Do you want to get your taxes done, quick & easy, with no stress about your taxes? If you’re like most Australians, you’ll connect with a tax agent.
The most common reasons people choose a tax agent include convenience, better tax refunds, friendly support and advice, and the confidence of knowing it was done right, with no ATO problems. Another factor is, can you do it online and still get help from a trusted agent? In that case, it is generally Etax.
Let’s cover some basics – and some important consumer information – about tax agents.
What Is A Registered Tax Agent?
Tax agents are accountants who are also highly specialised in the complicated ways that we prepare and lodge Income Tax Returns. Tax Agents focus on Income Tax. They do taxes for a living, so you don’t have to.
A tax agent is generally a much higher-qualified person than an ‘accountant’. A tax agent has high-level training in accounting, plus special training in tax and law, plus extensive tax experience.
If anyone sells tax services like preparing tax returns or giving tax advice, they must qualify as a Registered Tax Agent with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB). The Tax Practitioners Board is a government body that controls tax agents.
Every registered tax agent should display a TPB logo like the one shown here, including their tax agent registration number.
Tax agents must have special insurance policies that cover ‘indemnity’, which means, their insurance protects consumers, and their customers, against losses.
A tax agent can also be a company that does taxes, like Etax, which is run and operated by many tax agents.
Tax isn’t simple. People have thousands of different sorts of jobs, deductions, investments and life situations. Tax agents figure out how to get the tax refund each person deserves, without setting off the ATO. A tax return might seem simple at a glance, but Australian tax law is actually very complex – tens of thousands of pages worth of tax law. The Government and the ATO change tax rules and audit priorities every year.
Accountants and tax agents are number-crunching machines! They are very good at finding mistakes or numbers that are out of place, then fixing it up. Tax agents read ATO publications and tax law training materials year-round to keep on top of this. They do thousands and thousands of tax returns and spend hours every week on the phone and in meetings with the ATO.
Tax agents do all that so they can give you a pain-free, simple service. They get your taxes done right, without a lot of fuss.
The Advantages of Using a Tax Agent
Australians choose an agent for a few main reasons.
- confidence your taxes are done right
- help to boost your tax refund
- spend less time each year worrying about taxes
- expert help when the ATO sends a letter or comes knocking
Another plus about tax agents: As a taxpayer, you are protected by a law called Safe Harbour, which is part of the Taxation Administration Act 1953. Basically, this law means that if your tax agent does something wrong, the ATO can’t blame you for it. It is a consumer protection that every person gets when they use a tax agent.
On top of all that, most tax agents charge a low fee AND it is tax-deductible.
At Etax you can get all that, plus some great technology that actually makes your tax return a bit more fun. And it’s done in minutes!
How to choose a tax agent
Choosing a tax agent can be tricky, because, you don’t really know the qualifications and background of the business. Plus, there is convenience and price to consider.
Do you want to do it online, from home or work? That’s Etax.
Do you want to make an appointment and go out to a tax agents office? That’s an option too.
Tax Agent Fees
Remember your tax agent fee is only one time per year, and is tax deductible.
It’s not always a good idea to shop based purely on price. Does a tax agent who claims to do taxes for $35 really give you a trustworthy service? Are there add-on fees? And will they be there for you later if you need help dealing with the ATO?
If an agent or accountant advertises an insanely low fee, sometimes it’s “per month”, so be aware and read the details.
Australians pay an average of over $150 per year in tax agent fees, however, many use more affordable options like Etax and still get a great, modern service.
Are they safe, qualified and experienced?
At the most reputable tax agents, you can easily see their qualifications and experience. If you don’t see these important business details on a website or shopfront, you can ask. But generally, if it is not easy to find, that’s because, it’s not there.
- Have they been around for a while, or did they just appear? (Remember, you need to trust your tax agent to handle money and protect your privacy.)
- Do they display a proper TPB logo on their website and office?
- Do they have high ratings from lots of reviewers on Facebook, Google and ProductReview? Some tax agents actually hide the reviews on social media; If you can’t find any reviews, then the reviews aren’t good!
- Do they have other legitimate qualifications like being a CPA Accounting Practice?
- Does their website have a proper level of security?
- Are they certified by any quality assurance standard such as ISO 9001?
- Has the tax agent won any business or customer service awards?
- Does their contact page include a REAL business address (not a residential address) and a business phone and email?
- Do they seem like professional people and a properly-run business – who you trust with your financial details?
Etax is Australia’s top-rated tax agent. Etax is also a CPA practice and registered tax agent. We are certified and audited to be ISO9001 quality systems compliant. Very soon Etax will complete ISO27001 security systems certification – the only tax agents in Australia working on that very strict level of security. Etax takes tax seriously!
Australia’s Canstar Blue awards Etax the “Most Satisfied Customers” Award for Tax Agents in 2018
Finish your taxes in just minutes
…and get prefill, deduction tips, live help, see your refund estimate, and it all saves as you go.
Tax Agents Are Not All The Same
At the best tax agent companies, tax-trained accountants and tax agents help you and complete your tax return.
At some tax agent offices, you are served by a person who is not a tax agent or even a trained accountant. They might only have a diploma, or even less training. In that case, they should be supervised by a tax agent. But, it might not be the best level of service and advice for you.
All Etax, you get help from people with at least an accounting degree from a university, PLUS specialised tax training. CA- and CPA-certified accountants and veteran-level tax agents lead the tax team at Etax, including some of the most experienced individual tax agents in Australia, who work right at our Brisbane head office.
Etax has other benefits not offered by most agents including year-round support, saving receipts from mobile direct to your return, plus a special contest that only Etax users can enter – this year one Etax client will win $20,000 cash, tax-free.
What is a BAS agent?
BAS agents are like tax agents, but they specialise in business account keeping and bookkeeping, plus the preparation and lodgement of the Business Activity Statement – the BAS.
Most working Australians never need a BAS agent. But most working Australians DO use a tax agent.
Etax isn’t a BAS agent because Etax specialises in tax for individual workers, investors, students, sole traders… Etax works for people, not companies.
Instant tax refunds
Some tax agents offer “same day” or “instant” tax refunds. Should you go for it?
An “instant tax refund” ALWAYS means higher fees. And for what? You tax refund will take, on average, about 7-12 days. Would you pay an extra fifty, hundred or even more just to get your refund a few days quicker? If you really need some money faster than that, you might be better off asking family or using a credit card, then paying it back as soon as you get your tax refund.
An instant tax refund is actually a high-cost, short-term loan – a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Most same day refund tax agents make you accept an agreement with some serious, important fine-print. Did you read it? It probably includes extra fees, late repayment penalties, and interest charges that kick in if your actual ATO refund ends up lower than the original estimate. And if they didn’t even show you an agreement and fine print, that’s an even bigger worry!
You can read more about instant tax refunds here.
Do most people use a tax agent?
Yes – most Australians use a tax agent.
In fact, 74 per cent of tax returns are lodged via a tax agent. That number changes very little from year to year.
Tax agent reviews
One way to check the quality and service of a tax agent is to simply look at tax agent reviews posted by other Australians. Are most of them happy? Does the company reply if there’s a problem? Are there lots of reviews, or just a few?
If you can’t find any reviews for a business, for example the reviews section isn’t there on Facebook, then the company is probably hiding reviews. That’s usually a sign of a problem.
Australians post thousands of tax agent reviews and comments every year. Interestingly, they are mostly about Etax. To everyone who’s posted a review, done an Etax survey or sent a thoughtful idea, thank you!
This is so rewarding and motivating for our people at Etax. We collect feedback and ideas from users, year-round, and after tax season we get to work on improving for the next year.
A very straight forward, hassle free method for lodging your tax return. I’ll definitely be using etax accountants again. Thanks.
—Kate D, from Product Review, 19 June 2018
Really simple, easy to use and affordable. All your documents and tax return history in one place. Etax pre-populate your return based on prior years & PAYG forms. Been using them for 5 years. Highly Recommend.
—KrissyJ, Sydney, from Product Review, 9 April 2018
First year doing tax etax is simple and easy to understand for a first timer will always use etax in the future
—Austin, from Product Review, 21 June 2018
I’ve been using this service since 2013 and I’ve never had a single complaint. everything is so easy and they thoroughly check everything for you to make sure its all compliant.
—Hollie, from Product Review, 15 June 2018
Very inexpensive for the ease of doing the return online and the help received. Have used twice now with extra unexpected fantastic help each time. Will now continue to use time after time. Excellent service!!
—Leigh, from Product Review, 13 June 2018