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If it's your first time lodging a tax return, it's totally normal to have a million questions on your mind. Even for a well-seasoned tax return lodger, preparing the necessary documents every financial year can seem like a daunting chore, and procrastination can lead to disaster. Get on top of your taxes like a real "adult" with our ultimate guide to preparing for the EOFY frenzy.
Your calendar is your best (tax time) friend
First things first: get into the habit of keeping tabs on all tax time deadlines. Start by adding a reminder in your calendar a few days before July 1, which is the very first day that you can submit your tax return to the Australian Taxation Office for the previous financial year.
But if you're not an early bird, that's okay too! Australians usually have until October 31 to lodge their tax return1 - the only thing you have to remember is not to put it off for too long. Procrastinating could result in you forgetting about it altogether until you get a calendar notification on the morning it's due, which could be a huge day full of assignments, deadlines or exams! Avoid the mad rush to get your tax return in by scheduling time to get it sorted out a couple of weeks - or months - early.
Do you know what you can claim?
The good news is that some work-related expenses2 you've paid during the financial year may be claimed back as part of your tax return. For some working students and graduates, these expenses may include professional development courses, professional subscriptions, uniforms, phone bills for work-related calls and even some charitable donations.
Although you may think you know what you can claim, it's best to double check against the ATO website and consult with an accountant to ensure you haven't missed anything, as guidelines can change from year to year.
No more shoeboxes full of receipts
Backtracking through a year's worth of expenses can be a nightmare when you have a disorganised collection of documents. One way to combat this problem is to file all of your receipts and payslips in one place as soon as you get them. Keep your system consistent throughout the year to avoid losing anything, and it will be much easier to find what you're looking for come July.
Filing all of your documents as you receive them, instead of waiting to do it just before the tax return deadline, can help save you time and tears. There are many ways to store your documents. Updating your physical filing system to a digital folder is one way to solve the problem - consider collecting your documents on a USB drive, using an app on your smartphone or storing them in the cloud so you can share them with an accountant when the time comes.3
Find the right support for you
If you are stuck on a tax-related problem or unsure how to lodge your tax return, you can always seek professional advice. Speaking to an accountant with specific experience as a tax agent can help you to navigate the tax system and arm you with knowledge going forward.
A registered tax agent can even do your tax return for you4, which may give you the advantage of an extended tax lodgement deadline.5 Don't forget, your accountant's fees may be tax deductible6 - which means you could claim that money back in next year's tax return.
When the EOFY frenzy is over
After submitting your tax return for the previous financial year, it's time to start over. As soon as you have created a new folder for your documentation, you can enjoy the best part of the end of the financial year - the sales! And remember, if it's a work-related expense, always ask for a receipt.
Disclaimer: The information in this website is provided for general guidance only and on the understanding that it does not represent, and is not intended to be, advice. Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand does not expect or invite any person to act or rely on any statement, view or opinion expressed in this website.