Getting Someone Else To Do It
For at least the last decade, we have used an accountant/tax agent to file our tax returns.
Back when we started, filing tax was a hassle and not something we wanted to spend our time on. The old carbon copy forms seemed like mini-novels to be written, and took hours. Instead, once a year we would trek to the accountant to spend a pleasant hour chatting and catching up. Somewhere in there, she would ask a few questions then suddenly our tax was done. A few years ago, she left (in hindsight, it appears she actually retired early. As in FIRE. If only I’d known, or she had spoken of her plans back then!) Since she left, the experience has not been the same. The new accountant/tax agent is nice enough, however we spend the better part of an hour sitting in silence, answering the odd question. And this year I noticed a “pre-tax assessment” sitting on her desk when we walked in. A family member who completed their tax online through the portal this year had mentioned to me how easy it was – basically everything was pre-filled for them. As I watched our accountant simply tick off items on the pre-assessment list I was a little taken aback. Is this really what we are paying for?
This year I had accidentally managed to gain myself a HECS debt for a single subject (I forgot to pay upfront by the due date), and then I obviously neglected to tell my employer I was so encumbered, which means it wasn’t coming out in my tax. The upshot is…
we owe the Government $25.76.
That’s OK, it was my stuff-up and I don’t mind paying my fair taxes. However, to complete both of our returns, it cost $310. Ouch! For the first time in a long time, I am looking at the value for money in those fees. It isn’t just because we have to pay tax and ended up with a negative return – even if we had received a return, it would have been in the order of $1,100 all up. That means we are taking a 25% hit to our return each year. That’s more than many credit card rates!
A Change Is Needed
Our tax affairs are simple. We are both wage earners, employed by The Man, so we don’t have anything complex. Investments are minimal, and so far have been set and forget (although that will be changing). I am organised when it comes to collecting the paperwork to prepare for tax. Throughout the year whenever we receive something that may be tax related we place it in a drawer in the kitchen. It’s then just a matter of pulling it out and sorting it at tax time.
I think the writing is in the wall for our accountant. If we were day traders, or owned investment properties, or our own business, it might be different. However, it appears suddenly clear that my personal rate is much better than $310/45 minutes, and this is one instance where I would rather spend the time than the money. Next year I will definitely investigate the MyTax portal, however when utilising functionality like this, I am always on guard, because the scammers are everywhere.
Do you do your own tax? Why or why not?
|Time well spent this trip…|
|Book:||Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine Issue #64|
|Tabletop RPG:||Pathfinder Eberron|
|Game (Mr. ETT):||World of Tanks|