A Word Of Advice – Do Your Taxes Yourself!
March 15, 2011
I think that the end of the financial year (which in Australia falls on June 30th) is a very stressful time of the year for a lot of people.
For me it’s stressful because (being a small business owner) it’s the time where I get out my receipts folder (or shoe box as was my filing system for a number of years) and spend days pouring over every receipt I’ve collected over the past twelve months and catalog my spending and purchasing habits for the previous year into a spreadsheet which will be then sent to my accountant for processing.
If you’re wondering why I’m writing about this now to you and not at financial years end well, I am at this very moment, waiting on hold to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) for the second time today. The first time was this morning but I gave up after 46 minutes listening to the most mind numbing music I’ve ever heard.
(Somehow I don’t believe it when the recorded voice on the phone says “thank you for holding, your call has progressed in the queue, you will be answered by a service representative shortly”)
Anyway, the reason for my correspondence with the ATO is that for the past couple of years I’ve had problems with my tax, well more precisely, the getting of all of my necessary information together to send off to my accountant.
This was because I allowed a bookkeeper to get my information together rather than doing it myself as I had done in other years. It seemed like a good idea at the time but it turned out be a big (and expensive) mistake.
Now, I’m no financial whizz or accounting genius but compiling all the necessary information needed for the yearly trip to the accountants office was not that hard for me (especially being a sole trader). I just need to be a little bit organised and have the ability to set aside some time to complete all of the necessary tasks but a couple of years ago I thought to myself in a flash of inspiration, “why don’t get someone else to do it?”
I soon realised however, that once I gave all of my receipts and other bits and pieces to the third party I was then working to another persons schedule and their ability to manage their own time, events and so on.
Now I’m not going into the full story of what happened but let me just say that after two years of delays, a couple of bookkeepers, a multitude of phone calls and a lengthy time in my accountants hands later, my tax information is now complete with the result being that I owe the tax office a bit of money.
It’s my hope that I can pay off my tax debt in instalments, hence why I’m waiting on hold to the ATO and hence why you’re reading this.
Being placed on hold has given me a lot of time to think about this present situation and my thoughts are that all of this wouldn’t have happened if I done what I’ve always done every other year and finished my taxes myself. I think this time my need to be in control of my own affairs has been vindicated in a big way.
This will eventually become an expensive mistake for me to learn from, and learn from it I will.
Has anybody else had any issues with small business finances, dealing with bookkeepers and/or accountants? Let me know, I’m on hold… I have all the time in the world to listen.
I suppose I’m also being given a first hand lesson in patience and tolerance and that is what I am grateful for.