Tax time is about to get underway again with with many Australians hoping for a decent return to help with the soaring cost-of-living.
More than 14 million people are expected to lodge an annual income tax return with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) this year.
As always, there’s lots of information to remember, from when you can submit your tax return and how to get the biggest refunds to when it’s due and who can get an extension.
Daily Mail Australia has provided a rundown of major points you should be aware of to help make things easier for you come tax return time.
A new financial year is just around the corner with tax returns able to be filed from July 1, though the ATO recommends you should wait until late July
When you can submit your tax return:
Tax information can be submitted from the first day of the new financial year, which is July 1, but there’s a good reason to leave it a few weeks.
The ATO recommends submitting your return in late July. This is because it will pre-fill certain information for you that takes two or three weeks to be sent and inputted into their system.
You can fill in all the information yourself beforehand but this could result in your return taking longer to process because the ATO need to compare what you’ve written to the information they have.
‘While you can lodge from July 1, there is a much higher chance that your return will be missing important information if you lodge your return before late July,’ ATO assistant commissioner Tim Loh said.
‘If you forget to include everything, it will slow down the progress of your return, and you’ll likely end up with more work to do down the track,’ Mr Loh said.
Taxpayers who jump online before their income statement is marked as ‘tax ready’ and their other pre-fill information has been received could experience processing delays and follow-up questions from the ATO.
From late July, most information from employers, banks, government agencies and health funds will be automatically loaded into tax return, regardless of if you’re using a registered tax agent or lodge your own return.
When it is due by:
For those lodging their own tax return, usually by using the online service, the due date is October 31, 2023.
Those that miss this deadline could be fined, with penalties reaching hundreds of dollars.
If you’re using a registered tax agent to help lodge your tax information there is an extension until May 15 next year – but you will need to engage the tax agent by the self-lodgment date of October 31.
Helpful tips on how to get the most money back:
Anything you want to deduct on this year’s tax return needs to be bought by this Friday, June 30, to qualify for a deduction.
Many retailers hold end of financial year sales so you might want to consider buying something this week that you are going to need in the next year.
The same goes for annual subscriptions or annual fees, paying them before June 30 can allow them to be declared on this years return and can even get you a discount for paying early.
Health funds can also offer end of financial year deals with many such as Bupa and AHM offering several weeks free cover if you sign up for two years. HCF is offering a $450 bonus towards your cover if you switch over to them.
The turnaround for a tax return submitted online using the myTax website is about two weeks, according to the ATO
What you can claim:
If you spend a lot of time working from home, there are also a number of items you’ll be able to claim, these include phone and internet expenses, stationary, printer paper, ink, and even office furniture.
For expenses incurred from March 1 this year, you’ll be able to claim 67 cents per hour while working from home, an increase from the standard rate of 52 cents per hour.
‘The major change is that people actually need to a really detailed daily diary, if they don’t do that, then they won’t be able to use the fixed rate method,’ managing director of Impact Taxation and Financial Services Brenda Ferguson said.
‘The new 67 cents per hour method doesn’t include office furniture, so that’s actually a little bit of good news for taxpayers because that means they can claim home office furniture separately on the top.’
Those who wear work specific clothing like uniforms or safety gear can claim these items.
The same goes for work specific tools and training seminars or conferences connected to work.
Compulsory medical assessments for your job and petrol and parking expenses incurred while doing your job can also be declared – just remember to keep receipts for anything you are claiming.
How long it takes to process a refund:
The turnaround for a tax return submitted online using the myTax website is about two weeks, according to the ATO.
For those lodging an old fashioned paper tax return through the post, the wait time can be a bit longer, with the ATO saying it could be up to 10 weeks.
When tax debts are due:
If instead of getting a refund you owe the ATO money, this needs to be paid by November 21, 2023.
Interest can be applied to any amounts not paid by that date.
Changes to tax rules this year:
There are no changes to personal income tax thresholds from July 1, 2023.
From July 2024, however, some tax thresholds will be removed, leaving only the 19 per cent, 30 per cent and 45 per cent tax brackets.
The low and middle income tax offset (LMITO) is no longer available for this year or 2024, which will see many people get lower refunds.
From July 1 this year, the threshold for the Medicare levy surcharge will be raised.
For singles, this increases from $90,000 to $93,000 before the tax applies, while for families it will increase from $180,000 to $186,000.
In Victoria, a windfall gains tax will apply to land subject to a government rezoning resulting in a value uplift to the land of more than $100,000.
Refunds take around two weeks to be processed but this can balloon up to 10 weeks if you submit returns by post