Preparing Your Personal Income Tax Return

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It’s the end of the financial year. That means you need to lodge your personal tax return. This can often be a complex process but it can be made much quicker and simpler if you make sure you have all the essential information ready to give to your accountant when you’re meeting to prepare your return. It will also ensure you only end up paying the amount of tax you actually owe. Here’s what you need to provide.

Essential information

Your accountant will need some basic personal information from you to begin with:

  • Proof of identification
  • Your bank account details, so you can have your refund deposited directly into your account
  • Your MyGov login, if you’ve previously used MyTax or e-tax
  • Your PAYG summary
  • Your Medicare card or number, if you want to pre-fill your medical expenses
  • If you have private health insurance, you will also need to provide your insurance statement.

Details of your income and expenditure

As well as your PAYG summary, your accountant will also need to see information about any other income you have. You will need to provide:

  • Payment summaries from any super funds you have
  • Receipts for gifts or donations you’ve received
  • Details of child support payments you’ve made
  • Details of your second job if you have one
  • Information on rental or holiday let properties you own
  • Information on any investments you’ve made
  • Details of any foreign income
  • The amount of interest your bank account has accumulated.

If you’re married, you will also have to give details of your spouse’s income and expenditure. This is because some tax obligations and benefits are assessed using the income of your family as a whole, rather than just your individual income – these include any tax offsets on medical expenses.

Claiming work-related expenses

Your accountant will need to see all invoices and receipts for work-related expenses you’re claiming. If you don’t provide receipts, the maximum amount you can claim is $300 – that’s why it’s vital that you keep all your receipts throughout the year and make sure your financial records are accurate and up-to-date.

To claim work-related expenses over $300, you’ll also need to supply other related information, such as credit card statements, BPay receipt numbers, your travel logbook and Home Office logbook.

If you own a rental property

If you own a rental property, you have to include this as an additional source of income. You will have to provide your accountant with the amount of rental income you’ve earned but you will also need to prove the expenditure – how much interest you’ve had to pay on money you borrowed to buy the property, and any other expenses you’ve had relating to the property, including capital works.

If your rental property is a holiday let, the rules are slightly different. You can only claim deductions for the period of time that it’s available for rent. If you’ve stayed there personally during this financial year or you’ve let friends or family stay there for free, you can’t claim for these periods.

Any expenses claimed for a property you own with your spouse must be split down the middle of both tax returns – you can only claim for the percentage of the property you own.

If you live or work overseas part of the time

Anyone living or working overseas for part of the year still has to file a tax return in Australia. You mustn’t forget to declare all income you receive from other countries. This can include:

  • Employment
  • Pensions and annuities
  • Capital gains on assets you hold overseas
  • Income from overseas investments
  • Income from a business based overseas.

Questions to ask your accountant

You should ask your accountant about any deductions you may be entitled to. These can include motoring expenses – if you use your car to travel between different workplaces or have to carry heavy objects in your car, you may be entitled to deductions. You can’t claim for driving to or from work, however.

If you work from home, you can claim deductions for home office equipment and services, such as IT-related expenses, stationery, and even a percentage of your phone and energy bills.

You may even be entitled to a deduction based on any money you’ve given to charity this year. It’s important to mention all these things and any other circumstances you feel will affect the amount of tax you should be paying to your accountant, so they can advise you.

Don’t forget…

The ATO is thorough and will spot any errors or omissions in your tax return. It’s vital that you use accurate, provable figures instead of guessing anything. If you make a mistake, however, and realise after you’ve lodged your tax return, or if something changes such as receiving an updated payment summary when you have already sent your tax return in, you can ask for your income tax assessment to be amended. The best way to ensure you’ve provided all the correct information and maximised your claims is to call your accountant. Accountants are tax professionals, and will be able to make the tax process far more efficient and less stressful.

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