How to Lodge Your First Tax Return
At H&R Block, we know that completing a tax return can be stressful and confusing, particularly if it's the first time you've lodged. So, if you've just left uni, got your first job, or are a new arrival to Australia – have a read through this guide to lodging your first return and make tax less taxing.
Do I need to lodge a tax return?
You're required to submit a tax return if you fit the following:
- Most resident individuals whose total assessable income exceeds the $18,200 tax-free threshold for the income year
- A taxpayer who last year paid Pay As You Go Installment Tax irrespective of income (if you wish to recover the tax)
- Every individual carrying on a business regardless of income or loss
- A resident taxpayer earning less than $18,200 who's had tax withheld from that income
- A taxpayer who's been asked to submit a return by the Commissioner. A full tax return is required even if there's no assessable income to report
- A resident minor (under 18 on 30 June) who received income from dividends or distributions greater than $416 and franking credits were attached or tax was withheld.
If you don't lodge a return for a particular year, the ATO may send you a request to lodge. We can notify them that you're not required to lodge, or alternatively, phone the ATO on 13 28 61.
What is the tax-free threshold?
As an Australian resident, the first $18,200 of your yearly income is tax free and is otherwise known as the tax-free threshold. You can use this threshold to reduce the amount of tax withheld from your pay during the year.
When you start a new job, your employer will give you a tax file number declaration to complete. Centrelink will also give you this form if you apply for their payments. If you're self-employed as a sole trader, you're entitled to the tax-free threshold on your income and are required to pay income tax at individual income rates.
The $18,200 tax-free threshold is equivalent to:
- $350 a week
- $700 a fortnight
- $1,517 a month
When your taxable income exceeds this threshold, you pay tax on any income earned above $18,200.
If you have more than one job, you should generally claim the tax-free threshold from the payer who issues your highest salary or wage. Your second (and any subsequent) payer is required to withhold tax at the higher, 'no tax-free threshold' rate.
When are the deadlines for lodging a tax return?
The date for lodgement is as soon as you can after 1 July and before 31 October (last day for lodgement) each year. Extensions may be granted if written notice is forwarded to the Commissioner before 31 October.
Tax agents, like H&R Block, are normally granted extensions beyond 31 October (possibly through to 15 May the following year) for taxpayers listed with the ATO as their clients by that date. Contact your nearest H&R Block office on 13 23 25 to discuss your lodgement due date as well as apply for an extension if you need to.
If you miss the tax deadline – it's not too late. Most people need to lodge an income tax return every year – read more about lodging a late return.
How does the tax return process work?
H&R Block prepare over 700,000 tax returns each year. Once you've found your nearest office and booked an appointment, you can discuss your income, deductions and potential offsets with one of our tax consultants. Once we've got your return ready to go, we'll discuss your payment options, have a Registered Tax Agent double check your return and submit it to the ATO. After about a fortnight, the ATO will send you a Notice of Assessment confirming your lodgement and process your refund (if applicable) directly into your bank account. Our year-round service means that if the ATO has any questions, we're always on hand to help.
What tax deductions can I claim?
There are specific circumstances that surround deducting work-related expenses. If you're not sure what you can claim, you can always ask one of H&R Block's tax professionals by calling 13 23 25. If you've spent money on something in order to do your job, such as uniforms, travel or ongoing education, you may be entitled to claim these costs. Remember – only claim what you're entitled to and leave out private expenses or things that your employer has paid you back for. Read our ultimate guide to tax deductions for more information.
What evidence do I need?
If you're claiming more than $300 for work expenses, you need to provide written evidence to prove the total claim, not just the amount over $300. Documentary evidence generally needs to be kept for 5 years from the date you lodged your tax return (or longer in some cases). Keep your receipts, invoices and similar documents, except where a diary is sufficient. The document must show:
- Date of purchase
- Item purchased
- Date the document was prepared
- Name of supplier
- Value of item.
Required documents may include:
- Payment summaries from payers, including Centrelink
- Receipts for deductions you are claiming
- Bank and credit card statements
- Statements from your financial institution, showing what interest you have earned.
Read our tax return checklist for the items you should bring to your appointment
This information is a general guide. We're always here to discuss your individual circumstances and if you're not sure you can claim an expense, just keep the receipt and we'll ensure we include all allowable deductions to max your tax.
What's the best way to lodge your first tax return?
There's more than one-way to lodge a tax return: Online Tax Express, lodge online with the assistance of an H&R Block tax consultant or book an appointment in any of our 470 + offices. Whichever way you lodge with us, our tax consultants will ensure you make the most of your first tax return.
H&R Block can help
We can identify exactly what you need to do to get into shape for the tax season and maximise your refund.
- Find your nearest H&R Block office and book an appointment
- Lodge your tax return online with H&R Block
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