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How to lodge your tax return

How to lodge your tax return

There’s no avoiding it – if you’re an Australian resident for tax purposes and had tax withheld from your wages as part of Pay As You Go (PAYG), you have to lodge a tax return.

Getting your paperwork organised can feel challenging, but approaching with a positive mindset may make preparing your tax return more bearable.

If you’re employed, you may be able to claim some expenses relating to your work and income. In general, expenses are claimable when:

  • The money spent was a work-related expense
  • You spent the money and weren’t reimbursed by your employer
  • You have an official record of the expense e.g. a receipt, bank statement or diary entry (if your total claim for work-related expenses is $300 or less you will still need to show how you worked out your claim)
  • If the cost was for both work and personal use (e.g. home internet) you can only claim the work component of the expense

You can access up to seven years’ worth of statements in NetBank and the CommBank app to help you identify tax related expenses. 

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) provides detailed categories of expenses you can claim on its website, which you can refer to for details on what you can claim.

How to lodge your tax return

To prepare your tax return you’ll need:

  • Your Tax File Number (TFN)
  • Payment summary
  • Summary of any interest you’ve earned on your bank accounts (you can get this now in NetBank)
  • Information relating to investment income, shares, dividends and managed funds
  • Private health insurance  statement
  • Details of child support payments
  • Receipts from donations to a charity
  • Receipts for work related expenses

TIP: You can download most documents online from many banks, insurers and government agencies like Medicare and Centrelink. Check your provider’s website or app for details.  

To download the interest you’ve earned on your CommBank accounts Log on to NetBank, click View accounts then Interest & tax summary  

If you held shares in the past financial year, you'll need your dividend statements.  If you disposed of any shares in the past financial year you'll also need your buy and sell contract notes to work out any assessable capital gains or losses. If you're a CommSec customer you can download a financial year summary by logging into CommSec then going to the Portfolio then Statements section.

Have your bank details (BSB and account number) handy too.

Do it yourself or use an expert?

You can either lodge a tax return yourself or get a registered tax agent to do it for you.

If you’re unsure of the Australian tax laws, have a complex tax situation or find paperwork overwhelming, a tax agent’s expertise may be invaluable. They’ll charge you a fee, but it’s tax deductible when you lodge your tax return the following year.

If you do choose to lodge your own tax return, it’s quicker to do it online using myTax. You’ll need a myGov account first in order to do this. A big plus is that if you’re due a refund, you’ll most likely get it in two weeks. A further advantage is that the ATO’s prefill function can help to ensure you don't forget any income. Lodging your tax return online is free. You can, of course, still lodge a paper return – though it can take up to 50 business days to receive a refund this way.

Depending on your income and a few other conditions, you may be eligible for the ATO’s Tax Help program, where trained and accredited community volunteers can help you lodge your return online.

Tax refunds or debt notices

Once the ATO has processed your tax return they’ll send you a notice of assessment (NoA). This will tell you whether you’re due a refund or need to pay money to the ATO. It’s very important to hold onto your NoA, because if you do your tax return online in the future you're likely to need your most recent NoA number in order to lodge it.

Fixing a mistake

Regardless of how you choose to lodge your tax return, make sure you double-check everything before your tax return is lodged. You can change your return quicker if you’ve completed it online, whereas it’ll take a few days for changes to be made if you’ve used a registered tax expert. 


Things you should know

  • The Australian income year ends on 30 June. You have from 1 July to 31 October to lodge your tax return for the previous income year. If you use a registered tax agent to prepare and lodge your tax return, you may be able to lodge later than 31 October
  • Tax law is subject to change.  Double-check on the ATO website
  • The information provided is of a general nature and doesn’t take into account your personal, financial situation – we suggest you seek independent taxation and financial advice

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. Taxation considerations are general and based on present taxation laws and may be subject to change. You should seek independent, professional tax advice before making any decision based on this information. Commonwealth Bank is also not a registered tax (financial) adviser under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 and you should seek tax advice from a registered tax agent or a registered tax (financial) adviser if you intend to rely on this information to satisfy the liabilities or obligations or claim entitlements that arise, or could arise, under a taxation law.