Lodging a tax return: Your questions answered

Lodging a tax return can feel time-consuming and overwhelming. It’s one of those things you wish would just fall off your to-do list. But it’s something that most of us need to do every year, and it can sometimes be easier than you think. 

Here we’ll answer some of the most common questions about tax time, so you can feel prepared and informed.

Do I need to lodge a tax return?

You may need to lodge a tax return if you:

  • are an Australian resident and your income was more than $18,200 and had tax taken out.

  • had any income through a business or investment.

There are several other reasons you might need to lodge a return. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has a tool to check your tax obligations, Do I need to lodge a tax return?

Even if you don’t need to lodge a tax return, you may need to let the government know by submitting a non-lodgement advice form.

The Australian tax year lasts from 1 July to 30 June. Each year, you’ll need to lodge your return by 31 October, though this date may be deferred if you lodge through a tax agent.

Our Income Tax Calculator can help you estimate how much tax you should be paying based on your income, or you can try the ATO’s Simple tax calculator.

What information do I need to lodge a tax return? 

Where do you start when lodging a return? Step one is to prepare all the paperwork you’ll need. Depending on your circumstances, the ATO says you’ll need the following information:

  • bank account details 
  • income statement or payment summaries from your employers
  • payment summaries from Centrelink 
  • receipts or statements for the expenses you are claiming as deductions
  • your spouse's income 
  • private health insurance information 
  • bank interest summaries (if you have an account, you can get this through BOQ internet banking or the myBOQ app with a myBOQ account)
  • tax file number (TFN) for lodging online.

If you lodge online, some of this information might be pre-filled out for you.

What if it’s my first time?

If it’s your first time lodging a tax return in Australia, you’ll need to apply for a TFN through the ATO. You should also create a myGov account and link this to the ATO so you can apply online.

Read more tips on lodging your first tax return.

How do I lodge a tax return? 

You can lodge a tax return online with myTax, with a paper form or through a tax agent.

If you use a registered tax agent, it can save a lot of hassle. The cost of using a tax agent could be tax deductible. Check that your tax agent is registered with the Tax Practitioners Board. Learn more about finding a reliable tax agent at CPA Australia.

If you earned $60,000 or less in the tax year, you may be eligible for free help lodging your tax return through the ATO’s Tax Help program.

What can I claim as a tax deduction? 

You can claim lots of different work expenses as income tax deductions. Depending on your circumstances, these could include deductions for:

  • computers, stationery, and other equipment you need for work
  • transport and travel expenses, not including getting to and from work
  • protective gear
  • education and training
  • professional membership fees.

Most expenses have to relate directly to your job but there are a few exceptions, such as charitable donations to certain organisations and investment income expenses.

Read the ATO’s list of tax deductions.

Elinor Kasapidis, senior tax policy manager at CPA Australia, says it’s important to keep records of all expenses, such as receipts.

‘The ATO has a free myDeductions app to help you keep on top of your records. Using this regularly to keep track of your expenses and claims through the year can be a huge help,’ she says.

If you have a myBOQ account, then the myBOQ app is also a fantastic way to keep track of work expenses. It helps you manage your money, pay bills, set a budget and organise payments in categories. That way, you’ll be able to see all your work expenses in one place.

What can I claim on tax if I work from home?

‘This year, the ATO is taking a close look at work-related deductions,’ says Elinor. If you work from home, you now have to keep records to prove your expenses.

‘Since 1 March this year, you’re now required to keep a diary of every day you’ve worked from home and have copies of your bills and receipts,’ she says.

You can claim a portion of the running expenses of your home, such as electricity, home internet and mobile use and stationery. The ATO recommends two methods for calculating your home office expenses – the fixed rate method and the actual cost method.

Our tips

Be prepared

‘Don’t leave it until the last minute,’ says Elinor. ‘If you don’t have the time, skills or knowledge to do your own tax return then speak to a tax agent.’

Claim work expenses

Don’t forget what you’ve spent money on – track your expenses throughout the year using the myBOQ app.

Record everything when working from home

‘Get your record keeping right this tax time,’ says Elinor. ‘Keep a detailed diary throughout the year, noting down when you worked from home. Hold on to documents relating to your home expenses, such as electricity and other utility bills.’ 

Also, keep receipts for any new office furniture and home office cleaning expenses.

Be reasonable

‘Be realistic when submitting your tax return,’ says Elinor. ‘The tax office won’t accept a deduction for a packet of Tim Tams eaten in your coffee break at home. And as much as your colleagues like to see your pot plants, the ATO won’t want to see claims made for office decor.’

Get ready for the new financial year with myBOQ

The myBOQ app comes with tools and features to help you budget better, track your spending, and complete a swift and simple return process next financial year. 

Find out more


All information in this blog is of a general nature only and has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the appropriateness of any advice before acting on it. It may or may not be correct, depending on individual circumstances. You should not rely on this information as being correct for you, and you should obtain your own legal, financial and taxation advice as appropriate

BOQ’s Everyday Account, Future Saver, Smart Saver, and Simple Saver accounts are only available on the myBOQ app. You should obtain and read the my BOQ terms and conditions available through the myBOQ app or the Terms and Conditions and consider whether or not this product is appropriate for you.