While claim confusion has grown in 2024, there is emerging positivity around tax return lodgement and an increased focus on research as Australians look to make the most of EOFY, according to new research from Officeworks.

Officeworks’ EOFY report revealed that 93% of Australians are either just as confused as they were last year (81%) or more confused about completing their tax return this year (12%) compared to 9% who were more confused in 2023 compared to 2022). Similarly, two thirds of small business leaders find the tax system confusing, a 4% increase from last year.

Common end of financial year misconceptions include incorrectly believing you can use bank statements as proof of expenses (61%), using the fixed rate method and claiming individual working from home expenses (47%), claiming up to $300 if you had no expenses (37%) and claiming home to work travel (25%).

The new research also highlighted two distinct approaches to maximising tax returns – DIY versus expert assistance. One third (33%) of Australians are looking to save money by doing their tax return themselves, a 4% increase from 2023, however, more than one quarter (28%) are going to a professional tax agent to help maximise their return, also up 4% from 2023.

Officeworks general manager of merchandise, Jim Berndelis (pictured) said, “We know that Australians want to make the most of end of financial year, but this research reinforces that it can be a confusing process for many. That’s why we’re committed to taking as much of the guesswork out of EOFY for consumers and business owners alike with everyday low prices, and helpful tools and offerings like our Price Beat Guarantee, two-hour delivery, business accounts, Officeworks app, digital receipts and more.

“We’re in a unique position at Officeworks where absolutely everything could be tax deductible, so whether they’re looking to upgrade their work from home set up, invest in new tech, or stock up on office essentials, customers can be confident they’re getting the best value on everything they need this tax season.”

Many are forgoing claims or spending extra time on their return as they haven’t kept a record of their purchases throughout the year. One in six (15%) admit to spending more time finding their receipts as they haven’t collected them in one place, and 10% need to forgo potential claims altogether because they have thrown out receipts or have not kept track of them. Gen Zs are most likely to forgo claims due to lost receipts (20%) with Baby Boomers the least likely (4%).

Cost of living continues to play a major focus for Australians and small business leaders in 2024, with close to half (46%) of Australians researching their purchases more this year due to the rising costs. Over 40% of small business leaders are also investigating more before they purchase something in the lead up to EOFY, with 33% researching retailers and 31% researching products.

Despite this, the research highlighted that small business leaders are looking ahead to FY25 with 49% looking to grow their business in the new financial year (up from 46% in 2023) and increasing productivity a key priority for more than a quarter (27%).