Workers from Ireland and abroad are urged to watch out for rogue tax agents, who may be giving out poor advice in order to inflate their own fees.
Two Irish workers have spoken out about their own negative experiences, which saw them come close to incurring heavy penalties of up to $5,000.
Richard Rice, who hails from Wexford originally, explained how he was the victim of a cowboy tax agent in 2010, but only found out the following year when he went to file his 2011 tax return.
He is now keen to get the word out there before this year’s tax returns are due on or before October 31, for the year ending June 30.
Mr Rice, 28, has been in Australia for four years and is currently based in Holbrook, New South Wales, where he works in construction.
“Basically when I filed my tax return in 2010 I did it with someone different to last year,” he told the Irish Echo.
“I got my refund the first year and didn’t think anymore about it because as far as I was concerned I did everything I was supposed to.
“I only found out there was a problem last year when I went to Taxback and they told me there was something wrong with the way my taxes had been done the year before.
“I was told that the Australian Tax Office (ATO) was auditing me and they were holding back my tax refund to cover the money I owed from 2010,” he added.
He managed to get his tax affairs in order on time and eventually received his full tax refund.
However he admits it was an extremely worrying ordeal for him, given that he was intending to move to his current Employer Nominated Sponsorship soon after.
Had he received a fine from the Australian Tax Office it could have created issues for him when it came to applying for the sponsorship.
Another Irishman, Damien Barton, said he ran into problems due to a previous tax return, with the ATO querying his residency status.
The Wexford native, who also works in the construction industry, revealed how he had a large deduction taken from his tax refund as a result.
According to Mr Barton: “I was over here from 2004 to 2007 and then I went home for a couple of years before coming back in 2011.
“I was moved onto the Employer Nominated Sponsorship really quickly so I was shocked when my residency was questioned as a result of my previous tax agent.
“It involved a lot of phone calls to get it all sorted out. I had to provide bank statements, insurance letters and landlord documentation.
“In the end I got the full refund amount back. It made me realise how important it is to choose your tax agent carefully,” he added.
Eileen Devereux of Taxback.com explained how it’s a legal obligation for migrant workers to file a tax return, regardless of what visa is held.
“Unfortunately, temporary workers in Australia can sometimes fall prey to unscrupulous and disreputable tax refund providers,” she said.
“With 14,000 visas issued to Irish people last year, there could be a substantial number of people being misfiled so it’s vital to choose a reliable and ethical tax agent”.