How To Get Your Tax Refund Faster

How To Get Your Tax Refund Faster
Image: iStock

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>

Key Dates

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, 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.

Here's Everything The ATO Will Be Targeting This Year

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.

Read more

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.

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.


  • My #1 tip is do not lodge your own tax return.

    It’s convenient, it can be done on your own time, but it also benefits the ATO through your naivete. If you go to an accountant you’ll get it done quicker, probably get a significantly-higher return due to their knowledge, and whatever small fee they charge you gets claimed against next year’s tax return.

    I pay $85 for my return, and the accountant I see once a year regularly pulls in $600-700 more than I would have myself, simply because she knows what can and can not be done.

    • That’s going to depend on circumstances. Last time I got an accountant to do mine they didn’t manage to get anything more than I’d worked out for myself. They even suggested I should try and claim things like sunglasses which are far from a necessary expense for my work.

    • I work from home, so i claim the 45cph but that’s pretty much all i can find to claim (phone and internet are not practical or really worth it to claim).

      I went to H&R block one year to do 4 years of returns (i was slack and not earning much at the time), and they didn’t get me any more than i could have got myself with the 45cph.

      So personal circumstances matter and anyone with a simple return with no fathomable deductions (or those earning under $18k meaning you get it all back anyway) would do much better doing it oneself. If I had to pay $85, they would have to be able to find ~$250 extra to break even, and probably $100 to $200 more on top of that to make it worth the time and effort, i highly doubt they would be able to do that without some really dodgy accounting.

  • Whatever you do – DO NOT USE ETAX!

    Every time I have put my figures into that system it gives me a return estimate of under $200. If I put the same information into, say, H&R Blocks system, it will give me an estimate more than triple what the ATO does. And I get it every time.

  • if you’re really worried, prepare through etax (just don’t lodge), take it to an agent and have them prepare one as well. its a long term activity – they may know of things you wouldn’t claim for but you can clain yourself next year. alternatively, they may claim things you don’t agree with. I’ve had experiences both ways – you still have to read their proposal before you get them to submit.
    and make sure they agree to sit with you if you are audited.

    beware, the ATO is looking at small claims this year – the work clothing, laundry and home office claims.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!