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  • Tax returns

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    When you need to lodge a tax return

    Generally, when you have tax taken out of your pay during the year or earn over $18,200 during the financial year, you need to lodge a tax return.

    If you’re lodging your own tax return it is due by 31 October.

    We use information about your income and the amount of tax you have paid to work out if you need to pay extra tax or if you need to get money back (a tax refund).

    See also:

    How to lodge

    You choose how to prepare and lodge your tax return.

    Lodge online with myTax

    Lodging with myTax is an easy, safe way to lodge your tax online for free. To use myTax, you first need to have a myGov account and link your account to the ATO. Once linked, you can use myTax simply by clicking through to the ATO in myGov – click Prepare to start your tax return.

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    Watch: A quick demonstration of lodging with myTax

    This video shows how easy it is to lodge with myTax:

    Media: A quick demonstration of lodging with myTax
    http://tv.ato.gov.au/ato-tv/media?v=bd1bdiubo71uumExternal Link (Duration: 02:36)

    We have a range of other short videosExternal Link to show you how to lodge online using myTax.

    Lodge through a registered tax agent

    A tax agent registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) can prepare and lodge your tax return. You can find a tax agent or check if one is registered by visiting the TPB websiteExternal Link. Registered tax agents are the only people allowed to charge a fee to prepare and lodge your tax return.

    If you're going to use a tax agent, you need to contact them before 31 October so they can include you in their lodgment program. Tax agents have longer to lodge returns so they may do it later than 31 October, but you need to be on their client list before then.

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    Information you need to lodge

    When you lodge online with myTax or use a tax agent, we pre-fill your tax return with information we already have. For example, employment income and bank interest. For most people, this will be ready by the end of July. Waiting for us to pre-fill your information can make doing your tax return easier and more accurate.

    We pre-fill this information as we receive it. You just need to check the details are correct and add in anything that is missing.

    Make sure you include income from all sources (whether it pre-fills or not), including:

    • amounts received from all your jobs
    • some government payments
    • investments
    • bank interest
    • some types of crowdfunding
    • sharing economy income, such as ride sourcing or renting all or part of your home.

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    Government payments

    Some Australian Government payments form part of the income we use to work out if you will receive a refund or have extra tax to pay. These include:

    • carer payments (but not carers allowance)
    • Austudy
    • JobSeeker payment
    • Abstudy
    • Youth Allowance.

    Some government payments are exempt from income tax but you may still need to declare them in your tax return. We use this information to work out whether you are eligible to receive a range of government benefits and tax offsets.

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    Deductions

    If you spend money on things to do your job you may be able to deduct these expenses from your income on your tax return. These are called deductions and might include expenses you incur for items like protective clothing or other equipment. You can also claim a deduction for gifts or donations you make to Deductible Gift Recipients.

    If your employer reimburses you for the money you spent, you can't claim a deduction. You also need to keep records, such as receipts, for deductions you claim. We may ask you to show us these records and you need to keep them for at least five years.

    The myDeductions tool is a convenient way to keep your expense records in one place. To use this tool, download the ATO app to your smart device and select the myDeductions icon.

    The important thing to remember about deductions is that you apply them to reduce the amount of income you pay tax on. You don’t deduct them directly from your tax amount. If you are not required to pay tax, you will not receive extra back for deductions when you lodge your tax return.

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    What happens after you lodge

    When you lodge your tax return, we calculate the amount of tax you need to pay on your total income less any deductions you are eligible to claim for the year. Once we’ve processed your return, we’ll send a notice of assessment to your myGov Inbox or your tax agent. This will show whether you will get a refund (because you’ve paid more tax than you needed to throughout the year), or you need to pay more tax.

    Your tax return normally takes up to two weeks (14 days) to process.

    Information you give is matched with information we have received from a range of sources. Where allowed by the law, we share the information with other government agencies such as Services Australia. You can check the progress of your return by going through to the ATO in myGov. If you use a tax agent, they can check the progress of your return through their software.

    If your assessed income tax on your notice of assessment is $100 or more you will get a tax receipt in your myGov account. It will show how the tax you’ve paid has been allocated to the community.

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      Last modified: 08 Jun 2021QC 63023