Tax return assistance

Getting behind with your tax returns can be stressful as Gerry has discovered. Fear not, help may be available.

Q. Gerry
I am on a disability pension and am desperately seeking help. I need to lodge multiple tax returns and as tax time comes around again, I’m just getting further behind and don’t know where to start. This has not only become very stressful for me, but could be financially difficult due to not only the cost of a consultant’s fees, as well as possible fines from the Australian Tax Office (ATO). I am desperate to finalise this matter. Are you able to advise of anyone who could help me with these tax returns?

A. The first thing to do is not panic and don’t hide from the ATO. If you’ve received correspondence, deal with it by picking up the phone and calling the ATO to ask for an extension of time or further information if required. If you are willing to work through your tax returns, there are people who can help.

The ATO has a program called Tax Help. Through a network of volunteers, who are not ATO staff but are trained and supported by the ATO, low income earners can get help filling in and lodging their tax returns. Tax Help is available in all cities and many country centres throughout Australia.

Tax Help consultants operate from 1 July until October 2014 and are available to those earning less than $50,000 per annum. They deal with simple straightforward tax returns and while your situation may seem complex, if you break it down year by year, you should be able to get assistance.

For more information, call the ATO on 13 28 61 or visit the ATO website.

Also, some local MPs and even federal MPs offer a service through their constituency offices which help people lodge tax returns. As you can imagine, such services are very popular, so you should act sooner rather than later.