Show download pdf controls
  • Taking time to get your tax right

    Tax time tees off this weekend and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is reminding taxpayers to take their time to get it right.

    Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson said 2.8 million people lodged their tax return in July last year, which is 22 per cent of all tax returns lodged for 2015-16.

    “We know that some taxpayers like to get in early and lodge in the first month of tax time, but our analysis shows that if you lodge in July, you’re far more likely to make a mistake by leaving out some of your income,” Ms Anderson said.

    “By mid-August we have pre-filled most of the data from employers, banks, government agencies and other third parties. Waiting until this information is available will help you avoid mistakes.”

    “For many people waiting until August means all they have to do is double-check the information we have pre-filled, enter any deductions and then hit submit.”

    Ms Anderson said taxpayers don’t need to get into a rush to lodge their tax returns early.

    “It’s great to see taxpayers eager to finalise their returns, but it’s your responsibility to make sure you declare all your income. This includes income from any cash jobs, the sharing economy, your second job, foreign sources, employee share schemes and capital gains from the disposal of shares and property.”

    “Our systems are great at finding errors in tax returns, and if we have to investigate something further in your tax return.”

    Ms Anderson said people can choose to lodge using the ATO’s online lodgment tool myTax, which is fast, easy and secure, or they can lodge with a registered tax agent.

    “If you have been using the myDeductions tool, which is available in the ATO app, to save and store your deductions, you can upload that data as well without the need for physical receipts. Last year over 55,000 people uploaded their deductions to myTax or their tax agent, and 9 out of 10 of them told us they intend to use it again this year.

    For more information on how to lodge, visit ato.gov.au/lodgeonline and to find out about myDeductions, visit ato.gov.au/mydeductions.

    Top tips to get your tax right

    Decide how to lodge by 31 October

    You can lodge on your own using myTax or by using a registered tax agent. If you are preparing your own tax return, you can get a head start by making sure you have your myGov login details ready. If you plan to use an agent, you need to be on their lodgment list by October 31. You can make sure they are registered by visiting tpb.gov.au.

    Whichever way you choose to lodge, remember you are responsible for the claims you make, so make sure your deductions are legitimate and you have included all your income before you or your agent lodges.

    Get your paper work in order

    Having to keep, or maybe find, all your records to prepare your tax return can be a hassle. The ATO app myDeductions tool makes it easier and more convenient to keep records of your expenses and income all in one place. If you’re in a hurry, you can use the app to snap a photo of your receipt and add the details later.

    At tax time, you can upload your data into myTax to pre-fill your tax return. If lodging with an agent, you can also email the data directly to them.

    Include all of your income

    Don’t forget about your second job or money earned from the sharing economy. You must report all income, including pay from second jobs, foreign income, bank interest and any government payments. Lodging before pre-fill is the leading cause of taxpayers incorrectly declaring income. For more information about the sharing economy, visit ato.gov.au/sharingeconomy.

    Know what you can claim

    Remember the three golden rules for claiming a deduction for a work-related expense:

    • You must have spent the money yourself and not have been reimbursed
    • It must be directly related to earning your income
    • You must have a record to prove it

    If an expense was for both work and private purposes, you can only claim a deduction for the work-related portion. You can find information on what deductions you can and can’t claim on our website – we have also published guides for a range of specific occupations.

    Don’t panic if you make a mistake

    It’s not the end of the world if you report something incorrectly on your tax return. If you make a mistake or forget to include something, it’s easy to lodge an amendment online. See ato.gov.au/fixamistake

    Last modified: 28 Jun 2017QC 52705