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How to lodge your tax return: Step-by-step guide

Here’s how to file your tax return via myGov and the ATO.

Tax return form. Australian money wallet.
A step-by step guide to lodging your tax return yourself through myGov. (Source: Getty)

Tax time is just around the corner, with only a few weeks left before Aussies can start lodging their tax returns and claiming their refunds.

If you’re not using a tax agent or accountant, the quickest way to lodge your return is online through myTax. This can be found via your myGov account or the ATO app.

The ATO said this was quicker than lodging a paper tax return and that you’d usually get your refund faster - generally within two weeks.

Lodging your tax return through myGov

To lodge your tax return with myTax, you will need a myGov account linked to the ATO. You can also log in using the ATO app.

While you can start lodging from the start of July, it’s generally a good idea to hold off until the end of the month.

That’s because most of your information from your employers, banks, government agencies and health funds will be automatically pre-filled by late July. Your income statement in myTax should read ‘Tax ready’ when this is done.

Check your information and add your deductions

Once you are ready to lodge, you’ll need to check the pre-filled information is correct and add in any additional income that isn't there. That includes things like any employment income, government payments, super pensions and annuities, and investment income.

Then, you’ll need to add in any work-related expenses and a record to prove it (usually a receipt). This could include things like work-related use of your car, travel costs, clothing and uniforms, self-education expenses and tools and equipment.

Here’s a rundown of the work expenses you may be able to claim, plus a guide to claiming work-from-home expenses.

If you haven’t already done so, it’s a good idea to use the ATO’s myDeductions or a similar tool to track your work expenses throughout the year. This will help you provide the correct details when it comes time to file.

Once you input all your information, myTax will estimate your return or amount owing. When you are ready, select the ‘lodge’ button.

If you realise you have missed information or need to correct something later on, you can still log back in to correct it. But this may mean it will take longer to receive your return.

When do I need to lodge my tax return?

If you are lodging your tax return yourself, you have until October 31 to do so. If you are using a tax agent, you will need to engage one before October 31.

If you miss this deadline, you can be fined and the amount will depend on how late the return is. For individuals, the fine is $275 every 28 days up to a maximum of $1,375.

But the ATO says it generally doesn’t apply penalties in “isolated cases of late lodgement”, and will consider your circumstances.

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