How to Lodge a Tax Return?

By H&R Block 8 min read

For many people, lodging a personal tax return can be stressful. Whether you flinch at possibly paying additional taxes to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or you find the process of collating the necessary information overwhelming, a lot of people put off the process. But like most things in life, simply deferring the task dsn't make it go away.

If you're an Australian resident and you earn a salary or an income, you'll need to lodge a tax return even if your employer withholds taxes from your pay.

And while you must declare all your income when you lodge a tax return, you may also be entitled to get some money back. According to MoneySmart, the average tax refund last year was $2,574. The amount you get back depends on many factors such as how much you earned and your deductible expenses.

There are three different ways to lodge a tax return: online DIY tax return, in office with a tax agent or online with the help of a tax agent.

What is a tax return?

A tax return covers any income and expenses through the financial year, starting on July 1 and ending 30 June the following year. At the end of the financial year, you have a limited window to lodge your individual tax return. Generally speaking, if you're lodging your tax return, the deadline is the 31st October.

If you earn an income, you'll usually have to pay tax on that income. As a salaried employee, your employer will deduct tax from each pay and transfer it to the ATO on your behalf. This is known as Pay As You Go (PAYG) withholding. If you're a self-employed contractor and use an Australian Business Number (ABN), you'll need to pay your tax and super.

When you complete your tax return, the ATO will assess your income, expenses and deductions to determine if you'll get a tax refund or have to pay additional taxes.

What information do I need to lodge a tax return?

The more organised you are, the easier it is to lodge your taxes. In addition to income and bank statements, here's the additional information you'll need to gather:

  • PAYG payment summary which is usually supplied by your employer
  • Your Tax File Number (TFN) which can be found on your previous notice of assessment or your payment summary
  • Your bank account details; The ATO no longer send refund cheques so any refund will need to be deposited directly into your account
  • Details of any additional income such as rental income or investments  
  • Bank account interest accumulated
  • Details of any other tax offset information, like your partner's income details
  • Medicare and private health care statements
  • Details of any occupation specific deductions you wish to claim
  • Details of any Centrelink payments received

If you plan to claim more than $300 in work-related expenses you're also going to need:

  • Copies of invoices or receipts, which can be paper or electronic
  • Credit card statements
  • Travel logbook
  • Home office logbook

Our tax return checklist has all the information and documents you may need to determine which information may be applicable for your tax return.

Lodging your individual tax return

With all your information at the ready, it's time to lodge your tax return. No matter how simple your tax return, income tax is complicated and, at times, confusing. The simplest mistake could see you miss out on a refund or even having to pay a fine. If you want to maximise your refund and take some of the stress out of tax time, consider using a registered tax agent. Here are some ways you could lodge a tax return:

Use a tax agent

Over 74% of people who lodge a tax return choose to do so through an accountant or tax agent and it's not difficult to understand why. Every profession has its nuances, especially when it comes to claiming deductions. A tax agent understands the ins and outs of occupation-specific deductions and will know what questions to ask to help you make the most of your tax. Best of all, the fee you are charged is tax deductible on next year's tax return.

With 470 offices nationwide, we're just around the corner. Our tax agents can walk you through the tax refund process with ease. We offer expert and personal service year-round at a location near you. Click here to find a H&R Block office close to you and book an appointment today.

Lodge online yourself

Available online 24/7, you can choose to do your tax return online, whenever and wherever it suits you. While there are a few versions of DIY online tax returns, using H&R Block adds extra peace of mind because a tax agent will review your return. Just answer the questions online, review your results and then authorise H&R Block to lodge your online tax return with the ATO.


Once you've lodged your return, typically allow up to 2 weeks for the ATO to process and pay your refund.

Lodge online with a tax agent

If you're looking for a professional to lodge your tax return but don't have time to go in-store, you can lodge online using H&R Block's Online Tax Adviser. Using our fast, easy and flexible online portal, you can securely upload your tax documents and details. Then, one of our professional tax experts will prepare your return, review it to maximise your refund and update you on the status of your return.

With access to all this from the convenience of your home or office and a 1-2 week turnaround on tax refunds, we take the stress out of tax time.

Whichever way you choose to lodge, using a tax agent like H&R Block can take the stress out of tax time and ensure you claim all the deductions you're entitled to. By using a tax agent, you can also lodge later, possibly as late as 15 May 2020. To take advantage of those extended deadlines, you need to be registered as a client of the agent by 31 October 2019.

Book an online appointment today

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