Tax Time Checklist

Written and accurate as at: 13 August 2013

Work out your tax deadline

The ATO have made it simpler for individuals to lodge their own tax returns online. If you haven’t already tried e-tax, you may wish to use this lodgement service as it can give you an instant estimate of your tax-refund or tax bill due.

There are pros and cons to doing your own tax return. It may be a little cheaper due to accounting fees, but it will likely take more time and you may miss some deductions which you were unaware you were entitled to.

The Tax system can be complicated and there is always a good case to employ professional advice. When using a tax professional make sure you use the services of a registered tax agent.

The deadline for lodging your return yourself is 31 October 2013, however you can lodge a return after this date if you are using a registered Tax Agent who lodges your return on your behalf. To be eligible for this extended deadline you will need to contact your Tax Agent well before 31 October.

Find your Paperwork

If you are an organised person you may have been filing paperwork away in preparation for lodging a return for the 2012/13 tax year, but if you’re less organised, you may have to dig out the shoebox and start getting your affairs in order.

Whether you plan to lodge your tax return using e-tax or via a Tax Agent, the process is much simpler if you have all the information to hand. To get started you will need:

  • Your Tax File Number
  • An original Notice of Assessment (NOA) received within the last 5 years
  • Your Medicare Number

You will also need to provide details of your income which may include:

  • A payment summary from your employer for 2012/13. If you have had multiple jobs during the year, you should have received one for each employment arrangement.
  • Proof of any interest income received on savings and cash investments. Your annual bank statement will generally show this amount.
  • Proof of distributions and dividends received on your managed investments, shares and other investments. Again an annual statement should be received for these.
  • Record of the sale or purchase of any direct investment or managed funds and if you have realised a capital gain or capital loss.
  • Details of any rental income received from rental property investments.

Details required in relation to your annual expenses may include:

  • Your private health insurance statement.
  • Receipts and statements for your net medical expenses incurred during the financial year.
  • Receipts for any donations made to approved charities.
  • Receipts and records for all self-education costs that you wish to claim as an expense.
  • Evidence of the costs associated with owning a rental property including interest expenses on the money you have borrowed and all expenses incurred in maintaining the property.

Please note, this is not an exhaustive list and there could be other income and expenses which are required to be disclosed.

Provide your bank account details

Providing your banking details will ensure that any tax refund is direct credited to your nominated bank account.

Research eligible deductions

You may be entitled to claim deductions for some work-related expenses that are directly related to earning your income. The ATO will subtract these allowable deductions from your total income to arrive at your taxable income. The ATO website lists the eligible deductions for each profession.

Investigate allowable deductions

In addition to claiming allowable deductions, you may also be entitled to claim tax offsets. 

Tax offsets (sometimes referred to as rebates) directly reduce the amount of tax payable on your taxable income.

In general, offsets can reduce your tax payable to zero, but on their own they can’t get you a refund.

You may be eligible for rebates if during the course of the year, you have:

  • received an Australian Government allowance or payment;
  • provided for a dependant spouse;
  • held private health insurance;
  • incurred net medical expenses over particular thresholds;
  • made contributions to a complying superannuation fund on behalf of your spouse who is earning a low income or not working;
  • received income from an Australian superannuation income stream; and/or 
  • lived and worked in an isolated or remote part of Australia or overseas.

Tax offsets may also be available to Senior Australians, Pensioners, Mature Age Workers and Low-Income Earners.

Keep your records in a safe place

If the Australian Tax Office has any queries about your tax return, they may wish to see your records to verify certain information. It’s therefore important that you keep the records that you use to create your tax return for at least five years once you’ve received your Notice of Assessment (NoA) from the Tax Office. 

Get organised for next year

Once you’re organised for the 2012/13 year tax return, why not start 2013/14 with a new filing system for your receipts and statements to help make next year’s tax return simpler.

If you missed the article last month click here to read about tax planning for the year ahead.