We're heading into the end of financial year and that means it's time to start getting your stuff together so you can get that all-important refund back - assuming you're entitled to one. So, what do you need to do to expedite that process? Here's some advice that can help>
The ATO stays they will start full processing of 2017–18 tax returns on 6 July 2018 and expect to start paying refunds from 17 July 2018. They aim to finalise the majority of electronically-lodged current year tax returns within 12 business days of receipt.
Things You Should Do
Liz Russell, senior tax agent at Etax.com.au, suggest that you should do the following things to improve your chances of a speedy return and refund.
Be prepared: Get all of your documentation ready including receipts for work-related expenses, pay slips, bank statements, log books and payment summaries. Whether you're using a tax agent or going solo, keeping a running list in a spreadsheet each year makes life easy as you can easily tally up the totals.
In many cases, there's no need to stash original receipts as the ATO is OK with you holding onto unedited scanned copies. The ATO requires receipts and other documents to be kept for five years.
Be honest: Declare all of your earning including foreign income, investment property gains, and even money made through trading cryptocurrency. The ATO can tap into hundreds of data sources, including banks, financial institutions and other government agencies, to validate the financial data you’ve supplied in your tax return. If the numbers don’t match, then you can expect a letter from the ATO querying your tax return.
Each year, the Australian Tax Office sets its focus on particular areas they'll be honing in on as they review tax returns and where we're trying to reduce our taxes. This year is no different with cryptocurrency earnings, money made from new platforms like Uber, home office expenses and work-related claims on their hitlist.
Be thorough and careful: Make sure all of your personal and bank details are correct on your tax return. Always double check your bank details as getting that wrong can result in longer delays or the money landing in someone else's account. If your name has changed since last year, you should update that information with the ATO before you lodge your tax return to avoid processing delays.
Don't Do These things
Stay calm: If you get a letter from the ATO, don't panic or ignore it. This will only delay the processing of your tax refund even further. As long as all of the information you’ve supplied is legitimate, it’s simply a matter of supplying the necessary documentation to substantiate the claims you’ve made in your tax return. If you’re not sure, a tax agent can certainly help guide you through the process.
Earlier in the year, the ATO issued a warning, telling people to keep appropriate receipts and other documentation, particularly for what they call "other work-related expenses". And that warning is accompanied by ATO staff being directed to undertake random audits to make sure people are following the rules when it comes to work-related expenses. So, what can you do to ensure you aren't hit with any fines of extra payments to the ATO?
Take your time: Don't rush through the return and miss important information. If the ATO picks up an error the process will be delayed.
Don't use a tax agent that promises ‘instant’ tax refunds: Russell says there's no such thing. She says those arrangements are essentially short term loans made by the agent and there are, potentially, large fees attached to cover the risk for the tax agent.
Get the details right, get your return in promptly and be a little bit patient.