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How to Maximise Your Tax Refund in Australia

4 min read

With 84% of taxpayers expecting a refund, and the average size of refunds last year reaching nearly $3,600, it pays to spend time ensuring you’ve got every detail of your return right.

Here are our top tips for maximising your refund this year, and getting it back ASAP:

BE ORGANISED AND CLAIM WHAT YOU’RE ENTITLED TO

Take the time to carefully prepare all your documents like payslips, receipts for work-related expenses, bank statements, logbook entries and summaries of your payments. It doesn’t matter if you’re relying on a tax agent or doing the work yourself, maintaining a spreadsheet detailing your expenses makes working out your spending more manageable. To ensure accuracy from the beginning, download the Tax Checklist to stay in the know about what to gather to ace your return.

If you have spent money on something as part of your work, and you have the paperwork to prove it, claim it. Common deductions many taxpayers claim include:

  • Costs of using your own car for work – although this doesn’t include driving to and from work.

  • Costs of travelling for work. If you are required to work away from home, and you spend money on meals and accommodation, those costs are often deductible.  

  • Costs of tools and other equipment. Items costing $300 or less are deductible immediately. Items costing more than $300 are deductible over several years. Items you could claim include tools for a tradesperson, a laptop for an office worker or even a handbag or briefcase used to carry work papers.

And don’t worry about storing messy piles of paper receipts: the ATO is okay with unedited scanned copies. Just remember to save your documents and receipts for the full five years that the ATO requires.

MAKE SURE YOU PROVIDE ACCURATE INFORMATION

You can only claim what you’ve spent. So don’t inflate deductions in order to get a bigger refund and only claim for costs you can prove you spent by producing an invoice, receipt or bank statement.

Also, make sure you correctly declare all your earnings including investment property gains, any foreign income or earnings resulting from cryptocurrency trading. Be careful with your details because the ATO has access to a vast range of data sources to validate the data you’ve provided. 

Everything from financial institutions and banks to government agencies can be called upon to clarify your claims. If the numbers don’t add up, the ATO will question your tax return.

DON’T RELY ON PRE-FILLED DATA FROM THE ATO

You can pre-fill lots of your income information straight from the ATO’s systems. But don’t assume this income data is correct or complete. Many third parties, such as banks, don’t pass information about you to the ATO until late July or early August so early lodgers who use the ATO’s myTax system will often find lots of data missing from their pre-fill.

If you omit income and get questioned by the ATO, the legal burden is on you, even though you’ve taken the information straight from the ATO’s systems.

Most tax accountants won’t rely on pre-filled data but work from your own source documents. This minimises the chances of missing income data for those who prefer to lodge early.

FILE ONLINE

With most of us trying to fit more and more into our 9-5, we need services to work around us. During tax time, life can be even more frantic, and that’s why we work outside business hours so you can get your tax done and dusted by lodging online or in person at any of our 470 offices.

To get access to an expert online, use our Online Tax Adviser and get your return lodged ASAP. After you’ve carefully reviewed all your relevant details and tax documents, upload them, and an Online Tax Adviser will get busy getting your return ready to maximise your refund. As they work, our expert will contact you via our secure and safe online platform so that you can stay up-to-date with how your return is progressing. Or if you’re a little more comfortable in the driver’s seat, you can opt for our self-service Online Tax Express Return and lodge anytime, anywhere.

GET EXPERT HELP

Get your tax return wrong and the comeback is on you, either with a lower refund or ATO penalties. Most people (74% of all Australians!) find it far less stressful to leave it to an agent to complete their return. This ensures the return will be accurate and complete, whilst an experienced agent will usually be good at finding obscure tax deductions you didn’t know you could claim. 

Plus, our maximum guaranteed refund means we go all out to ensure our paperwork is in top shape. In the rare case you discover you’re due a different refund amount, we’ll repay your preparation fee, as well as file an amendment with the ATO. After you’ve lodged – login online for an update on how your return is progressing; access from anywhere means tax time is less of a stress. 

Best of all, the tax agent’s fee is deductible.

For more information, find your nearest H&R Block office or call us at 13 23 25.

How-to Tax Return
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