Four Key Tax Myths Busted

Preparing for your tax return can often seem like a tedious chore, but if you fall for these common misconceptions the task can be even harder. Let's bust some common tax myths.

Paperwork picture from Shutterstock

Myth: You need to keep paper copies of documents

Reality: Electronic documents -- whether those are scanned from paperwork or in digital form from the start-- are entirely acceptable as records for tax purposes. Here's the confirmation direct from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO):

Documents that you are required to keep can be in written or electronic form. If you make paper or electronic copies they must be a true and clear reproduction of the original.

Like paper records, electronic records relating to tax need to be kept for five years after your assessment, but in practice there's no reason not to retain them permanently. Check out our roundup of the best scanners and cut down on the paper clutter.

Myth: You can only run E-tax on Windows

Reality: This was true in previous years, but for 2012/2013 there is a version of the Tax Office's E-tax package for Macs as well. Definitely worth considering if you don't use an accountant.

Myth: Salary sacrificing a laptop makes sense

Reality: While you can salary sacrifice laptops and other items, there's much less advantage in it than there used to be. The rules are complex, and your employer has to agree to it (since they'll often have to pay fringe benefits tax on the gear).

Myth: You have to register for GST if you make more than $50,000 as a small business

Reality: $50,000 used to be the threshold, but it was raised to $75,000 in 2007. In practical terms, it may make sense to sign up regardless (some businesses are reluctant to deal with other businesses which aren't GST-registered), but it isn't a requirement. Another change to note: items under $6000 can now be written off in the year of purchase rather than depreciated.


    thank god for the mac e-tax, could never get it to run properly on crossover and had to do a paper return last year.

    Thank god they have FINALLY done a version for Mac! Not that it was a major headache - use Parallels or Fusion or Bootcamp - but there are a lot more Mac users now and the native app will work so much better!

    Well done ATO

    I went to an accountant last year as I hadn't attended to my affairs for a few years and figured they would have access to information from my file as my officially nominated agent, that I did not through etax (since I can never get the prefilling to work for some reason most likely).. But all they did was basically walk me through their own version of etax and eat up some of what turned out to be one of the smallest returns i've ever gotten, despite paying the most tax of my life.

    Though etax may have looked outdated even when it was released, it's still a brilliant innovation, even globally, and accountants for regularly employed people need to disappear and stop making claims which are basically just what the tax office offers already, packaged to look like reasons to use their services..

      My tax return isn't that complex, but even I have no idea what the majority of the options are in eTax - I could be missing out on many many things I can claim that I wouldn't otherwise have known if I didn't see a tax agent.

      However, once I've seen them once, if my situation doesn't change, then I'm happy to use eTax on my own the following years.

        Sure, but for every term there's a link that leads to some fairly easy to read help, and in multiple languages I believe too. At worst, get someone who's good with paperwork style language to come over and read through it with you, i've done that for my friends many times.

    They should have done a web version os E-Tax IMO.

      Sure, let's just open it up to a myriad of web browser/javascript/whatever attacks. What could possibly go wrong?!

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