What is a tax return? How do I do it?

Tax Time - Australia - wooden letters with tax form, magnifying glass, money and calculator Source: Getty Images

A guide to help you do your tax return in Australia.

With a new financial year having begun on the 1st July in Australia, now is the time to do your tax return.

Do I need to do a tax return?

If you’ve worked in Australia during the last financial year and earned more than $18,200, you need to do a tax return.

Your employer(s) should have given you a payment summary, known as a 'group certificate' showing the total amount you’ve earned for the financial year and the amount you’ve paid in taxes. If you didn’t get one, ask for it.

When should I do it?

If you do your tax return yourself, you have until the end of October. If you go to an accountant, they have until 15 May next year to lodge it.

My tax online
Getty Images

Doing it myself

You can lodge your tax return yourself through myTax, the government’s online tool. 

Getting the help of a tax agent

Even if myTax is fairly easy to use, lodging a tax return for the first time or in a new country can be confusing.

It might pay off to get the help of an expert, at least the first time. 

How do I deal with income from overseas?

Many migrants will also have income from overseas. You need to disclose it. If you’re already paying taxes on this income overseas, you can claim tax credits here.

Not disclosing income from overseas might result in a large fine. You’ll also have to pay the interest on that amount.

the Australian Government Taxation Office

What deductions can I get?

You can claim tax deductions for some work-related expenses like uniforms or work-related studies or courses. You can check out the ATO’s website to see what you can claim. 

You’ll need to keep your files on record for at least four years, in case the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) wants to verify the claim. Several free applications exist to help you keep tracks of these records; like Evernote or the ATO's own tool 'myDeductions'


Getting money back or paying more taxes

Most employers will automatically deduct tax from your salary from each pay, which is intended to approximate what you should pay in taxes across the whole year.

With tax deductions and tax breaks, you can get some money back.

What if I'm self-employed?

But if you’re a freelancer or work for companies like Uber, Deliveroo or Airtasker, where tax is not deducted automatically, you’ll have to pay up when you lodge your return.

Think about putting money aside on each pay so that you don’t have a massive bill owe to the ATO at the end of the year.

Useful links

Lodging a tax return online with myTax

Lodging my first tax return

Finding a registered tax agent

Information in 33 languages

What the ATO is targeting this tax time


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