How To Lodge Your Tax Return

Australian Individual Tax Return FormWell, the End of the Financial Year is almost here and irrespective of when your tax return is actually due, as of July 1, you can complete and file your tax return. Why would you want to do this? If you expect to receive a tax refund, the sooner you file your return, the sooner the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) can process that return and make the refund payment. If you would like to file your tax return as soon as possible, here are your options:

  1. Lodge your return through a registered tax agent. While you might have trouble getting a tax agent to lodge your tax return on July 1 (unless you organised an appointment long ago), a registered tax agent is your best option if you have a more complex tax return, for example you own a business or investment property and are unsure what you can and can’t deduct. A registered Tax Agent will also be able to lodge after the individual tax return deadline of October 31, so if you feel you need additional time to organise documents, or funds if you are likely to owe additional tax, then that delay can be extremely helpful. While you can ask anyone to complete your tax return (I would strongly recommend against that!) only a Registered Tax Agent can charge money for the service. If you are unsure whether the person offering to complete your return is registered, you can search the ATO database here.
  2. Lodge online through myGov. The quickest way to complete your tax return is to register with and complete your return online. MyGov is good for people who have a good understanding of their possible deductions and a fairly straightforward tax return, such as an employee who has all their income and tax details for the year provided by their employer in a Pay As You Go PAYG summary (keep in mind that the deadline for your employer to provide you with your PAYG summary is July fourteen).
  3. Lodge a paper tax return. If you don’t have a computer with Internet access you probably aren’t reading this article, but if for some reason you simply prefer to lodge a paper return, you will need to contact the ATO on 1300 720 092 to have one sent out. The ATO appears to be working towards a fully online system as it is harder to get paper returns now (they used to be available in newsagents) and a paper lodgement will take longer to be processed (up to 50 days) than an online return filed through myGov (two weeks according to the ATO).
  4. Lodge using the ATO’s Tax Help Program. This is a network of ATO-trained volunteers who provide a free service for people who earned less than $50,000 for the year and fit these criteria.

Keep in mind that whether you have a simple or complex tax return, seeing a tax agent will help to maximise all possible deductions, thereby increasing your refund.

By Jennifer Lowe

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