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  • Writer's pictureBen Fletcher

How to prepare your own personal tax return

If you have relatively simple tax affairs, for example you're an employee with a handful of expenses you want to claim or you run a small sole trader business, then rather than paying a tax agent (accountant) to process it for you, why not save some money and do it yourself?

Remember that if you don't use a tax agent your return will be due on 31 October so whilst you've got a few months up your sleeve there's no time like the present!

Step 1 -- setup your account

You can lodge your own tax return with the Tax Office via myTax which you access by logging in to your MyGov account and going to the ATO section. So if you don't have a MyGov account or haven't added the ATO as a linked service you'll need to get that sorted first.

Step 2 -- setup your tax return

Login to your MyGov account, click through to ATO services, and then click the 'prepare' button next to your tax return. Once your in the return you can check all of your details (e.g. contact details, bank account details) and customise the tax return by selecting the relevant boxes for you (e.g. salary income, bank interest, sole trader income, etc.) so that the form is customised to meet your needs and is less confusing to complete. Note that some of these customisation items will be auto-selected if the ATO has already received info on you (e.g. from your employer or bank).

Step 3 -- prepare your return

At this stage the tax return form will generate based on what fields you need and will pre-fill based on any data the ATO may already have about you for the year commonly including salary and wage information, bank interest, and your private health insurance details (note that some of this pre-filled data won't be available until late July). You can add in your deductions at this stage (there is a guide from the ATO here) with the software providing checks to help you enter everything correctly.

Important note: You need to include all of your assessable income in your tax return so not only does that mean wages and investment income, but it also includes any income you may have earned from the gig economy. The ATO have far-reaching data matching capabilities so it's best to be up front about what you've earned and not have them chase you up later.

Extra step for sole traders: If you are a running a business as a sole trader you'll need to prepare a summary of the income you have earned during the year along with all of your deductible expenses and include this in the return. The software provides some guidance here but if you need further information on deductions you can look here on the ATO website.

Step 4 -- lodge

When you're finished you can see what the estimated tax refund or payable is and then press 'lodge'. All done. Normally refunds are processed into your nominated bank account in around two weeks.

So, if your tax affairs are relatively straight forward why not try the DIY option this tax season? Preparing your own tax return should only take ten minutes and you don't have to go anywhere or pay anyone to get it done. Definitely worth thinking about!

If you operate a business and are looking for assistance with slightly more complicated tax issues than discussed here why not get in touch? We'd love to help.


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