Simple tips for staying on top of your tax.

It’s that time again! The end of the financial year is almost here, and that means one thing – your tax return. Officially, you’ve got until 31st October to lodge your return if you do it yourself, but it may make sense to do it sooner rather than later. Not least, because you could be in line for a refund, and that money is better off in your account than the ATO’s

Lodge online with myTax.

The simplest way to file your tax return is online through myTax. It’s a free service that’s open to any individual (or sole trader) who completes their own tax return. You can access myTax through myGov, the online website that hosts a range of government services, like Centrelink, Medicare, Child Support… and the ATO.

The great thing about myTax is that a lot of your details are already filled in for you, saving you time and hassle. Any information from employers, government agencies, banks and private health funds will automatically be added. All you have to do is fill in any other sources of income you have, and any deductions you want to make.

Include all your income.

There’s more than one way to earn an income – and the ATO wants to know about all of them. So when you’re declaring your household income, don’t forget to include money you earned through other sources – like rental income, share dividends or bank interest. The ATO have got very good at tracking income through your tax file number, so if anything gets left off, there’s a good chance they’ll write to you asking for an explanation.

Claim everything you’re entitled to.

Deductions are a great way to reduce the amount of tax you owe – as long as you’re smart about it. All claims have to be genuine and backed up by evidence, so always keep your receipts and statements. You never know when the ATO will ask to see them! For a simple way to record and submit claims, check out the ATO’s myDeductions app.

Different jobs allow different deductions, so it’s a good idea to check with the ATO to see what you can claim. Here are a few of the most common deductions:

  • Private car mileage when used for work purposes
  • Uniforms and protective clothing
  • Professional memberships and union fees
  • Sun protection like hats or sunglasses for outdoors workers
  • Education or training expenses
  • Donations to registered charities

Consider a tax agent or accountant.

If money matters really aren’t your scene, there’s plenty of help available. Most suburban high streets have a tax agent these days and you can also find ‘pop-up’ agents in shopping centres at the end of the financial year. Nor will it cost you a fortune. Simple tax returns for individuals can cost under $100.

Just remember, that if you want to maximise any refund you’re due, you will still need to come prepared with records and receipts. Tax agents and accountants can only work with the information you give them.