Top Tips for lodging your tax return and getting a fast refund

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An estimated 12 million people will lodge a tax return this year with almost half a million Australians lodging a tax return for the first time.

For some, lodging a tax return can be a bit intimidating so here are some easy tips to help lodge and get a fast refund.

Check if you need to lodge
If you are not sure if you need to lodge a tax return, the Taxation Office has an online tool that will work it out for you. Check it out here.

Easy lodgement
MyTax replaces e-tax this year and is quick, easy to use and will make lodging your tax return even easier.

In addition to this, you can now use myTax even if you have rental properties, capital gains, operate a small business or have investments.

You don’t need to download any software and it can be used on your computer, tablet or even your phone.
To save you further time, MyTax pre-fills information provided to the Taxation Office by government agencies, employers and banks, making lodging your tax return a piece of cake.

If you situation is more complex, don’t forget to ensure you use a registered tax agent.

Get online
If you haven’t already, it’s essential to now have a myGov account and link this to the Taxation Office. A myGov account lets you link a range of Australian Government services and access them all in one place. It is the way of the future in dealing with Government services including your tax – so it’s time to get on-board.

You will need this to access myTax. Tax returns lodged using myTax are usually processed within two weeks and you can check your progress by visiting your myGov account.

Claim the correct amount of work related expenses
Many miss out on claiming tax deductions but some also claim deductions that they are not entitled to.

There are different rules depending on your job but generally you will need to satisfy the three golden rules:
• you must have spent the money yourself and not been reimbursed,
• the expense must be related to your work
• you must have a record to prove the expense.

If you need guidance or don’t know what to claim, the Taxation Office provides a list of Deductions for specific industries and occupations. Check these out here.

Ensure you declare your income
You may be part of the sharing economy without knowing it. The sharing economy connects buyers (users) and sellers (providers) through a facilitator who usually operates an app or a website.

Popular sharing economy services include:
• renting out a room or a whole house or unit for a short-time basis
• providing taxi travel services (called ‘ride-sourcing’) for a fare
• providing personal services, such as creative or professional services like graphic design, creating websites, or odd jobs like deliveries and furniture assembly
• renting out a car parking space.

Ensuring you declare your fair share and check out if you are part of the sharing economy here.

Don’t lodge late
If you are lodging your own tax return, remember to do this by the 31st of October.

If you are using a tax agent, ensure you contact them before this date to be added to their lodgement program. You can find a list of registered tax agents here.

Why not increase the financial savviness of those around you – pay it forward and pass on these tips to your family, friends and kids.

Olivia Maragna is the co-founder of Aspire Retire Financial Services and is a respected and independent financial expert. Olivia’s advice is general in nature and readers should seek their own professional advice before making any financial decisions.

You can follow Olivia on Facebook or Twitter at https://twitter.com/oliviamaragna

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