H&R Block's latest research warns against the dangers of self-lodging your tax return using DIY tools, such as myTax. The research found that 3.3 million self-lodging Australians could be missing out on up to $300 million in unclaimed tax - approximately 39% of people had missed out on refunds averaging $237.44 each.
Self-lodgers are also at risk of an ATO audit through either over-claiming or under-declaring, and 20% of those surveyed owed the ATO an average of $828.35. Taxpayers in this situation are not only at risk of a stressful audit, they also face severe consequences including full repayment of the tax shortfall, plus penalties of up to 95% of the amount underpaid at an interest rate of over 9% per annum.
59% of returns containing serious errors
Most self-lodgers (97%) are confident of the accuracy of their return, however, the survey shows that over half are getting it wrong with 59% of returns containing serious errors. Within the survey, Australians admit they aren't fully aware of the types of deductions they can and can't legally claim – two thirds of people believed they could claim illegal deductions, such as childcare costs and travel to and from work.
South Australia had the highest proportion of incorrect lodgement
Looking at a state breakdown, South Australia had the highest proportion of incorrect lodgement, and New South Wales the lowest. Victorians had the highest amount, on average, owed back to the ATO, and Queensland had the most instances of under claiming.
According to the research, 48% of people don't think that drivers working for a ride-sharing service like Uber have to declare their income, even though the ATO has highlighted this as an area where tax has to be paid and compliance action is taken against those who don't come clean.
Use a professional tax agent
H&R Block's advice to taxpayers is simple; if you want to be confident that your tax return is accurate and your deductions maximised, use a professional tax agent.
For those who still prefer to self-lodge, H&R Block's DIY online tax return service ensures a registered tax agent checks your return for accuracy before it is submitted to the ATO, reducing the risk of serious errors and consequences.
For self-lodgers with more complex finances, H&R Block suggests the use of its Online Tax Adviser service, where a virtual tax agent works with you to ensure you claim every deduction possible and maximise your return.
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