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Tax time confusion spikes among small business owners, survey shows


Recent research indicates that a growing proportion of small business owners find the tax system and the process of completing a tax return confusing.

By Miranda Brownlee 12 minute read

Officeworks’ EOFY report has revealed that 93 per cent of Australians are just as confused as last year or more confused about completing their tax return.

Similarly, two-thirds of small business leaders find the tax system confusing, a 4 per cent increase from last year.

The research also found some common misconceptions are circulating the small business community in regards to the rules for tax deductions with 61 per cent falsely assuming that bank statements can be used as proof of expenses.


The survey also found that 47 per cent incorrectly believe they can claim the fixed rate method and individual working from expenses in the same return.

Around a quarter also incorrectly believe that home-to-work travel is claimable.

The research also highlighted two distinct approaches to maximising tax returns.

“One-third of Australians are looking to save money by doing their tax return themselves, a 4 per cent increase from 2023 (29 per cent), however, more than a quarter (28 per cent) are going to a professional tax agent to help maximise their return, up 4 per cent from 2023,” said Officeworks.

Financial expert and founder of Women with Cents, Natasha Janssens, said that many Australians underestimate their tax obligations, often relying on word of mouth, or believing common misconceptions that could affect their entitlements.

“With an increasing number of Australians looking to do their tax returns themselves this year, it’s more important than ever to understand what and how you can claim,” Janssens said.

“While using bank statements is common practice, it’s important to recognise their limitations as standalone proof of purchase, and misunderstanding methods and assuming standard claims can often lead to missed deductions or penalties that could impact your chances of claiming everything you’re entitled to.”

Officeworks general manager of merchandise, Jim Berndelis, said Australians want to make the most of the end of the financial year, but this research reinforces that it can be a confusing process for many.

“Our research has shown that the number of Australians keeping a physical folder of receipts has dropped (from 48 per cent in 2023 to 43 per cent in 2024), highlighting a move toward digital receipts and online tracking tools and apps, especially for Gen Z customers,” Berndelis said.

“At Officeworks, we offer both options so, whatever your preferred approach, you can keep track of your tax-deductible spend more easily heading into EOFY.”

ATO assistant commissioner Rob Thomson said for Australians planning on claiming a tax deduction for a work-related expense, the ATO has a range of resources on our website to help you get your claims right.

“Check out our range of occupation-specific guides to help you work out what you can and can’t claim – visit,” said Thomson.

“We have a number of online tools and calculators that can help you calculate your deduction correctly, including working from home, self-education and car expenses. We also have a depreciation tool to help you work out the decline in value of any depreciating assets you have purchased.”

Miranda Brownlee

Miranda Brownlee


Miranda Brownlee is the deputy editor of SMSF Adviser, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the SMSF sector.

Since joining the team in 2014, Miranda has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest superannuation stories in Australia, and has reported extensively on technical strategy and legislative updates.
Miranda also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.

You can email Miranda
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