Top tax tips

tax time

Tackling your tax in 2016

It's tax time again. Follow our top tax tips to make tax time a breeze.

Pull together your paperwork

Before you lodge your tax, you will need to make sure you have all the paperwork and information you need to make sure your tax return is accurate.

The ATO will pre-fill some information from banks, super funds and Centrelink into your online tax return from August, so if you complete your tax return after this, you will save time and be less likely to make a mistake. However, you will still need to check that the pre-filled information is accurate.

Here are some of the documents you will need for your 2015/16 tax return.

Your income

  • Payment summaries - These outline the income you have received from your employer, super funds or payments from government agencies like Centrelink or the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Bank statements - Will show any interest you have earned during the period.
  • Shares, unit trusts or managed funds statements - To work out any dividends or distributions made to you.
  • Buy and sell investment statements - You can get these from your investment adviser or stockbroker if you bought or sold any shares. 
  • Records from your rental property - Includes information relating to a capital gain or capital loss from the sale of a property. 
  • Foreign income details - Details of foreign pensions or other foreign income.

Your expenses

  • Private health insurance policy statement - You will need this to complete the private health insurance section of your tax return.
  • Donation receipts - From any approved charities you contribute to. 
  • Educational records and receipts - Not all expenses are claimable, see the ATO's self-education expenses page for more information.
  • Investment property receipts - These will help you claim the costs of repairs and maintenance on your investment property.
  • Your spouse's income and expenses - If you have a spouse, you will also need details of their income and expenses to make sure your entitlements are correctly calculated.
  • Union membership - You can deduct the cost of your union membership from your taxable income.
  • Work related expenses - You may be able to claim some work related expenses, but there are some expenses you won't be able to claim even if they are work related. See claim your deductions for more details.

Changes to the Medicare levy and private health insurance rebate

Since 1 July 2015 the income thresholds used to calculate the private health insurance rebate and the Medicare levy surcharge have been frozen at the 2014-15 levels for 3 years. This could push you into a higher private health insurance rebate threshold if your income increases. This would mean that:

  • if you have private health insurance, your rebate entitlement may decrease.
  • if you do not have the appropriate level of private health insurance, you may have to pay the Medicare levy.
  • if you paid the Medicare levy surcharge last year, the levy you pay this year may increase.

If you receive a pay increase, you should contact your health insurer to ensure the correct rebate is applied. For more information visit the ATO's webpage on private health insurance income thresholds.

Claim your deductions                                                                   

You may be able to claim a deduction for some costs related to your job. Expenses must be:

  • Real - you must have spent the money yourself and not been reimbursed
  • Relevant - expenses must be related to your job; and
  • Recorded - you must have a record to prove you paid for it.

Visit the ATO's website for more details about claiming work-related expenses.

myDeductions

You can use the myDeductions tool in the ATO app to help keep track of your deductions. The tool allows you to record work-related expenses, gifts and donations, store photos of receipts, and record car trips. myDeductions is only for individuals claiming work-related expenses as employees, not for small business owners.

From 1 July 2016 you can pre-fill the deductions in your online tax return by uploading them from the app, or you can share the information directly with your registered tax agent.

Video: Get your deductions right

Get your deductions right

Take a look at the ATO's video about the rules on claiming your deductions

Transcript: Get your deductions right

Lodge your tax online or with a tax agent

Smart tip

To lodge online, you will need to create a myGov account and then link it to the ATO.

You can lodge your tax return online using myTax - it's quick, easy, safe and secure. Visit the ATO website to find out how to lodge online.

Once you have lodged your tax return keep an eye on your myGov inbox for your notice of assessment and tax receipt.

Need 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. You can check if the agent is registered on the online tax and BAS agent register.

See our choosing an accountant webpage for more details.

Video: Protect your personal information

protect your personal information

Take a look at the ATO's video on how to protect your personal information.

Transcript: Protect your personal information

Lodge your return before the deadline

If you are lodging your own tax return online or by paper, you have until 31 October 2016 to lodge it. If you decide to use a registered tax agent, you can lodge later but you will need to have contacted the tax agent before 31 October to qualify.

Make tax this year as easy as possible by getting organised and knowing what information you will need to lodge.


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Last updated: 30 May 2016