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Tax Return FAQ

Q: How do I lodge my tax return?
A: There are several ways to prepare your tax return:

  • Lodge online with e-tax
    You can download the e-tax software from the Australian Taxation Office website.
  • Lodge by mail
    You can download a copy of TaxPack, a free document to help you complete your tax return, ask for a copy through ATO's online publications ordering service or get one free from most newsagents.
  • Lodge by phone
    If you received the form titled "Short tax return for individuals" via the mail, you can lodge your tax return, provided that your taxes are rather simple.
  • Through a registered tax agent
    Your tax agent must be registered with the Tax Practitioners Board.

Q: When do I lodge my tax return?
A: A financial year begins every July 1 and ends on June 30 the following year. After the financial year ends, you can file your tax return until October 31. If you have a tax agent, you can lodge later than October 31, but you have to be registered as a client before October 31 to qualify.

If you can’t file your tax return by October 31, or by your tax agent’s lodgement date, call the ATO at 13 28 61 to see if you can file at a later date. Take note that there are penalties for late lodgement.

Q: What happens if I don’t lodge my tax return on time?
A: The ATO might apply a penalty if you fail to lodge your tax return on time. According to the ATO, however, it doesn’t apply a penalty if your tax return is filed voluntarily and doesn’t result in a tax payable.

The ATO said it is likely to apply a penalty if you have more than one outstanding tax return, have a poor lodgement history or if you haven’t complied with a request to lodge your tax return.

You will also be sent a "default assessment warning letter", or DAWL, which will sum up the income where the default assessment will be based. The DAWL will inform you the date when you need to file the late tax return if you want to avoid being issued with a default assessment.

Q: What happens if my tax return is incomplete?
A: If your tax return is incomplete, the ATO will send it back to you. If this occurs, your tax return will be considered lodged on the date that you hand over the completed tax return.

Q: What happens next after I lodge my tax return?
A: The ATO will send you a notice of assessment, which informs you if you’re going to get a refund or if you have more taxes to pay. Make sure you double check this notice and inform the ATO if there’s a mistake.

If you lodged electronically, the notice of assessment usually arrives within two weeks. If you lodged a paper return, it would arrive in six weeks.

The earliest date you have to pay a tax debt is November 21. However, the date has nothing to do with the date you filed your tax return.