Alright smart-arse, we hear you every damn year talking about all the sneaky ways you’re going to cheat the tax return system. Turns out, you’re not. But also, we totally feel you, everyone who has ever accidentally missed a detail and only realised after the form is submitted. But you know, your tax return is so small on the scale of things, no-one’s ever going to check it, right? Wrong, you poor fool.
Senior tax agent over at Etax.com.au, Liz Russell, has been kind enough to point out the shit you’ve all pulled at some point, but definitely shouldn’t because it’s pretty likely to get you a slap on the hand from the ATO.
Those Cheeky Side-Gigs Don’t Actually Need To Be Declared
Ahhh, yes. Yes, they do. The Government already knows about the other bits and bods bringing extra money into your life, from Centrelink to Uber and even Airtasker. So just, be upfront, K?
Max Out Those Deductions That Don’t Need Receipts
First of all, without a receipt you’re looking at up to $300 for general work-related expenses, $150 for laundry expenses (which only works if you’re actually required to wear a uniform) and car expenses without proof are only covered for up to 5,000km, so if you’re going above those you’re already in trouble.
Even if you’re not though, the ATO is planning on looking at these work-related expenses very closely this year.
If you decide to just max them out and it ends up being way more than everyone else in your field, you’re setting yourself up for extra attention from the big guys. Turns out the ATO benchmarks everyone in your job together to get an idea of what’s required.
If it’s a legit expense go ahead, but keep it realistic.
Those Debts Are Future You’s Problem
Not if it’s the government you’re owing. If you’re in debt to any government group, including Centrelink, that’s very possibly going to cause delays for your tax return. They may even keep your tax refund and use it to help pay for your debts.
My Details Are Old, But It’s The Government, They’ll Work It Out
Believe me, one lost sim card and several years living in another country have taught me how painful it is to change anything about your tax details. But if something has changed and you haven’t updated the ATO, you’re going to have to wait a lot longer to get that sweet, sweet tax refund while they waste time trying to work out who the hell you are.
Personally, I recommend giving them a call because they were actually quite helpful, but that’s just one woman’s take.
I Skipped My Tax Return Last Year, But That’s Fine
No, it’s actually not. Don’t be surprised if the ATO waits it out until you’re up to date before you receive a dime.
Capital Gains Stuff Is Complicated And I Barely Got Anything So I’ll Just Skip it
Come on now, unlike me, you’ve been adult enough to actually get yourself a couple of shares or you’ve invested in your own rental property (and are now my best friend). Go the extra mile and reflect that in Item 18 on your tax return. If you don’t you could easily be flagged by the ATO, thanks to their fancy tech that matches the data you submit with other government agencies and financial institutions.
They’re kind of good at working this stuff out guys, you’re not about that life.
My Spouse Doesn’t Get To Touch My Money, I’m Not Putting Them On Here
Loving the independent vibes, but yeah you do have to include their correct and up-to-date details on your form.
I Own Nothing Of Interest
Again, wrong, probably. Most savings bank accounts have a least a tiny amount of interest. It counts, you have to include it on your return or once again prepare for delays with the ATO.
This One Isn’t On You, But You Need TO Know It
If your employer hasn’t submitted your PAYG to the ATO, then the government has no point of reference to cross-check what you’re telling them. This is yet another thing that can delay your refund so get on to your work if they’re dragging their feet.
At best, ignoring these tips and continuing on with your slightly cheeky tax return will delay the process to you getting those dollars back. At worst (assuming you’re not actually a criminal mastermind hoodwinking the government of buttloads) you’re looking at a decent penalty that completely defeats the purpose of trying to get yourself a bigger return in the first place. So before you do it, don’t.