Tax tips for new taxpayers

Lodging your first income tax return can be daunting. Let us help you get ready

Lodge a return

You can lodge your tax return online using myTax, through a registered tax agent or using a paper return. If you’re preparing and lodging your own tax return, you have until Monday 31 October.

It may be useful for you to go over the process with an accountant or tax agent with your first return, and ask all the questions you need answers for, so that you have a better understanding of the entire process before trying to do it yourself ‘the next time’.

If you’re using a tax agent, you need to contact them before 31 October to take advantage of extended due dates.

If you haven’t lodged your 2021 or earlier tax returns yet, it’s important to get up to date as soon as possible to avoid penalties

Get your refund

If your total taxable income for the year ended 30 June 2022 is below the tax-free threshold of $18,200, you may not need to lodge an income tax return. Due to the low-income tax offset and low-and-middle income tax offset, the effective tax-free threshold is $25,436.

However, if you have had tax withheld from your income during the year including from your wages, you must lodge a tax return to get these amounts refunded to you. Check that your income statement shows all your earnings and the amount of tax taken out, as well as superannuation payments if you’re entitled.

Set up your MyGov account

If you haven’t already, you should set up your myGovID and myGov account. You can then link government services, including the ATO, to your account. 

Most employers will send your income statement via myGov. You will also be able to see your superannuation information there as well. 

If you use a tax agent, they’ll be able to access this information for you.

Your income and expense

To figure out whether you need to lodge a tax return, identify all sources of income for the year. A lot of this information will be prefilled for you by the ATO by mid-August. This will save you time and means you’ll be less likely to leave something out.

Income that needs to be reported to the ATO includes:

  • income from work as an employee or a contractor including cash payments
  • investment income, such as bank interest, share dividends or renting out your car
  • capital gains or losses on when you sell or exchange cryptocurrency, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), shares and other investments
  • certain government payments such as Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY, living allowance and Austudy
  • some non-government scholarships, grants and awards
  • distributions from a family trust or partnership.

You should also keep records for costs associated with earning your income so that you can claim any eligible expenses and reduce your tax bill.

Read more in our tax tips for employees and contractors

HELP debts

Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debt repayments are not tax deductible.

If you have a HELP debt, repayments begin once your adjusted Taxable Income exceeds $47,014 for 2021–22. People who are overseas with a HELP debt are required to make repayments based on their worldwide income. 

If you’ve told your employer you have a HELP debt, your employer will withhold additional tax from your salary to cover any repayments once your income exceeds the threshold.

Special rules for those under 18

Help with your taxes

The ATO’s Tax Help program is available to eligible recipients from July to October in all capital cities and many regional areas across Australia.

There is also a National Tax Clinic program available to eligible individuals, small businesses, not-for-profit organisations and charities.

Tax agents may also offer special student or discount rates.

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