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 – such as 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, for example home internet, you can only claim a portion of the expense
You can access up to seven years’ worth of statements in NetBank 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> View accounts > Interest & tax summary
If you held shares in the past financial year, you will need your dividend statements. If you disposed of any shares in the past financial year you will also need your buy and sell contract notes to work out any assessable capital gains or losses. If you are a CommSec customer you can download a financial year summary by logging into CommSec then going to the Portfolio > 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.