July to do this.
In addition, you will receive a notification in your myGov inbox when your income statements are ready to be processed.
The low and middle income tax offsets for financial year 2018-19 have increased from a maximum amount of $530 to $1,080 per annum and the base amount has also increased from $200 to $255 per annum
There has also been an increase from $87,000 to $90,000 to the top threshold for the 32.5 per cent bracket.
Individual circumstances are different for everyone, so the amount of your refund, including your tax offset, will differ. Other factors include the amount of tax paid throughout the financial year, as well as your level of income.
Australian Unity Personal Financial Services Ltd (‘AUPFS’) ABN 26 098 725 145, AFSL & Australian Credit Licence 234459. AUPFS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Australian Unity Limited. Any advice on this site is general only and does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You should obtain independent financial advice relevant to your circumstances before making any decisions. Please refer to our Financial Services Guide.