A few years ago i decided to bite the bullet and get my tax done by a professional - there was an H&R block nearby so i made an appointment with them. I'd decided to pay a professional this year as the previous year i'd received a bill from the tax department when a long forgotten student loan type thing (Austudy Supplement loan for any Aussies out there who were students in the late 90's) reappeared unexpectedly and the $400 bill was extremely unwelcome. I was keen to avoid a repeat of the previous year's bill so I figured speak to a pro who can squeeze every deductiion possible to help me at least break even.
I rocked up to the H&R Block office with all my paperwork and sat down with the lady who was handling my tax return. I handed over my group certificate and other paperwork (basically a group certificate is a record from my employer saying how much I'd earned and how much tax I'd paid for the year). She looked at it and tapped away on her keyboard for three or four minutes. She turned to me and said okay, you owe $512.... crickets..... she just stared at me like that's it, pay my bill now.
Me - I have deductions you know?
Tax lady - OH really?! What deductions?
Me - Umm my Union Fees?
Tax Lady - Oh where are they?
Me - *points to my group certificate sitting right in front of her*
Tax Lady - Oh that's tax deductable! *taps away* Okay you now owe $400
Me - umm I have other deductions
Tax Lady - Oh what are they?
Me - points to the numerous other pieces of paper I've handed to her.
Tax Lady - *taps away on keyboard*
To cut it shortish - I managed to cobble together enough deductions to get a $70 refund which is what I wanted from the start - however I had to pay H&R Block $90 for the privilege of stepping the tax lady through every single deduction, without her suggesting a single one. I even had to point out the sneaky $200 or so you can claim for work expenses that you don't need receipts for - what good is a tax professional if they can't point out the loopholes that might apply to you, isn't that why rich folks employ accountants? I could have done the whole thing myself online for free for all the help she was. Needless to say I've never been back.