5 Common Questions Answered For First Time Tax Filers

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It's tax time and that means first time filers have some questions about just how things works. Here are some answers to the most common questions people have.

Do I Have To Lodge A Return?

Almost definitely.

If you earned more than $18,000 between 1 July, 2017 and 30 June, 2018 then you need to lodge a return. Same goes for anyone who earned less than $18,200 during that period and had any tax withheld by their employer.

Minors who earned any income, people who carried a business (regardless of income) and anyone the ATO's Commissioner asked to file a return too.

How Do I Lodge?

There are two easy options. The first is that you lodge your return yourself online through MyTax, part of the MyGov online portal. A good chunk of your return will be automatically filled in for you so it's a fast and simple way to get things sort.

Alternatively you can lodge through a registered tax agent, such as H&R Block. The cost of lodging through an agent is itself claimable, so you will get some of the cost back the next time you file.

What To Do If The ATO Sends You A Letter About Your Tax Return

Letters are being sent out to Australian taxpayers who have fallen foul of the ATO's data-matching system. Don't fret if you get one.

Receiving one of these letters doesn't mean that the taxman is coming to to destroy your existence - it just means that something doesn't line up with your tax return and you're being given a chance to fix it.

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When Is It Due?

File your taxes yourself and the deadline is 31 October 2018. Go through a tax agent and you have a more generous deadline of 15 May 2019.

What Deductions Can I Claim?

"If you have spent money on something in order to do your job, such as purchasing uniforms and paying for travel or ongoing education expenses, you may be entitled to claim that cost as a tax deduction," said Mark Chapman, Director of Tax Communications at H&R Block.

There's a comprehensive list on the ATO's website but you can always check with a tax agent if you're filing through them.

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This tax season the ATO is coming after those who fudge their annual returns, sometimes helped by their tax agents, including claiming for expenses that have nothing to do with work.

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What Proof Do I Need?

When claiming deductions of over $300 you will need to provide proof of the full amount, not just the amount over $300. That proof can be receipts, logbooks, invoices and contracts. Essentially anything written down that shows the money was paid how you say it was being paid.

It's a good idea to have proof of all claims, not just the ones over $300. It's just not required when lodging.

You'll also need proof of your income - typically in the form of a PAYG summary - and bank statements showing your interest earned.

Don't forget to hold onto your proof. The ATO can ask for proof up to five years after you've lodged your taxes.


Getting your taxes sorted is easy. Just keep your paperwork in order and take the time to make sure all the information is accurate.


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