The Tax Deadline Approaches In Australia.

After putting it off for as long as possible, (as usual) I decided that this week I was going to file my tax returns for both my personal and business accounts. Being as the deadline is the 28th of February, I didn’t see the point in trying to put it off much longer.

Sorting out my taxes was something I’d always dreaded in England and filing them for the first time in a different country only adds to that dread. But I do have a system to speed the process up. To explain, I need to go back about nine months.

Both my wife and I decided to form limited company’s, or PTY’s as they are called here. A local accountant said he could set one up for around $850, about £385. There were a hatful of companies on the Internet who would do the same for around $600. But, if you did it yourself, you could do it for $400, which is the fee charged by the Australian government. So I let my wife form her company first and she did all the paperwork herself. She obviously did a good job because two weeks later her limited company certificate came through in the post. So I copied what she did. It was easy!

I liked this system of doing things so much, I extended it to incorporate our tax returns. Three days ago my wife sat down at the PC, and began to file her personal tax return online. About two hours later, she was still there.

“How’s it going?” I asked. ” I’m on screen number 213 at the moment and they want to know if I have received any farming subsidies this year” was the disappointing reply. I suggested she log off while I went to grab the phone book. I knew I couldn’t copy her online work on this occasion and it sounded tough going. Time to call an expert.

Yesterday morning we both sat in front of a very pleasant man called Aaron for about an hour. He completed out tax returns and sent them straight off to the taxman. He gave us a photo copies (just 6 pages per set) for our records. We gave him $140 for the pair. Money well spent. Job done. Just one small problem. The deadline for personal taxes was 31st October. Oops! He thinks they might let us off.

Well, only half done. We both still needed to file our limited company returns. We’d got quotes from three accountants and the rates varied from $600 to $900. Our new friend Aaron quoted $550. But as we had both formed our limited companies just two months before the Australian year end, which is 30th of June, we decided to do than ourselves. It can’t be that hard doing accounts for two months, can it?

No, it can’t. My wife did hers first and it took her about five hours. Mine took much, much less. You’ve got to have a system! OK, admitted, the benefit of copying helped, but, just 6 simple pages again. I have no idea what the never ending online forms were about, but I love their paper version.

After I had completed my company’s taxes, I did have two or three questions that I felt I needed to ask. There were places where, unfortunately, it appeared that simply copying my wife’s return was not going to work. So I telephoned the helpline and got past an unusually simple automated questions sequence, only to be met with the customary ” we are all busy” message.

But wait a minute. It wasn’t so customary. This one was different! I didn’t have to listen to someone telling me to ” please hold, your call is important to us……. blah blah blah…….. as soon as the next operator is available…blah blah blah…. you are moving up the queue…..blah blah blah” constantly looping around and periodically being interrupted by loud intolerable music.

No! I got “I am sorry, all our Service Representatives are busy. If you would like us to call you back please press one. If you would prefer to hold on, please press three”. Gosh! Service Representatives – that sounds nice. Going to call me back? Wow! I pressed one.

Three minutes later, I got the call back. My enthusiasm for their efficiency was dented slightly by the fact that I was called back by a recorded message which appeared to dump me straight back into the queue. But as I was connected to a real person, sorry, Service Representative within about a minute and a half, their system certainly gets the thumbs up from me.

First I spoke to Andrea. She was so polite and so helpful it was untrue, would put most private company’s Customer Services Representatives to shame. There was one question which she wasn’t sure of the answer. We discussed it for a while until at some point I said that I felt I should be putting my answer down as “No”. She agreed, but went on to say that she would flag it up the line and if someone else feels it should have been a ” yes” – then someone would phone me within 48 hours.

I joked that I didn’t want to get it wrong, I was too young for prison. “Oh, we don’t do things like that here” she said. Lester Piggot and Ken Dodd would have loved this place.

I then got put through to Matthew to deal with a different query. “G’day mate, how’s it going?” – yes they really do say g’day and mate a lot here. It’s that bloke talking to bloke thing again. Very friendly and very genuine at the same time.

A pleasant brush with the tax office.

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