In spite of continual warnings that compliance work is drying up for accountants, H&R Block’s director of tax communications, Mark Chapman, said the ATO’s myTax failures, which prevented thousands of taxpayers from lodging their 2015 tax return online, prove the value of accountants at tax time.
“They’re now telling people to avoid myTax until August,” Mr Chapman told AccountantsDaily. “If you’re a taxpayer looking to get a refund as fast as possible, that’s not really the sort of advice people want to hear.
“Accountants are not generally affected by anything that’s going on with myTax. That doesn’t just apply to H&R Block, but to all accountants. It’s an area where they can continue to add value.”
Mr Chapman is also confident that once myTax is fully functioning, accountants will continue to be a necessity, noting there are some services myTax “simply can’t fulfil”.
“For some more complex tax returns, there are aspects which will never fit into the myTax system,” he said.
“Property is the classic one. If you own one or more properties, you can’t use myTax. You could potentially have a go at doing your tax return through e-tax if you’re an investment property owner, but the tax rules around that are so complex that you would really want to have some form of professional advice on your side to make sure that you’re doing it right.”
Mr Chapman also stressed there’s a level of uncertainty for taxpayers lodging their tax returns online, relating to what they can and can’t claim.
“If you’re doing it yourself through myTax or e-tax, there’s always that uncertainty about whether you’re claiming everything you’re entitled to, and in addition whether you’re claiming things that you’re not entitled to,” Mr Chapman said.
“Accountants can tell you what your entitlements are and make sure you’re getting the right refund, and that it’s maximised, but also that you’re not claiming anything that you shouldn’t.
“I think that’s always going to be the value proposition. I don’t see that myTax will help people, particularly on the deductions side going forward. It’s just too difficult for myTax.”