Today is the deadline to file your tax return. Picture: iStock
Today is the deadline to file your tax return. Picture: iStock

Don’t get stung by scary tax deadline

MILLIONS of Australians have still not filed their latest tax return - but the 2019 deadline is now just hours away.

According to the Australian Tax Office, as many as 4.8 million of us haven't lodged our tax documents yet, even though the October 31 deadline has now arrived.

Those who miss that crucial cut-off date risk fines, which increase by $210 for every 28-day period you're overdue up to a maximum of $1050.

However, there is some good news. If you plan on hiring a tax agent to file on your behalf, you have an extended deadline of May 15, 2020.

But there is a catch - you'll have to be officially on an agent's books by the end of today if you want to avoid a penalty, so if you've been putting it off, make sure you contact a professional today to register your details.

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand senior tax advocate Susan Franks said the time to act was well and truly here.

"No one likes doing their tax but putting your head in the sand makes the problem worse not better," Ms Franks said.

"Millions of Australians have already received between $255 and $1080 in tax offsets this financial year, which is great motivation to get your return in ASAP.

"Before you hit the panic button, there is some good news if you are using an accountant - you have more time to lodge your return, provided you are registered on their books by 31 October - and as a bonus, the fees are also tax deductible."

Ms Franks said there were some tips and tricks when it came to making the lodgement of last-minute tax returns as painless as possible.

There’s just a few hours left to get your tax affairs in order. Picture: iStock
There’s just a few hours left to get your tax affairs in order. Picture: iStock

Firstly, Ms Franks said it was essential to gather your key documents together, including your tax file number, the details of the bank account you'd like any refund deposited into, your Medicare card details, receipts for any work-related expenses and your spouse's details, including their taxable income.

Next, she said it was crucial to report all sources of income.

"Any amounts received from second jobs will also need to be reported, as well as any income you may have received from popular platforms like Airbnb and Uber," she warned.

"The ATO receives information about these payments, so ensure that you report them in your

tax return."

Ms Franks said it was also crucial to understand what you can claim as a work expense.

"An expense may relate to your vehicle, clothing or computer which has helped you earn income during the year; however, what can be claimed varies from job-to-job," she said.

"Take care not to claim amounts that relate to private use. If you are unsure about what you can or can't claim, contact your local chartered accountant for advice.

"Also ensure that you can produce documentation of that expense to prove its existence."

She also advised Aussies to donate to charity during the year.

"Not only is giving to a charity that is a deductible gift recipient worthwhile, contributions over $2 are also tax deductible. That's called a win-win," she said.

Finally, Ms Franks warned that your employer may be using Single Touch Payroll.

"Many Australian employers are switching on Single Touch Payroll functions which report PAYG and super data to the ATO," she said.

"This year, some employees will not receive a group certificate but will be able to see the information that they need on myGov."

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