General information about e-tax (including YouTube videos)
General information about e-tax (including YouTube videos)
E-tax is a free and secure service provided by us so you can prepare and lodge your individual tax return online.
E-tax is easy to use. Last year, 2.6 million individuals lodged their tax return using e-tax.
Most e-tax returns are processed within 12 business days of their successful lodgment.
E-tax 2012 will allow you to prepare, view and lodge only the 2012 tax return. If you wish to view a previous year's tax return or claim, you will need a copy of the e-tax software from that year. However, you will not be able to lodge online or amend any prior year's tax return using e-tax. We cannot provide copies of prior year e-tax software.
'E-tax in 5 easy steps' video
To see how easy it is to use e-tax to prepare and lodge your tax return online, watch this short video on our YouTube channel. You can also see our other e-tax videos and various tax tips to help you.
Watch the video 'E-tax in 5 easy steps'.
E-tax 2012 is available from 1 July 2012 until 31 May 2013. By law you are required to lodge your tax return no later than 31 October 2012.
Failure to lodge your tax return by this time means you may be subject to a failure to lodge penalty.
If you are vision impaired, you should still be able to install and use e-tax 2012, as it is compatible with readily available screen-reader software.
E-tax provides you with the opportunity to pre-fill your tax return with the information held by us and provided by other organisations. For more detailed information about this service and its availability, see Pre-filling service - e-tax.
If you have used e-tax to prepare your last year's tax return, you may also be able to roll over details from that return into your e-tax return for this year.
What are the benefits of using e-tax?
- Enjoy cost-free preparation and lodgment of your tax return.
- It is safe and secure.
- It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- It saves you time by ensuring you only answer questions relevant to you.
- Most refunds are issued within 12 business days.
- Tax debts are not due before 21 November, even if you lodge as early as 1 July.
- Built-in checks and online access to our publications and rulings help make sure your tax return is completed correctly.
- All calculations are done for you, and e-tax provides an on-demand estimate of your tax assessment.
- The e-tax software can be used by more than one member of a household while protecting the privacy of each user.
How secure is e-tax?
All e-tax communication with us uses encryption. Data is transmitted using (at least) 128 bit SSL encryption. This offers a very high level of security and is used to protect your details from unauthorised access during transmission over the internet to us. For more information, see Online security.
Who can use e-tax?
There are two prerequisites for using e-tax. For more information, select one of the links below.
Recommended computer requirements
We recommend that your computer meets the following requirements for you to use e-tax.
PC with Intel Pentium or equivalent
Windows XP Service Pack 3 (32 bit), Vista Service Pack 2 (32 bit) or Windows 7 (32 bit or 64 bit)
For other operating systems, see Information about other operating systems for e-tax users.
The lodgment process does not require browser components.
Screen reader - Jaws (11.0, 12.0 or 13.0) or Window-Eyes Professional (5.5, 6.0 or 7.0) and select the option for the vision impaired during installation
Magnification software - Most commercial versions of screen magnification software should work with the standard installation of e-tax.
Direct internet access, not through a proxy server
Standard Windows user privileges are sufficient to run e-tax. However, to install or update the e-tax application, you will need to elevate your standard privileges to 'administrator'.
E-tax works with firewalls and uses encryption to secure your communications with us. The firewall must be configured to allow communication between the ATO and your computer. If your network or your firewall does not allow this communication, you will not be able to use e-tax. For more information, see E-tax firewall configuration details.
E-tax is designed to work best with a screen resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels.
If you are running e-tax with your resolution set to 800 x 600 pixels, the Windows taskbar will cover the bottom of the e-tax window. For optimal use of e-tax, you should either:
- set your taskbar to appear behind e-tax, or
- set your taskbar to auto-hide.
E-tax is not designed for use with large fonts.
To change the font size in Windows, go to:
Control Panel > Display > Settings > Advanced > General then, under Display, change the DPI setting to 'Normal size (96 DPI)'.
Instructions for setting your taskbar to appear behind e-tax or to auto-hide
Right click on the taskbar and select Properties, then:
- to set the taskbar to appear behind e-tax, uncheck 'Keep the taskbar on top of other windows' and select OK, or
- to set the taskbar to auto-hide, check 'Auto-hide the taskbar' and select OK.
The following requirements are necessary for you to successfully verify your identity and lodge your e-tax return online.
If you …
then you need …
have an original or amended notice of assessment (NOA) with a date of issue after 1 May 2007 and before 26 May 2012
- date of issue at the top right-hand side of your NOA
- sequence/reference number at the top right-hand side of your NOA, below the date of issue
- your name exactly as it says on your NOA.
do not have a notice of assessment with a date of issue after 1 May 2007 and before 26 May 2012
- your tax file number (TFN) issued to you before 26 May 2012
- your name
- your date of birth
- 'shared secret' (unique) information (read below for further information).
'Shared secret' (unique) information
'Shared secret' (unique) information is specific personal information relating to you that is provided to us by certain organisations and institutions.
The specific personal information we use for 'shared secret' purposes can include current (2011-12) and immediate prior year (2010-11) information from:
- bank accounts that have earned interest if you are an Australian resident for tax purposes; this information is provided by your financial institution
- PAYG payment summaries; this information is provided by your employer
- Centrelink payment summaries
- dividend statements; this information is provided by the share registry.
If we ask you to provide 'shared secret' information, the details you enter will need to match our records.
'Shared secret' information is provided to us progressively by information providers throughout the income year, with most available by mid August.
If there is no 'shared secret' information on our records when you are verifying your identity, you can try again later. However, if you have a NOA with a date of issue after 1 May 2007 and before 26 May 2012, you will be able to use details of that NOA to verify your identity.
Maintenance of our systems occurs from time to time on a weekend, usually overnight. This may affect you if you use 'shared secret' information to verify your identity.
Leading up to a maintenance weekend, e-tax displays a message advising the dates and times when this will occur.
If you are unable to meet the eligibility requirements, you will not be able to lodge your e-tax return online.
However, you can still prepare your tax return using e-tax. You will need to print it out and send it to us for processing. See E-tax 2012 paper lodgment for instructions.
You only need to download and install e-tax once.
More than one member of your household may then use e-tax to prepare and lodge their tax return. To lodge online, each person will need to successfully verify their identity and obtain a unique password.
What to read or do next
Work out what you want to do next from the table below. It may be a good idea to print out the sections you find helpful.
You can also see:
Last Modified: Thursday, 28 June 2012