Lodging a tax return yourself can be both time-consuming and confusing so it pays to seek the help and experience of an accountant/tax agent. One of the biggest pitfalls for people who decide to self-lodge a tax return is failing to claim what they are entitled to. The truth is many people simply don’t know about all the tax deductions they can claim for or they haven’t kept an accurate record of them. Many others forget to report some income or incorrectly enter figures – both of which can lead to interest and penalties.
Here are some of the ways to maximise your refund and avoid submitting one incorrectly:
Adhere to the ATO’s deadlines
Tax returns are due by a particular dates every year, depending on your circumstances. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) lists these dates on their website here. Failure to meet a deadline can result in penalties. Most tax returns are lodged electronically so ensure that you prepare all of your documents before you are planning to lodge your tax return. If you’re a small business owner, you will also need to submit a quarterly Business Activity Statement (BAS). The lodgment and payment due dates can be found here. If lodging through a Tax Agent like Inline Partners, the ATO provides later due dates than if self lodging.
Determine what the deductions are for your occupation
Every industry and job is different and the ATO recognises this when it comes to tax deductions. However, there are three standard rules that apply when claiming tax deductions for work-related expenses. Firstly, you must have personally spent the money and not been reimbursed for that expenditure. For example, if you take an Uber to a work meeting and your company reimburses you for it, then you cannot claim it as a tax deduction. Secondly, the expense must directly relate to you earning your income, and lastly, you must keep a record of the expense. This could be in the form of a digital or printed receipt. If you’re unsure about the deductions you can claim for your job, see the ATO’s deductions summary table for different occupations and speak to your tax agent.
Keep records for all of your expenses
It’s no secret that you need to keep track of your expenses in preparation to lodge a tax return, but few people know that you must also keep your records for a further five years from the date of your last claim. It can be a challenge to store them for long periods. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to lose receipts or misplace logbooks, which is one of the many reasons why it can be helpful to have a digital app that keeps them all in the same place. Enter: the myDeductions tool. It’s free to use and is available through the ATO app. This app can help you organise and file your tax records. Once you are ready to prepare a tax return, you can upload your records to be pre-filled by the ATO or email them to your tax agent or yourself. Easy!
Do you need help with your tax return and/or Business Activity Statements? Get in touch with us today.