Out with the old and in with the new…maybe.
Back in the day, preparing your tax return meant taking a seat at the kitchen table and sifting through multiple ATO forms and long strings of numbers for hours or taking them to a local accountant. Both options are tedious and costly; in either time or money. But now we have the wonderful world of e-lodging available to us, which allows us to avoid both our childhood nightmares of failing math class and changing out of our pajamas just to mosey on over to our accountant.
I’m not knocking accountants at all. In fact, in some cases, you may be better off. Together, we’ll discuss the differences, good and bad, between using an accountant in person versus lodging with an accountant online.
If timing is everything to you…
An accountant allows you to schedule an appointment to come into their office. Once you’re there, you’ll either be out within the hour or hopefully in time to grab a late dinner. Lodging online allows you to work as quickly or slowly as you’re comfortable with. You’ll need to answer the initial questions before an online tax agent can take over and check your work. You can start and stop as often as necessary then log back in later to finish up.
Conclusion: Decide if you’d like to work at your own pace or at the pace of your accountant. You may not be able to decide this until you know the speed at which you can answer the posed questions online compared to how quickly your accountant can do it in-office.
If pricing is key…
Private accountants tend to charge a high flat fee per tax return or by the hour. Preparing your tax return through an online website allows you to pay a price based on the complexity of your tax return. Websites will typically have a choice of different pay packages. The prices tend to be lower than seeing a tax advisor face-to-face.
Conclusion: Private accountants that you see in-person tend to come at a higher cost than lodging with an online tax agent who you wouldn’t get to see in-office.
If your peace-of-mind matters the most…
I would say that the best thing about physically going to see your accountant is the peace-of-mind you have on your way out of their office. You begin to build a relationship with them by coming back year to year and getting on a first-name-basis. It’s a sense of security.
When it comes to lodging online, at least with E-Lodge, you can still build that sense of trust and security. There are just a few extra walls to knock down on the way. Online, you’ll get the complete review of your tax return by a certified accountant. The difference is we’re not talking you through the entire process. We reach out with any deductions, offsets or other information you may have missed while you can contact us with any questions or concerns you have.
Conclusion: If you get down to the nitty-gritty of it, peace-of-mind is available with both options we’ve discussed. It’s between watching an accountant check your tax return sitting across the desk from you or knowing an accountant has reviewed your tax return over the phone with you.
If the convenience level is important…
Convenience becomes a tricky factor to judge but tends to be important among taxpayers. Lodging online allows you to choose when, where and on what device you’d like to complete your tax return. On the other hand, if you’re not at all comfortable with computers, then preparing your tax return online may seem more inconvenient (even while sitting on your couch in your favorite slippers).
Conclusion: You’ll want to take into account how comfortable you are behind a screen as opposed to in front of a person. Trust me, you won’t need to know how to code a website. You’ll be good if you know where the space bar is.
So what’s the best option for you?
Everyone is different. So is every tax situation. That being said, while one person prefers more hands-on help, another person may want a lower cost or to lodge from their iPhone. Priorities range which is why our choices have expanded to fit our needs. When lodging your tax return this year, you should choose the option that fits your priorities best.
Updated 10 August 2016.