Australian tax returns generally become due to be filed on 31 October of the same calendar year. Tax returns are based on the tax year that ends 30th June every year.
A ‘tax year’ for individuals and entities to report and pay income taxes is the fiscal/financial year and often known as the taxpayer’s tax year or taxable year. Extensions can be also be possible to be made available. Till 2011 the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) used to publish a document known as ‘TaxPack’ each year, which was supplied free of cost to individuals to help them complete their return. From the year 2012, TaxPack has been replaced by the ‘Individual tax return instructions’ and the ‘Individual tax return instructions supplement’. Tax return can be filed as ‘e-Tax’ online or submitted in paper form by the individuals.
You can file tax return yourself by following instructions to fill in and prepare tax return. You can also use a tax agent to help you when an estimated 80% of Australian taxpayers mostly prefer to depend on tax agents to help them correctly prepare their tax returns and to enable them save their time and energy on account of complex taxation system of Australia. Extensions become automatically available to such individuals that use a Registered Tax Agent usually operating on an extended lodgment system.
Australian Government has also provided individual taxpayers with the facility of lodging their return online with the ATO’s ‘e-tax’ software directly or through an online tax agent. Individuals and taxpaying entities with taxable income in Australia may need to lodge diverse returns with the ATO in respect of various taxation forms.
You need to lodge a tax return if you fulfil the following conditions –
Being Australian resident during the fiscal year, if —
You paid tax under the PAYG (pay as you go) withholding or instalment system, or
You had any tax withheld for the payments made to you.
You being eligible for the “senior Australians tax offset” and your ‘rebate income,’ other than your spouse’s income was more than:
• $30,685, as a single, widowed or divorced at any time during the year
• $29,600, being married but one of the spouse lived in a nursing home or you living apart due to illness in the category of T2 – Senior Australians that includes age pensioners, service pensioners and self-funded retirees, or
• $26,680 if you lived with your spouse for the full year.
You were not eligible for the senior Australians tax offset but you received a payment of any one or more of the Australian Government allowances (as at Question 5) and other taxable payments which when added together made your taxable income more than $16,000.
You were not eligible for the senior Australians tax offset but you received an Australian Government pension, allowance or payment listed (as at question 6), and your ‘rebate income’ was more than:
• $30,451 being a single, widowed or divorced at any time during the year
• $29,490 being married but one of the spouse lived in a nursing home or you living apart due to illness
• $24,823 if living with your spouse for the full year.
You were not eligible for the senior Australians tax offset and you did not receive a payment listed at question 5 or question 6, but your taxable income exceeded:
• $6,000 being an Australian resident for tax purposes for the full year
• $416 (salary or wages), being under 18 years old at 30 June of the year
• $1 if you were a foreign resident and you had income taxable in Australia which did not have non-resident withholding tax withheld from it.
Besides the main conditions laid down in part-1 of this article for lodging a tax return, you must also have to lodge a tax return if any of the following conditions apply to you:
• If you have a reportable fringe benefits amount on your PAYG payment summary.
• If you have reportable employer superannuation contributions on your PAYG payment summary.
• If you are entitled to private health insurance tax offset.
• If you carry on a business.
• If you desire to claim a loss you made in a previous year.
• If you are 60 years or more old and you received an Australian superannuation lump sum with an untaxed element.
• If you are under 60 years of age and you received an Australian superannuation lump sum that included a taxed element or an untaxed element.
• If you are a special professional covered by the income averaging provisions.
• If you received income from dividends or distributions exceeding $6,000 ($416 for under 18 years old) and you had:
a) franking credits attached, or
b) amounts withheld because you did not quote your tax file number or Australian business number to the investment body.
• You were either a liable parent or a recipient parent under a child support assessment unless you received Australian Government allowances, pensions or payments for the whole of the period 1 July to 30 June of the year, and the total of all the following payments was less than $21,622:
1) taxable income
2) exempt Australian Government allowances, pensions and payments
3) target foreign income
4) reportable fringe benefits
5) net financial investment loss
6) net rental property loss, and
7) reportable superannuation contributions.
• You were either a liable parent or a recipient parent under a child support assessment. If this applies to you, you cannot use the short tax return.
• Download the free e-tax software from ATO website. It’s easy to use and has built-in checks and calculators to help you.
• Get help of e-tax to do necessary calculations for you to get an estimate of your tax liability for the year and whether you can claim a refund or tax debt.
• Get help of e-tax to access pre-filling information to download your own personal information collected by the ATO from your previous returns and various organisations. Pre-filling helps you to download information like your bank interest, employment income and government payments straight into the relevant labels of your return ready for you to help you to verify with reference to your own records.
• E-tax can help you get your refund, if due, within 12 business days, as it’s easy to use and has built-in checks and calculators to assure you hassle-free refund.
If not using e-tax software to prepare and lodge your tax return, you can prepare your tax return by taking appropriate guidance from the Individual tax return instructions as provided by the ATO every year.
If you feel that your tax affairs are more complex and you can make some mistakes in filling in the correct or complete information, you can also take the help of a registered tax agent to prepare and lodge your tax return.
Know on what amounts you do not pay tax and provide in the tax return
Know if you have to lodge during the year with the help of tool and instructions provided to help you work out if you need to prepare and lodge an income tax return.
Completing page one of your tax return, which would help you to accurately compile individual information on your tax return.
Take care of Tax guide definitions that provides information on special circumstances and glossary
Go through the checklist–tax return and checklist– supplement for the year that helps to provides a list to checks for completion of your tax return supplement prior to lodgment.
Go through guide to lodging your tax return. If you are an individual or an overseas visitor, you need to work out if you need to lodge a tax return, how to lodge it and when you need to lodge, including what information you need to prepare your tax return and what to do if you need any help.
Go through individual tax return instructions & frequently asked questions to have proper guidance to prepare tax return and to know about the changes during the current fiscal.
Complete a non-lodgment advice form if you consider that you do not need to lodge a tax return for the year.
Check the list of supplement questions to see whether you need it to complete your tax return.