Due to a recent clerical oversight of sorts, I have just completed my taxes for 2006. The clerical error consisted of me ASSUMING that Australia had the same tax ‘season’ that Canada has. Dumb I know. But I never got anything in the mail from the tax office so I just assumed that it would be on the way soon seeing as I didn’t work a day in Australia until March 2006. In Canada, I’d be all good; in fact, I’d be ahead of the game and would have my taxes in early as opposed to nine months late.
It was a somewhat troubling realization to come to a few weeks ago that Australia’s financial year (at least for taxation purposes) runs from July 1 to June 30. Kind of a silly way of doing it in my opinion, but I’m sure they have their reasons. Needless to say, ringing up the Australian Taxation Office and admitting I hadn’t paid my taxes wasn’t high on my list of Essential Australian Experiences. I’m sure it’s not on yours. Regardless of my aversion to confrontation and despite my propensity for putting things off, I dialed the number, put on my best I’m A Dumb Foreigner voice, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best.
I rang at about 5:15, expecting some sort of annoying computer woman giving me all sorts of options for help. Fine with me. If I could somehow negotiate the automated telephone system and get them to send me a tax package and never speak to someone then all the better for me. I was not looking for any sort of reprimand. Not surprisingly, I quickly realized I would require an actual human to address my problem. Surprisingly, there was actually a person there to help after 5pm, and even more surpsingly, she was the nicest person I’ve ever spoken to in the field of Telephone Customer Assistance. I explained my situation, emphasizing both my stupidity and my deference to The Man, and she had me all sorted out in just a couple of minutes. And she was lovely. I’m not sure the crew back at the Canada Revenue Agency would have been so friendly and so understanding.
Once my Tax Package arrived (I was never told why I never got one to begin with) I figured I’d have an easy return to fill out as I had only worked a few months in the 2005-2006 tax year. And for the most part it was easy. The actual forms were colour-coded and involved FAR less math than the Canadian version. In fact, that was a worry. It seems that the Australian income tax system gives a bit more power to the taxman…but hey, if it saves me doing math then I can get on board.
The return got a bit complicated when it came to my residency and my relationship status as the Australian Tax Office has different guidelines than the Australian Immigration people. Gotta love bureaucracy. But in the end I think I figured it out (after a second call to the Taxline). Now if my $48 dollar cheque arrives I’ll be a happy man. And because I paid it so late, I’ll be doing my taxes again in five months! Score! But I’ll be doing them online this time. Provided I don’t forget.
I’m lazy tonight and stole the photo from here.