When the time comes to file taxes, many people dread it or find it overly complicated. In fact, it’s much easier than you think. Whether this is your first time filing taxes on your own or you’re a seasoned veteran, it’s always a smart idea to have a firm understanding of the tax filing process.
Like most things today, you can file your taxes online. With the MyTax system, it’s easy to do everything yourself. However, if you have any questions or an unusual tax situation, it’s still a good idea to speak to a tax expert who can help you with the process. If you’re ready to get started, here are 10 simple steps to file your taxes.
1. Know the Deadlines
First, it’s important to educate yourself about the yearly deadlines. Late payments could result in a penalty fee. The deadlines are especially confusing if you’re not from Australia since the income year does not match the calendar year.
The Australian income year ends officially on 30 June. From then, you have from 1 July until 31 October to file your taxes for the previous income year. The only extensions are for those using a registered tax agent who prepares the return, but you’ll need to contact an agent before this deadline.
2. Do You Need to Lodge a Return?
Next, decide if you even need to lodge, or file, a tax return in the first place. The best way to know for sure is to use this tax calculator. You most likely will need to file a tax return unless you’re an international resident or student. If you’re a foreign resident without any Australian-sourced income or if you’re working on a holiday visa with taxable income less than $37,001, you likely don’t need to lodge a return.
3. Gather Your Information
Though you can file online or through an agent, you’ll need to gather the right documents. Here are the basics everyone needs in order to file a tax return:
- Your TFN (Tax File Number)
- Bank account details if you expect a refund
- Your MyGov account login (you can also create an account)
- PAYG payment summary
4. Collect Expense Documents
If you’re planning to claim over $300 in work-related expenses, you’ll need to gather additional information. This is most commonly used for self-employed workers or those who travel for work. In this case, you’ll need the following records:
- Copies of receipts or invoices
- BPay receipt numbers
- Account and credit card statements
- Travel logs
5. Decide How to File Your Taxes
Next, it’s time to decide how you want to file your taxes. You have 3 main options: online with MyTax, by paper, or through a registered tax agent. When you use the online MyTax portal, you’ll be able to log in through your computer, tablet or smartphone. If you choose a paper return, you’ll need to order online through the ATO’s publication service. Finally, if you choose an agent, they’ll let you know your next steps.
6. File Your Return
When it’s officially time to file your return. If you’re doing this online, you’ll need to either register or log into your MyGov account through the Australian Taxation Office. You’ll have an option to enter all of your details and income information, as well as enter your deductions and expenses.
7. Claim All Income
One of the most confusing parts of filing your own taxes is knowing what income to include. Luckily, if you wait until mid-August to file your return, the ATO will pre-fill the forms with information from your employers.
However, if you need to enter your own income, you’ll need to include all income streams. This includes employment income, super pensions, investments, foreign income, crowdfunding income, and any money made with side hustles.
8. Know Your Deductions
You might qualify for deductions. There are a number of work-related and personal deductions that might save you big on your tax return. The most common work-related deductions include vehicle and travel costs, home office expenses, education expenses, and equipment. Personal deductions include the cost of hiring a tax professional, gifts and donations, and investment income.
9. Wait for Your Return
Once you’ve lodged your tax return, you’ll need to wait for it to process before you receive your refund. If you qualify for a refund, you can expect to see the money in around two weeks. In some cases, this might take longer if it needs to be processed manually. The best way to check your tax return status is through your MyGov account.
Even if it’s a small tax refund, one of our top money habits for the new year is to use the extra money to reduce your debts. You may be able to completely pay out some of your debts or at least reduce the total amount owing which would mean less interest or late fees and definitely less stress.
10. Amend Your Return
Finally, if you notice a mistake on your tax return after it’s already been lodged, you can request an amendment. The most common errors are failing to answer a question correctly or forgetting to include some of your income. The fastest way to correct a mistake is through the amendment process or by contacting the ATO directly.
If you’re eagerly waiting for your tax refund to make ends meet or are feeling the overwhelmed with tax debts, contact one of our Debt Busters financial specialists today. Our professionals help hundreds of Australians overcome financial burden including tax debts. You don’t have to navigate this process alone. Contact us today on 1300 368 322 to get started.