My tax return is really simple this year. Last year I lodged my tax return using e-tax and I received my refund within a couple of weeks. Is this still the best way or should I consider something else?
Most people need to lodge a tax return with the Taxation Office but it’s important to note that there are some exceptions to this. If you are unsure whether you fit into this category, use the “Do I need to lodge a tax return ” tool to help work out if you fall into one of these categories. If you are not required to lodge a return, it might be a good idea to submit non-lodgement advice otherwise you may find the Taxation Office contacts you to check.
Even if you have small amounts of income or wages where tax has been withheld, capital gains, dividend income or rental property expenses you will almost certainly need to lodge a tax return.
Keep in mind that if you are required to lodge a tax return but don't you may incur a penalty, so it is best to check your specific situation.
Last year more than 2.8 million Australians used e-tax, a free service that enables you to pre fill your tax return with information held by the Taxation Office, along with any information provided by organisations around the country, with most refunds issued within 12 business days.
This year the Taxation Office has introduced an additional offering called myTax. a new simplified tax return specifically for straightforward tax affairs. MyTax is available on smart phones, tablets and computers so it really is available to be widely used and is a free service. Similar to e-tax, information from banks, government agencies and institutions will be pre-filled but this information may not be available until early August. Like any new software, expect some issues so waiting a few weeks may give the Taxation Office some time to fix any technicalities.
Being a simplified tax return, it is
not for everyone and you can only use myTax if you meet the criteria. The Taxation Office suggests that you should only use myTax if:
- you were an Australian resident for tax purposes from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014
- your only income was from salary and wages, allowances, bank interest, dividends and/or Australian government payments
- your only deductions are for work-related expenses, expenses relating to income from interest or dividends, gifts and donations and/or the cost of managing your own tax affairs
- your only tax offsets are the seniors and pensioners tax offset, the zone and overseas forces tax offset and/or the private health insurance rebate.
If you are unsure, use the Decision Tool provided by the Taxation Office which will help you determine whether myTax or e-tax is best suited to you.
Some people enjoy submitting their tax returns because they get to claim tax deductions for expenses incurred during the year. However keep in mind that your expenses need to be substantiated so ensure you have the records, bills, bank statements and diary records on hand. The Taxation Office is looking at deductions closely this year so check out their videos about what you can and can’t claim before lodging your return.
It’s important to note that doing your own tax returns might save you money but consider using a tax agent who may be able to assist you based on your particular circumstances or occupation. The risk of claiming too much or even too little may prove costly so ensure you seek the advice of a qualified accountant if you are in any doubt.
Olivia Maragna is the co-founder of Aspire Retire Financial Services and is a respected and independent financial expert. Olivia’s advice is general in nature and readers should seek their own professional advice before making any financial decisions.
Send your finance questions to Olivia at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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