Four Key Steps To Make Doing Your Tax Return Easier

We know it: no-one enjoys doing their tax. However, these four simple steps can make the process of filling and filing your tax return a bit less hassle and ensure you get the maximum refund you're entitled to.

Picture by gacabo

Weigh up whether you need an accountant. In the 2008-2009 financial year, more than 70 per cent of Australians used a tax agent or accountant to submit their tax return. If you have a complex situation -- rental properties, multiple jobs, self-employment -- then that undoubtedly makes sense. However, if you're a straightforward wage earner, it might be overkill. Yes, you can offset the cost of your accountant against next year's tax, but ultimately you still take responsibility for the accuracy of your return.

Use e-tax. If you elect to do it yourself, then the ATO's official e-tax software is definitely the way to go -- it's fast, can pre-populate many of the details for you and can get you a speedier refund.

Hang on to all relevant receipts. Technically, if your total deductions for work-related expenses are under $300, you don't need receipts. However, you still need to be able to demonstrate how you calculated those figures, and in practice receipts are the easiest way to do that (except in situations where it would be unreasonable to get a receipt, such as train tickets).

You don't have to keep paper copies, incidentally; scanned files and electronic records are fine. As well as relevant work-related expenses that weren't reimbursed by your employer, also remember to keep medical receipts: if you spend more than $2,000 of your own money, you can claim a 20% tax offset on the money above that

Check occupation guides. The ATO released its updated guides to allowable deductions for 16 common occupations earlier this week. These provide useful advice on what you can and can't claim, and might alert you to options you haven't considered.


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