It’s that time of year again: Tax season in Australia! The worst season of them all. And, if you’re like most people, you’re trying to remember where you can get your Australian tax returns, so you can lodge your taxes and more on. There are a few options–one for locals and one for tourists/visitors:
- If you’re from Australian. If you’re from Australia, you’ve either gotten your notice of assessment or are about to. And if you haven’t, the best place to find out where it’s at is by contacting the ATO. After all, you can’t have Australian tax returns if you don’t know how much you owe. After you have your notice of assessment, you can lodge your Australian tax returns in a few places. You can go to a tax agent in your city and lodge with them. This tales a bit of time and a fair amount of money, but requires less effort on your part than other options. Great for those with the cash to spare, but not the time to do the lodging themselves. If you’re a little less wealthy (or maybe if you forgot to lodge your Australian tax returns until a few days before they were due…), e-lodging is probably the best option for you. It’s quick, easy, and much cheaper than a tax agent. It also usually has higher refunds than doing them by yourself, and often higher refunds than using a tax agent, which is a great bonus. And, of course, you can lodge directly with the ATO. Doing your Australian tax returns this way takes a bit more time and effort on your part (when was the last time you read any tax law?), but it’s free, which is good for those without the money to spare. It can take a while to get a notice, so don’t lodge with the ATO at the last minute.
- If you’re a tourist, student or visitor. If you’re not from Australia, how and when you get your Australian tax returns depends on how long you’ve been in the country. If you’re just travelling for a few weeks here, just save your receipts and declare big ticket items at customs. You’ll then get a tax return in a few weeks after filing–make sure to check and contact the ATO if you have any problems. If you’re a student or living here for a longer period of time, you should also be saving your receipts. If you’re here with a study abroad programme, it’s best to contact them and see if you even need to file Australian tax returns. If you do, make sure the ATO sends you a notice of assessment and follow the same steps as above. If you don’t need to file Australian tax returns, hang onto proof of those big ticket items and declare them with customs. Like tourists, you should get any VAT back a few weeks after declaring the goods.
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