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Most taxpayers ‘in the dark’ about their return result


Widespread disappointment about refunds – or even money owing – should be unsurprising, according to a CPA Australia poll.

By Philip King 10 minute read

Most taxpayers have little idea whether or not they will get a refund, according to a survey by CPA Australia, or how much it will be.

Its poll of more than 1,000 followers on LinkedIn found one in five have no idea what to expect and overall, almost three out of five are unclear about their result.

CPA Australia said many taxpayers were confused or disappointed with their return this year after changes to work-from-home deductions and the removal of LMITO.

The poll, conducted this week, asked taxpayers if they could predict the outcome of their tax return before lodgment and found just 16 per cent were “crystal clear” on the result but 37 per cent only had a rough idea and 22 per cent did not have a clue.

CPA Australia head of policy and advocacy Elinor Kasapidis said high-profile cases of disappointment with this year’s return showed taxpayer expectations were out of sync with the rule changes.

“Our poll suggests most people are in the dark over how much they will receive in their tax refund this year,” she said.

“We’re hearing many stories about people who aren’t happy with their tax refund, or finding out they actually owe the ATO money for the first time.”

“There’s a risk that people may over-estimate how much they’ll get back at tax time. This could occur because they aren’t aware of changes to the low to middle income tax offset, or because they don’t know what they can claim and aren’t keeping their records in order.”

“Many of us have been working from home more often and since March 1 you’ve been required to keep a diary of every day you’ve worked from home. You also need to have copies of your bills and receipts.”

Figures from the ATO this week, supplied to Accountants Daily, showed the average refund for returns processed during July was down by $438 compared with last year to $2,331.

However, taxpayers using an agent got a substantially better result with an average return of $2,669 against $2,228 for self-preparers.

Ms Kasapidis said many taxpayers would be helped by a better understanding of the rules or by seeking assistance, especially those with rental income or crypto currency trades.

“This result is further evidence that Australians aren’t sufficiently tax literate. Low levels of tax literacy contribute to the high level of incorrect returns lodged with the ATO.”

“Australia’s tax system is very complex. If you’re uncertain about your taxes, consult an expert.”

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Philip King

Philip King


Philip King is editor of Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Philip joined the titles in March 2022 and brings extensive experience from a variety of roles at The Australian national broadsheet daily, most recently as motoring editor. His background also takes in spells on diverse consumer and trade magazines.

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