Australians are getting keener on submitting their tax returns online, with 17.7% of the population now utilising the ATO e-Tax service. The reason the number isn’t higher doesn’t seem to be techno-phobia — it’s our addiction to using tax agents.
The ATO’s latest Taxation Statistics suggest that in the 2007/2008 financial year, more than 2.2 million Australians submitted tax returns using e-Tax. That was up from 1.85 million in the previous year, and much higher than the 10.2% who used a paper form. However, a whopping 72.1% of us (for more than 9 million) skipped out both those options and used a tax agent, accountant or other professional to submit our returns.
For complex businesses and the self-employed, that makes sense, but it’s a very high number given that 85.2% of returns are for individuals, and one which only declined 0.4% from the previous year. Simpler tax laws would undoubtedly help, but as long as we suspect we can get some sort of refund, we appear happy to spend extra on getting someone to document that claim more thoroughly.