• Individual tax return instructions frequently asked questions

    What has changed?

    Attention

    Warning:

    This information may not apply to the current year. Check the content carefully to ensure it is applicable to your circumstances.

    End of attention

    The TaxPack suite of instructions has been replaced by a shorter, more streamlined set of instructions.

    Most taxpayers who lodge paper tax returns will be able to complete them using the new Individual tax return instructions and the Individual tax return instructions supplement.

    We have published additional information at www.ato.gov.au/instructions2012 to assist taxpayers whose circumstances are not covered in the paper instructions.

    The Business and professional items instructions are no longer available in print. You can get a copy of these instructions from our website.

    E-tax remains unchanged. Find out more about e-tax here.

    How will the changes affect me?

    The new instructions are easier to understand and cater for the circumstances of most taxpayers who lodge their tax returns on paper.

    If you need information that is not covered in the paper instructions, you can access the additional information at www.ato.gov.au/instructions2012

    Most taxpayers who need to refer to our website for more information are likely to need it for only one or two questions.

    Why did you change TaxPack?

    TaxPack was released over 20 years ago. Since then, lodgment methods have changed and the majority of people who prepare their own tax returns lodge electronically using e-tax.

    Over the years the information in TaxPack grew to cover almost every circumstance. We analysed paper returns and learned that much of TaxPack content applied to only a small number of the taxpayers who used it.

    We have moved the less commonly used or more complex information to our website to make the instructions easier to use for the majority of people preparing paper returns.

    Can I use an old TaxPack?

    No. The new instructions have replaced TaxPack, and contain information that applies to the 2011-12 year.

    I can't find the information I need, what do I do?

    While we have designed the instructions to cater for the majority of taxpayers, you may need additional information to help complete your tax return.

    For more detailed information to help you complete your tax return, go to www.ato.gov.au/instructions2012. You can also use tools and calculators on our website to help you complete your tax return.

    If you cannot find the information you need, call us on 13 28 61. Make sure you have a copy of the instructions when you call.

    We can offer a more personalised service if you provide your tax file number (TFN) and have your last notice of assessment with you when you phone us. Our phone lines are open Monday to Friday 8.00am to 6.00pm, except public holidays.

    You can also visit an ATO shopfront.

    I can't find a copy of the Business and professional items instructions, where do I get it?

    From Tax Time 2012, the Business and professional items instructions will only be available from our website. The Business and professional items schedule for individuals form is still available in print. You can order one from our website, or phone our Publications Distribution Service on 1300 720 092.

    E-tax will continue to have the Business and professional items schedule for individuals and instructions built in, allowing you to complete this form and lodge electronically. Find out more about e-tax here.

    Why is Business and professional items only available on the web?

    We analysed paper tax returns and learned that only a relatively small number of taxpayers use the paper version of Business and professional items.

    E-tax will continue to have the Business and professional items schedule for indviduals and instructions built in, allowing you to complete this form and lodge electronically.

    If you wish to lodge on paper, you can download the Business and professional items instructions from our website.

    Is this the end of paper lodgment?

    No. You can still choose whether to prepare and lodge your tax return on paper or electronically.

    E-tax will remain the ATO's premium lodgement service because it is fast, free and secure, and guides you through the process of completing and lodging your tax return. E-tax saves time by pre-filling some information directly into the tax return, and contains a number of built-in checks and calculators to help you to get it right. Most refunds issue within 12 business days.

    Over 70% of taxpayers who prepare their own tax returns use e-tax. Find out more about e-tax here.

    Do the changes mean I need to start using a tax agent?

    No. You can still prepare and lodge your paper return yourself, but we encourage you to try e-tax if it is convenient for you to do so. Find out more about e-tax here.

      Last modified: 18 Jun 2012QC 26113