We all know how stressful and confusing it is when the time comes to sit down and do our tax! Especially when you don’t know what information to put in, let alone putting all of your information together into one cohesive arrangement for your Accountant.
We at Refund Express have vowed to help our clients achieve the best possible results for the financial year with our DIY service! We have put together a helpful guide to show you the Ins and Outs to creating and lodging your own tax return successfully, while still avoiding the stress of doing your tax.
How Do I Know If I Need To Lodge?
Before lodging a tax return it’s best to know if you even need to lodge a return in the first place.
You’re required to lodge a tax return if you fit the below criteria:
- If you are an Australian resident whose total income exceeds the tax-free threshold of $18,200.
- If you are an Australian resident who has carried out a business, irrespective of losses or income.
- If you are an Australian resident who has earned less than the $18,200 but still paid tax for the financial year.
- If you are a minor Australian resident (under 18 by the 30th of June) who has earned income from Dividends or distributions greater than $416.
The ATO (Australian Tax Office) occasionally have records on hand that you can use if you don’t have a particular statement, though it’s best to not rely on the ATO to have everything for you.
However, if the ATO haven’t received any statements in regards to income earned for the financial year (from Dividends, bank interest, to employee share schemes and payment summaries), we can contact them and request to have the specified year lodged as unnecessary with no hassle required!
Alternatively, you can also give the ATO a call to organize your financial years at: 13 28 69.
How Do I Get Started?
Before beginning the process of lodging a return, you need to have all of your information together and coherent for your Tax Agent to understand. Every cent to the dollar entered in, and every receipt included upon submission. A lack of any of the below may hinder or slow down the process of lodging your tax return, as it would take time for our Agents to contact you for the missing information.
If any of your details have changed when you lodge, the ATO may have one record that will not match what we have and can cause issues when accessing your records in the ATO portal. As such, the details in your profile must be your own and correct to the very last digit, or they will need to be updated should they have changed.
It’s a legal requirement that all income earned for the financial year be declared when you lodge, and can result in an Audit of your account and a penalization from the ATO should they have documentation on hand that you had not included in your return.
When uploading your information, if you don’t have a payment summary (which your employer is legally obligated to provide you with) the ATO may have a record of it on hand that we can access on your behalf.
What you will need to provide when lodging your tax return:
- A form of identification; which can be anything from your driver’s license, the bio-page of your Passport, your birth certificate or even a Government/State based photo documentation if you have none of the former options.
- The correct and up to date bank details for your refund to be transferred into.
- All payment summaries received for the current/specified financial year, or a Sole Trader form should you have your own business income.
- All business expenses and their receipts/paid invoices.
- Your Medicare information (Exemption certificate or otherwise).
- Health Insurance details, or a statement of your insurance.
- Your Spouse’s details, such as their name, date of birth, date of the commencement of your marriage (or the date you had married and then subsequently divorced/split), and their income.
If there are any difficulties providing this information or you do not provide it, it will stop the processing of your return until our Tax Agent has successfully contacted you and received the documents.
How Do I Know What To Claim?
It’s practically dogma for Tax Agents to believe that the client has all the information at their fingertips, ready for the tax agent to request at a moment’s notice. And most of the time it’s a simple matter of requesting a good quality photo of the identification of your choice and providing the receipts of your business expenses.
Sometimes, however, it can be more than just that.
We all know the stress of trying to find the right deductions to claim. Some are downright confusing, and most require more information than we have on hand. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
We have made a list of deductions that you might be able to claim, and exactly what you’ll need and the right circumstances to claim them.
What Deductions Can I Claim?
This list is an organized summation of our list of deductions for your peace of mind and ease of access, to avoid those worrisome pitfalls of claiming the wrong expenses while still getting all the tax you’d paid back into your bank account:
- Car travel can be claimed for your work, you cannot claim for travel from Home to Work and vice versa unless you were carrying heavy tools and equipment that you could not leave at your work. You can also claim for travel between work places. You have the option of claiming travel by kilometers for up to 5,000kms, or you can claim your logbook (all information must be included in photographic evidence).
- Clothing deductions can be claimed if the logo of the company is embroidered into the fabric, or it’s used for protective, compulsory, or mandatory purposes (E.g., Steel capped boots, fluorescent vests), and must have receipts provided if they exceed $300.
- You can claim self-funded education expenses if they relate directly to your job role (or its progression). However, you can’t claim for self-education expenses if they aren’t directly relevant to your work and are only used for gaining a foothold outside of work.
- Mobile phones can be claimed for work by calculating the amount you pay annually with the percentage that you use it for your work. You can only claim this only if you use your personal mobile for work; calling, messaging, or emailing customers/work members during work.
- Home Internet can also be claimed for work by calculating the amount you pay annually with the percentage that you use it for your work. You can only claim this if you use your personal internet for work; emailing, researching, etc.
- Your Home Office can be claimed for work if you have worked from home. This means that you can also claim for electricity, heat, cooling, and rates, however they can only be claimed for the portion your Home Office makes up of your house. Your Home Office cannot be claimed if the room has dual purposes (dining room and Office).
- Tools can be claimed only if you use them for your work, however they require a receipt if they exceed $300 and you must supply the date you purchased it, the amount you paid for it and the percentage you use it for your work. If it’s a power/electric tool it must be depreciated.
- Similar to depreciation with power tools, if you have used your desktop computer/laptop for work you will have to depreciate it using the date you purchased it, the amount you paid for it and the percentage that you use it for your work.
- General deductions, stationary and postage can be claimed for up to $300, however receipts are required if they exceed this amount.
For a more in depth look at what we offer in our deductions check out our other blogs to catch up, or contact one of our Tax Agents for more information.
We hope this has helped you look forward to lodging your tax return online with more assurance and confidence. You can contact us anytime for more information or help, using the Contact Us form in our menu at the top of the page, or the messaging box if you’re a member with Refund Express.