9 Helpful Reminders Before Lodging Your First Time Tax Returns | H&R Block Australia

If you’re new to the Australian tax system, filing your first tax return may seem intimidating. But, whether you’ve just got your first after-school job, started your career after uni, or maybe you’re making the most of your first Australian working visa, breaking down the tax return process into simple steps will help.

It’s not always compulsory to lodge a tax return just because you’ve started working, but it may still be in your best interest to lodge one.

Why is it important to know if you need to pay tax?

Understanding your responsibilities as a taxpayer can help you make the most of your income and avoid penalties.

If you miss lodging your first tax return or you have one or more outstanding or overdue returns, it’s best to get up to date as soon as you can. Not only will sorting your tax give you peace of mind, it will also help you avoid scary sanctions and penalties forced on you by the ATO. You might even be able to claim a refund from the ATO if you’ve paid tax but your total yearly income falls under the tax-free threshold, which is currently $18,200.

If you owe tax to the ATO and you haven’t filed a return or have filed your return late, the ATO could issue you a Failure To Lodge (FTL) penalty. This fine is calculated at the rate of one penalty unit for each period of 28 days or part thereof that your return is overdue, up to a maximum of five penalty units.

The value of a penalty unit is currently $210, which makes the maximum penalty $1050 for an individual.

Our tax consultants can help you with any neglected or late tax returns, just call 13 23 25 or find your nearest office today and book an appointment.

9 helpful reminders when lodging your tax return for the first time

Tick off these nine tasks from your to-do list when you’re ready to file your first tax return:

1. Register for a TFN

If you're an Australian resident, you can apply for a tax file number:

    1. At Australia Post
    2. At a Centrelink office
    3. By post

Depending on which option suits your situation best, you will need to provide:

  • A completed copy of the TFN application form
    You can complete and print this form online or order a physical form over the phone from the ATO.
  • Original or certified copies of your proof of identity documents

You should receive your TFN from the ATO within approximately 28 days.

        2. Check if you need to lodge a tax return

         There are some exceptions, but here are five key criteria that will affect whether it’s time to file your first tax return:

    1. Your total assessable income is above the $18,200 tax-free threshold
    2. Your total assessable income is below $18,200 but has had tax withheld
    3. You carry on a business
    4. The Commissioner has specifically asked you to file a return
    5. You are a minor who received income from dividends or distributions greater than $416 and franking credits were attached or tax was withheld

If you are still unsure if you need to lodge a tax return or you want some further clarification, contact your local H&R Block expert and we can help you find the answer and walk you through every step.

         3. Understand your tax lodging options

    1. You can choose between these two main ways to lodge your tax return:
    2. Engage the services of a registered tax accountant online or in person at your local H&R Block office
    3. Lodge a tax return yourself online via H&R Block’s express or advisor tool or via the post

Lodging online means that:

  • You can complete your tax return at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home
  • You can complete your return quickly and easily
  • You can make any necessary amendments more easily
  • You will often receive your refund quicker than if you lodged via the post
  • If you lodge online using one of H&R Block’s online services you can have peace of mind that our tax professionals will double check your return to ensure accuracy and secure all the offsets and deductions you're entitled to.     

        4. Gather your receipts and expenses

          If you’ve spent money on something in order to do your job, such as uniforms, travel or ongoing education remember to keep receipts for these purchases. You may be entitled             to claim these costs. Another category of expenses you might not know about is donations. You can claim a tax deduction for gifts or donations you make to organisations that are           registered with the ATO as ‘Deductible Gift Recipients' (DGRs).

5. Claim your work-related expenses

  1. The ATO has strict rules about whether a work-related expense is a valid tax deduction. The best rule of thumb is to only claim what you’re entitled to and leave out private expenses or things that your employer has already reimbursed you for.
    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.

6. Declare all assessable income

  1. Your taxable income includes income in many different forms, including:
    1. Income from a current job
    2. Bank, trust or investment interest
    3. Side hustle businesses
    4. Rental property income
    5. Previous jobs

You need to include all forms of income to avoid being penalised and ensuring you get any available refunds as quickly as possible.

7. Double-check everything
Go through your completed return with a fine tooth comb and fix any mistakes before you lodge. Remember to check:

    1. You spelled your personal information correctly
    2. You included all sources of income
    3. You included all your available deductions
    4. You have records of all your included expenses

You can make an amendment to your return after you have lodged it with the ATO but it’s much easier to get it right the first time.

8. Lodge before tax deadlines
If you choose to lodge your own tax return it’s due by 31 October.

Most registered tax agents can lodge a return on your behalf up until the following May.

9. Track the progress of your tax return
You can track the real-time status and outcome of your tax return by logging into our online services using your tax file number.

Your tax agent can track the progress of a return they processed for you as well.

 Where you can find help

Whichever way you prefer to lodge your first tax return your local H&R expert tax consultants are available to help you get the best result. We can identify exactly what you need to do to shape for the tax season and maximise your refund.