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Do you file your own taxes each year, or do you pay for professional assistance? With helpful tax software and a good filing system, you may be able to handle it on your own. After all, the Tax Office offers an E-filing system that’s fairly straightforward. However, there are a few benefits that go beyond tax help which might cause you to consider hiring an accountant.

Reasons to hire an accountant

One of the primary reasons that individuals and businesses alike hire an accountant is to assist them with tax returns. Look for a registered tax agent in your area if you’re having problems filling out your annual return. Large accounting firms specialise in this, with branches often located in the suburbs for convenience. For those who have more complex finances, such as investments or inheritances, it might be a good idea to hire a personal accountant to be sure that you’re not paying more or less than what you owe. Accountants can also give you advice regarding investment issues if they hold an Australian Financial Services Licence. Beyond this, if you work from home in any capacity or have a side source of income you’ll probably need help with bookkeeping. Even selling products on eBay requires accurate record keeping, and may be reason to hire a pro to keep from getting in trouble with the Tax Office.

Going it alone

On the other hand, there are now more resources than ever that can let you file your own taxes and keep your own records for a small business. You can use training.com.au to find a financial planning course that can teach you the basics of accounting and keeping a budget – this type of course can be useful in many different situations. As mentioned above, the ATO allows you to file your returns online, and there are also a number of accounting apps and tax prep software to choose from including Mint.com and Quicken. Many of these products and courses also cost money, however, so weigh the cost of an accountant vs. the DIY approach carefully.

Finding an accountant

If you do decide to go with a pro, you’ll want to shop around first. Search from the list of chartered accountants in your area or ask for word of mouth recommendations from your social networks. Take the time to chat with a few different accountants to discuss your needs and what services you’re looking for, whether it’s setting up a bookkeeping system for your home business or help with investments. Ask about which services they offer, and if there are areas that they specialise in over others. Be sure to look at the list of fees upfront, and ask when the money is due to be paid. A good accountant should be easy to get in touch with and make you feel comfortable. As we all know, discussing personal finances can be a rather touchy subject!
There are pros and cons to hiring a personal accountant, so be sure to weigh your options carefully. If you have a straightforward financial situation, it’s probably easy enough to file your own taxes online. But when the time comes to invest or start up a business, the money that an accountant can save you can make it well worth the cost.

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Little savings really add up. I’m always harping on to my kids about making sure they finish all the food on their plate. Over dinner we talk about children in the world who have little or no food. When I put my kids to bed I explain why they are so lucky to have a safe house, a cosy bed and necessities like warm blankets, clothes, shoes and socks. We discuss the homeless who are sleeping on the street tonight. When driving to school we talk about how many children in the world don’t get to go to school and the luxury of an education.
We also talk about the meaning of ‘spoilt’ and why it is important to be grateful – about everything.


FYI: Here are the official definitions of ‘to spoil’ and ‘gratitude’

To Spoil

To impair, damage, or harm the character or nature of (someone) by unwise treatment, excessive indulgence, etc.: to spoil a child by pampering him.

Gratitude

The quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful: He expressed his gratitude to everyone on the staff.
Source: Dictionary.com


Waste not & do something

Sometimes I feel as though I’m making my children feel guilty about being so lucky, and then I think no. This is because deep down I do have a ‘thing’ about ‘waste’ and I do believe it is my social responsibility as a human, adult, mother and parent to do something to help and to also educate my children about how to give, care, help and ‘do.’
If you’ve read Table Tucker you will know the extent I went to (in writing the book) and also still go to daily, to not waste food and to recycle and reuse items as much as possible. The Table Tucker and Savings Room journey, in terms of research, has also been a real eye-opener in terms of world affairs and statistics. Generally, mums like me are too busy to get down to world statistics on any given day of the week. Unless we are afforded the luxury of reading extensively daily, these days we receive our information in bite-sized chunks via social media, news feeds, easy-to-digest books, the media and even via word-of-mouth from more time-rich relatives and friends. We do this between the demands of our home and work lives, children’s schedules and the daily pressures life throws at us.
So, many years ago, while researching for Table Tucker, I went on the hunt for some fast, ‘real-time’ bite-sized statistics I could absorb quickly and I was shocked with what I discovered:
An amazing website….


Step 1:  Take a visit to Worldometers

This amazing website will open up any time-poor person’s eyes and quickly. If you are a busy parent or person like me, one of the biggest bites of reality you can give yourself is a visit to this website:
Worldometers.info
This site is incredible for watching world statistics in real time, as they happen and believe me these statistics are staggering to watch. The stats are also hugely depressing and very sad. So please be warned, these statistics are not for the faint-hearted.


Step 2. Get a staggering bite of reality

Here are a few current statistics I grabbed while writing this article.
These stats change by the second, minute and hour. They are so overwhelming you might wonder how you could help at all? Because yes – these world problems and statistics are staggering….

  • During Writing: Undernourished people in the world 890,121,154
  • During Writing: People who died of hunger today 27,311
  • During Writing: Deaths from water related diseases today 4,404
  • During Writing: People with no safe drinking water source 736,176,140

I’ll leave you to think about these stats while I move onto Step 3.


Step 3. Learn more about the current urgent African food crisis

Another current world issue, which I recently learned about through CARE Australia, is the devastating food crisis that has struck many parts of Africa. There are a staggering 20 million people across the Sahel who are running out of food and up to five million children who are expected to become acutely malnourished.
CARE estimates that:

“In some parts, half the population will exhaust their food stocks by the end of June and the United Nations is warning that famine is imminent in South Sudan.”

You can read more about the crisis at CARE’s website.


Step 4: Commit small & become part of something bigger (than you)

Read on to discover how you can help – even in a small way, while you help yourself this tax time:
Let’s face it. We are an extremely busy nation and many of us don’t have the time, like me, to get our head around the stats and even if we wanted to help, we wonder how our small contribution could help the mammoth problems facing the world, as listed above.
But your small contribution and that of your friend, mother, sister, group of friends, community and region adds up into a bigger contribution – and thus together we grow into a CARING nation that is making a true difference in the world.
Look at tax time another way….
While many of us dread tax time, in terms of the associated administration tasks and business ATO payments that need to be made, you could look at tax time another way:

“Tax time is an excellent opportunity for individuals, as well as small and large business people, to enjoy the heart-warming satisfaction of helping others less fortunate, while also gaining a benefit in tax savings.”

Step 5: Calculate your tax savings
To soften the blow of the June 30 tax deadline, CARE Australia has launched a handy calculator to help people maximise their tax return when making charitable donations. Found at www.care.org.au/tax, donors simply enter the amount they would like to give, as well as selecting their income. The calculator will then work out how much tax will be received back for a contribution made to CARE Australia.
By donating to CARE Australia, donors will not only be assisting someone in need, but will be boosting their tax return at the same time.
Here’s an example of possible tax savings:
For a salary of $37,001 – $80,000 this is how you can help and the tax savings you can make according to Care Australia’s Tax Calculator:

  • $112 can provide food for a month for 7 children – Tax Saving $36.40
  • $300 can provide 10 families with bags of rice –  Tax Saving $97.50
  • $500 can provide 5 families with cash for essentials – Tax Saving $162.50

Step 6: Place a donation & make a difference

Donate before 30 June to claim your deduction in this year’s tax return! Visit www.care.org to read more. You can place a donation online or donate by calling 1800 020 046. Donations over $2 are tax deductible.

Mahatma Gandhi

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Do you have any tips for creating tax savings? Comment below because sharing is caring!

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Whether your boss is a viper, sponge or all round Mr Nice Guy it is quite rare these days to be handed a big fat bonus cheque for going the extra mile. Business bottom lines might be tight but employers are going to spend a hell of lot of money on fun stuff, like lunches by the river, before they fork out a bonus because you just wrote a business plan better than the CEO could.
If you happen to do something amazing at work, and if someone happens to notice without trying to steal your bright ideas and flog them as their own, they might give you a nice fat bonus. Keep in mind that if you are this good you should probably be the CEO of your own company rather than working for someone else. If you happen to be using your workplace as a place of learning and base wage, and you do get a big fat bonus for your efforts, work out what the cheque is worth in real dollars using this little calc.
If the cheque is less than $100 it’s a slap in the face. Consider new options! There are plenty more jobs around.

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Whether your boss is a viper, sponge or all round Mr Nice Guy it is quite rare these days to be handed a big fat bonus cheque for going the extra mile. Business bottom lines might be tight but employers are going to spend a hell of lot of money on fun stuff, like lunches by the river, before they fork out a bonus because you just wrote a business plan better than the CEO could.
If you happen to do something amazing at work, and if someone happens to notice without trying to steal your bright ideas and flog them as their own, they might give you a nice fat bonus. Keep in mind that if you are this good you should probably be the CEO of your own company rather than working for someone else. If you happen to be using your workplace as a place of learning and base wage, and you do get a big fat bonus for your efforts, work out what the cheque is worth in real dollars using this little calc.
If the cheque is less than $100 it’s a slap in the face. Consider new options! There are plenty more jobs around.

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