With tax season just around the corner, you may wonder “Can I lodge my own tax return, or should I use an accountant?”  

Everyone’s financial situation is different, which means our tax needs are different, too. In this article, we explore the benefits of lodging your own tax return versus having an accountant lodge it for you and explain the important ATO deadlines for lodging your tax return.  

Who should use an accountant to lodge their tax return?

There are no drawbacks to having an accountant on your team, especially as the fees you pay for tax return lodgements are tax deductible.  

Generally, people with more complex financial situations will benefit from having an accountant lodge their tax returns. Tax legislation is highly complex and ever-changing, and having a professional on board ensures that all income is reported accurately to avoid costly mistakes.  

A person with a more complex tax return might be someone who:  

  • operates independently as a sole trader or holds an Australian Business Number (ABN) 
  • manages a business or possesses an ABN for business-related activities 
  • owns investment assets in shares or real estate 
  • works as a contractor or freelancer 
  • earns income from sources outside of Australia 
  • wants to understand their finances better.  

Advantages of using an accountant to lodge your tax return

They’ll help you understand your finances and build your financial literacy

Anyone can benefit from a trusted advisor regardless of their financial circumstances. An accountant will dedicate time to understand you and your financial situation thoroughly. This 1:1 personalised approach helps you gain better insight into your finances because, as they say, knowledge is power. 

They understand the complexities of the tax system

One of the standout reasons to use an accountant is their expert knowledge of tax laws and regulations. With a deep understanding of the tax system, an accountant can simplify the tax process for you, answer any questions and ensure everything is completed correctly.  

They’ll help you get the best out of your return

Another great thing about having an accountant is their ability to help you make the most of any deductions you’re entitled to. Whether for home office expenses, depreciating assets or other deductions, an accountant can maximise your return, potentially putting more money back in your pocket. 

They can help you stay organised

Accountants are also incredibly helpful in knowing exactly what paperwork and information you need to gather for your tax return. They can offer tips on keeping records organised and even help set up systems to streamline your financial matters year-round, making tax time less daunting.  

They’ll take care of dealings with the ATO

Additionally, your accountant will represent you in all dealings with the ATO, particularly during audits or if other issues arise. This ensures smooth interactions and that your financial interests are always prioritised and protected. 

They’ll free up your time

Lastly, letting an accountant handle your tax return will free up your time and energy to focus on what you enjoy most. With experts looking after your finances, you can ensure your financial affairs are in good hands, giving you peace of mind throughout the year. 

Common mistakes people make when self-lodging their tax return

While having an accountant lodge your tax return for you is always a good option, you might decide to lodge your own tax return using Mytax, and that’s perfectly valid.  

When lodging your tax return yourself, it’s essential to go slowly to ensure you’re doing everything correctly. Here are 4 common mistakes we come across with self-lodged tax returns:  

Excluding taxable income from the return

If you omit taxable income from your tax return, you risk inaccuracies and possible legal issues. It’s essential to fully disclose all sources of income, whether they come from employment, investments, rental properties, or freelance work, to comply with tax laws and avoid potential penalties.

Claiming expenses that aren’t deductible

Claiming non-deductible expenses can lead to complications during tax audits. Understanding which costs are deductible according to current tax laws is essential so you can lodge your return accurately and reduce the risk of legal consequences.

Claiming immediate deductions for items that need to be depreciated over time

Some assets, like significantly larger or more expensive items used for business, must be depreciated over their practical life rather than deducted immediately. 

Incorrectly dividing deductions between personal and business use

Properly allocating expenses between personal and business use is critical to maintaining clear and legitimate tax records. Errors in this area, such as over-claiming business expenses, can trigger audits and result in penalties.

When is the ATO deadline for tax returns using an accountant?

If you’re lodging your tax return yourself for the previous year (July 1 – June 30), the ATO deadline is October 31, but if you have an accountant, you’re eligible to extend your tax return deadline. The extended date varies depending on individual circumstances, but in most instances, it’s until May 15 of the following year.  

How Davidsons can help you with your tax return

It’s crucial to accurately manage and report your financial data on your tax return so you can stay compliant with tax laws and achieve the best possible financial outcomes. By using an accountant to lodge your tax return, you can ensure that every aspect is accurate and that you’re taking full advantage of any available tax benefits. 

Chat with our tax return specialists

If you’ve decided you’d like an accountant to lodge your tax return for you or just want some guidance on whether you should lodge your tax return yourself, our team of expert advisors are here to help, either online or at our Geelong or Torquay offices.  

Contact our team by completing an enquiry form, calling us on 03 5221 6399 or emailing via info@davidsons.com.au

Download our income tax return checklist  

Use our checklist to ensure you include all the required information for your 2024 tax return and take advantage of any available tax benefits.  

Download our income tax return checklist for individuals 

Sign up to our monthly newsletter

Want the latest tax tips, finance news and business advice from industry experts, straight to your email? Sign up to our monthly newsletter, The General Account.  

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is factual in nature and objectively ascertainable and, therefore, does not constitute financial product advice. Importantly, the factual information that has been supplied does not take into account your personal circumstances, objectives or goals.