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Monday, July 11, 2016

Taxing times

Click here to open Tax Return in separate window

 

Once upon a time we used to have those simple two-page tax return forms: the "S" form for wages and salary earners, the "A" form for those who had additional income from other sources, the "B" form for businesses, the "C" form for companies, and the "T" form for - you guessed it! - trusts.

Then some bright spark in the tax office replaced the simple "S" form with a dozen-page-long monster (including two blank pages at the end; presumably for you to add a few choice words to your friendly tax assessor) which required another four pages to declare any additional income, and the whole thing came with an instruction manual twice the thickness of a TIME magazine.

It was a boon for tax agents because the average taxpayer simply didn't know (and couldn't be bothered to find out) how to fill out all those devillishly numbered boxes.

And it was a boon for the printing industry because not only did every taxpayer receive a whole set through the mail but there were piles of the stuff in every newsagent and post office in the country. Even allowing for the fact that it was printed on smooth paper which was totally absorbing and could therefore be used elsewhere, the landfill created by all those forms must've been enormous.

Fast forward to 2016 and we're being encouraged to lodge our returns at ato.gov.au/lodgeonline. "Save time by lodging online", they tell you. I've just wasted a good half-hour trying to set up myGov username and password and I still can't log on. Try it and let me know how you went, okay?

Because I've given up and gone back to the printed forms which are still available at ato.gov.au/publications as long as you're prepared to print them out yourself and waste a whole ink cartridge in the process.

Taxing times indeed!

P.S. As in every previous year, the forms are constantly tinkered with. One of this year's changes involves the question 'Your spouse's gender' on page 8. It used to be simply 'Male' and 'Female' but this year there is a third box 'Indeterminate'. Instead of a tax agent, I may need to call on a gynaecologist to complete my tax return ☺