From Wednesday 1 July, Aussie workers will be allowed to lodge their tax returns for the 2019-2020 financial year.
To do this, you can either lodge your return through myGov, with a paper tax return form, or using a registered tax agent.
But if you’re strapped for cash, you may want to opt to lodge online, as you’ll generally get your return within two weeks of lodging.
Here’s how to lodge your tax return:
Lodging your tax return through myGov
If you’re not using a tax agent, the quickest way to lodge your return is via your myGov account, through the myTax portal.
Most of your information from employers, banks, government agencies and health funds is pre-filled by late July, and will be there in the form of an ‘income statement’.
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The Australian Taxation Office has warned against lodging your tax return too early, however: “It’s important to check that your employer has finalised the information in your income statement and it is marked as ‘tax ready’ before you lodge,” assistant commissioner Karen Foat said.
If you lodge before your income statement is marked ‘tax ready’, you could be up for a bill later on, or risk having your return delayed unnecessarily.
The portal is available 24/7, so you can lodge anytime after your income statement says ‘tax ready’, and returns are generally issued within two weeks.
Another benefit of lodging through the ATO online is the tax office’s myDeductions tool, which allows you to keep records of your work and general expenses.
Then, that data will also be used to pre-fill your tax return.
Lodging a paper tax return
If you’re not familiar with myGov and want to lodge your return via mail, that can be done too. You simply need to download the ATO’s paper tax return form, print it off, fill it out and mail it to the ATO.
Alternatively, you can order a pack that includes individual tax return instructions and two copies of the tax return via the ATO’s website.
If you earn a rental income, foreign source income, capital gains or distributions from a partnership or trust, you’ll also need to lodge some extra forms.
Bear in mind that if you lodge via paper, your return can take up to 50 business days to hit your account - compared to two weeks if you lodge your return via myTax.
Using a registered tax agent
You can use a registered tax agent to prepare and lodge your tax return for you.
There are some major benefits to using a registered agent, particularly this year as many of us have been working from home and incurring some extra costs as a result.
“Given the complications of working from home and the likelihood of people wanting to claim deductions related to their work but which also bleed into their personal life, if you have any doubt I'd suggest going to a registered agent,” UNSW’s School of Taxation and Business Law senior director Dr Ann Kayis-Kumar told Yahoo Finance.
If you use a registered tax agent, it also eases the pressure off the 31 October lodgement deadline.
You’ll just need to make sure you’ve been in contact with a tax agent prior to that date, and they can arrange to lodge it after the deadline if necessary.
If you’re not quite sure whether you need a tax agent to do your tax return, here are three signs you should use one.
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