Mind the Gap - Tax for teens

Script 2 - What is the ATO?

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Welcome to the Australian Tax office.

They do a whole bunch of tax stuff that involves all of Australia.
As you can imagine, collecting, calculating and checking Australia’s taxes is kind of a big job, so the government has this specific group of people to do all the work. They’re called the Australian Tax Office, or the ATO.

They’re pretty useful. These are the people you can talk to when you have a question about your refund, submit a tax return, or confess to them you’ve been swindling millions of dollars by way of tax fraud. Try not to do that last one. In fact, try to always do the right thing by the tax office, because it’s very easy to get in some trouble, either for deliberately doing the wrong thing, or for just being lazy.

We’re all busy from time to time. It’s important to know; with taxes, falling behind can be a crime. You have obligations as an Australian citizen to pay your taxes and maintain your records with the ATO.

Tax stuff can be complicated but it’s easier to jump right in. My question for you, is, how do you get in touch with these awesome tax people, if you need to? If one has a question or needs something resolved tax-wise, where does one go?

Well, they have a website with plenty of information: ato.gov.au
Many people call the ATO with their questions. There are those people who choose not to use an accountant to help them with their taxes. They often use the ATO’s resources a lot – the website, the call centre, their information booklets. If you have a question about tax, the ATO is one place you can go to for help. There is a lot to understand and sometimes things get confusing when you’re talking to someone about something as complicated as tax, especially if you don’t know anything about it yet.
If you’re anything like me when I did my first taxes, you might walk away from the accountant’s office or get off the phone with the ATO more confused than when you started, and you’ll have no idea what to do next.
Try to prevent that by always having a list of questions. Try to get them to explain them all as thoroughly as they can.

So that’s the ATO. So far, so good.