Submitting a tax return is a compulsory task for the large majority of Australian workers. It is common for taxpayers to make many mistakes when submitting their tax return, it is therefore important that you educate yourself and seek professional advice from an accountant to ensure that you avoid making mistakes so that you avoid getting a call from the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

Craig Dangar from Vault Accountants says that there many things a person should make sure they do before they lodge their tax return.

Check your records and make sure you know what you can claim. There are a lot of apps for recording your expenses. We also offer to start the tax return process for returning customers, ask us here for more details,” says Craig Dangar.

There are plenty of mistakes that taxpayers make when they lodge their tax return and during his career as an accountant Craig Dangar has seen his fair share of outrageous claims being made by taxpayers.

“Some of the biggest mistakes I have seen individuals make when preparing to lodge their tax return include; making claims that are not realistic, the important three; no laundry claim unless you have a compulsory work uniform, no $300 automatic claim (without receipts) you need to demonstrate you have spent the money, finally just because a friend, family member, your dog walker or someone at the BBQ claimed it doesn’t mean its accurate,” says Craig Dangar.

Depending on how much money you get on your refund and your current financial situation every Australian will have a different attitude towards how they should spend the money they receive on their tax return.

“The accountant in me says save it, the pragmatist in me says pay off debt, the realist says bring yourself a little joy,” says Craig Dangar.

It usually takes about two weeks for a taxpayer to receive their refund but sometimes there can be delays for a number of different reasons.

“14 days is normal, delays are generally if you have got it wrong or there is information that is yet to arrive, we recommend waiting until the end of July before lodging,” says Craig Dangar.

For Australians who are living overseas you need be aware that “If you are a tax resident for Australia than you have to lodge. The ATO has the ability to tax on worldwide income so get advice,” says Craig Dangar.

Furthermore, for foreign workers who are employed by an Australian business you need to aware of that the chances are you will need to lodge a return regardless of your income.   

Some of the most common things that taxpayers forget to include in their tax return are money made from side hustles, offshore earnings and bonuses.

For most of the time the taxpayers that receive the largest refunds are usually medical practitioners. They are generally the highest due to income protection costs and medical insurance. This is usually always the case.   

In recent years there has been an increase in tax related scams occurring with scammers trying to impersonate at the ATO and get money and personal information from taxpayers.

“In terms of the types of tax related scams that have been occurring, the major concern is non-tax agents lodging returns, which occurs when they use your myGov log in to lodge. The other sad situation is where people are cold called by scammers pretending to be the ATO. The ATO will NEVER ask you to pay in gift cards or bitcoin, EVER…,” says Craig Dangar.

There are plenty of things a taxpayer can do to protect themselves and reduce the risk of them becoming a victim of a tax related scam.

“If your tax agent tells you that they need your myGov login details to lodge your return, run away. Unfortunately, the majority of scammer cold calls prey on the elderly, it’s a hard one to stop without more education,” says Craig Dangar.

“Tax returns are relatively straightforward until they are not, one rule, if it sounds too good to be true, avoid it or get advice and just because someone else is claiming it don’t make the same mistake,” says Craig Dangar.