Lodging a tax return – Simple steps to lodge your 2020 tax return online

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If you earned an Australian income between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020, you will need to lodge a tax return. Even if your income is a lot less this year, it’s worth lodging a return to see if you’re due a refund.

If you’re doing your own tax, you have until 31 October to lodge your return.

Lodge online for free with myTax

You can lodge your return using myTax, the ATO’s free online tool. You need a myGov account linked to the ATO to lodge online. Returns lodged through myGov are usually processed within two weeks.

Lodging online with myTax is easy. Most information from employers, banks, government agencies and health funds will be pre-filled into your myTax by mid-August. You just have to check the information, enter any deductions you have, and submit. MyTax will then calculate your tax for you.

Declare all your income

Most of the information about your income will be pre-filled from details the ATO receives from your employer and financial institutions. There may be other income you need to add yourself.

Common types of income that must be declared includes:

  • employment income
  • government payments
  • super pensions and annuities
  • investment income (including interest, dividends, rent and capital gains)
  • income from the sharing economy (for example Uber or Airbnb)
  • compensation and insurance payments

Visit the ATO’s website for more information on income you must declare.

Claim your tax deductions

You’re entitled to claim deductions for some expenses. A deduction reduces your taxable income, and means you pay less tax.

WORK-RELATED EXPENSES

To claim a deduction for work-related expenses:

  • you must have spent the money yourself and not been reimbursed
  • it must be directly related to earning your income
  • you must have a record to prove you paid for it

When your expenses meet these criteria, here’s a list of the things you may be able to claim.

Vehicle and travel expenses — If you use your car for work or work in different locations, then you may be able to claim a deduction. This does not normally include the cost of travel between work and home.

Clothing, laundry and dry-cleaning expenses — To claim the cost of a work uniform, it needs to be unique and distinctive. For example it contains your employer’s logo, or is specific to your occupation, like chef’s pants or coloured safety vests.

Self-education expenses — If the study relates to your current job, you can claim expenses like course fees, student union fees, textbooks, stationery, internet, home office expenses, professional journals and some travel.

Tools and other equipment — If you buy tools or equipment to help earn your income, you can claim a deduction for some or all of the cost. Examples include protective gear, including sunscreen, sunglasses and hats if you work outside.

The ATO have created occupation and industry guides to help you work out your work-related deductions.

INVESTMENT EXPENSES

You may be able to claim the cost of earning interest, dividends or other investment income.

Examples include:

  • interest charged on money borrowed to invest
  • investment property expenses
  • investing magazines and subscriptions
  • money you paid for investment advice

The ATO has more information about investment income deductions.

HOME OFFICE EXPENSES

Costs could include your computer, phone or other electronic devices and running costs such as an internet service. You can only claim the proportion of expenses that relate to work, not private use.

The ATO has introduced a shortcut to make it easier to claim deductions if you’re working from home due to COVID-19.

Instead of calculating costs for specific running expenses, you can now claim a rate of 80 cents per hour for all your running expenses. This covers the period from 1 March to 30 June 2020.

Multiple people living in the same house can claim this new rate individually. You no longer need to have a dedicated work from home area in order to claim.

The ATO has more information about the other methods you can use to calculate working from home expenses during COVID-19.

OTHER DEDUCTIONS

Other items you can claim include:

  • union fees
  • the cost of managing your tax affairs
  • income protection insurance (if it’s not through super)
  • personal super contributions
  • gifts and donations to organisations that are endorsed by the ATO as deductible gift recipients

Keep receipts using myDeductions and make it easier to do your tax return. myDeductions allows you to record deductions including work-related expenses, gifts and donations, interest and dividends. It also lets you store photos of receipts and record car trips.

Get help from a registered tax agent

If you want to use a professional to do your tax return, make sure you use a registered tax agent.

Most registered agents have special lodgement schedules and can lodge returns for their clients later than the 31 October deadline.

Whichever way you choose to lodge your tax return, remember you are responsible for the claims you make. So make sure your deductions are legitimate and you include all your income before you or your agent lodges your return.

Wealthness Pty Ltd ABN 13 231 248 112  [t/a Better Financial Planning Australia]  is a Corporate Authorised Representative of Infocus Securities Australia Pty Ltd ABN 47 097 797 049 AFSL No. 236523. It is important to be aware that Better Financial Planning Australia is not authorised by Infocus to provide advice relating to credit services or property advice. Infocus is not responsible for any advice outside of the scope of this authorisation and should you wish to act on any of this general information, please first seek professional financial advice.

Wealthness Pty Ltd t/as Better Financial Planning Australia will endeavour to update the website as needed. However, information can change without notice and Wealthness Pty Ltd t/as Better Financial Planning Australia does not guarantee the accuracy of information on the website, including information provided by third parties, at any time.

This information is of a general nature only and neither represents nor is intended to be specific advice on any particular matter. Infocus Securities Australia Pty Ltd strongly suggests that no person should act specifically on the basis of the information contained herein but should seek appropriate professional advice based upon their own personal circumstances. Although we consider the sources for this material reliable, no warranty is given and no liability is accepted for any statement or opinion or for any error or omission.

Wealthness Pty Ltd t/as Better Financial Planning Australia does not give any warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of information which is contained in this website. Except insofar as any liability under statute cannot be excluded, Wealthness Pty Ltd t/as Better Financial Planning Australia and its employees do not accept any liability for any error or omission on this website or for any resulting loss or damage suffered by the recipient or any other person.

Wealthness Pty Ltd (ACN 613 313 250) [t/a Better Financial Planning Australia] Corporate Authorised Representative of Infocus Securities Australia Pty Ltd ABN 47 097 797 049 AFSL Licence No. 236523.

Source: moneysmart.gov.au

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