Doing your tax return

Doing your taxes is one of those things about becoming an independent adult that no one really looks forward to. While it can be overwhelming, frustrating or just plain boring, it's important to know what you're doing. If you're finding the process confusing, don't worry! There are resources and tips available to help you get it right the first time.

Disclaimer: We're fully aware that reading about doing your taxes is even more boring than actually having to do them. So here's a bit of Aloe Blacc goodness to jam to while you read on.

What is a tax return?

A tax return is how you report your income to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), and make sure you have paid the right amount of tax. For many of us, this means we get a lump sum of money called a tax refund if our employer has taken more tax than needed. Your tax return needs to be lodged each year from 1 July until 31 October.

Do I need to lodge one?

Simply earning money doesn't necessarily mean you'll have to file a tax return. It depends on how much you make, and where you get your income from. If you fall under the following categories, then you'll need to lodge a tax return:

  • Earned over $18 200 in the last financial year (end June 30)
  • Earned less than $18 200 but had tax withheld
  • Earned your income from more than one employer

How do I lodge it?

Firstly, make sure you have a Tax File Number (TFN). If you've forgotten or lost your TFN, don't panic! There are a few places you can look. Try checking a payment summary from your employer or correspondence with the ATO. If you think you may have lost your TFN, you can call the ATO on 1300 720 092. 

To lodge your tax return, you have a few options. The easiest option is to go online. For those with straight forward tax affairs, you can now easily lodge your tax return using My Tax. This can be done on your computer, smartphone or tablet. 

You can also call 13 28 65, to lodge your tax return.

If you want to use a registered a tax agent, keep in mind that many have their own deadlines for completing a tax return. Tax agents also charge a fee to prepare and lodge tax returns, (which you can claim on tax for the following year). You can find a registered tax agent on the Tax Practitioners Board website.

Last reviewed: 22 June, 2015
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