How To Lodge Your Own Tax Return
It’s the start of July and in Australia that means: Tax Return Time! Like so many other backpackers/working holiday visitors we were looking forward to getting some extra cash back. For the time being, we (The Working Holiday Visa-community) are still eligible to get ALL our tax back. WHV-holders normally pay 0% taxes in Australia. Our employers will hold off between 15% and 25% from our payslip, but by the end of the tax year (or when you leave Australia, whichever comes first) you can claim it all back.
Lots of agencies, accountants and backpacker travel offices are offering to do this for you. To save you the hassle of this “difficult and complicated” task. They all promise you you will get 98 or 99% back. Don’t be fooled. You are entitled to 100% tax back if you earned up to $ 18200 (for all earnings over $ 18200 you will be taxed 19%). And if you do it yourself, you will. The agencies will take 1% or 2% off your tax return, it’s their commission for doing the work for you.
But it’s not really difficult to do this yourself! MyTax, from the Official Australian Taxation Office, has a prefilled form that you just need to complete with accurate information. You will need:
- your Tax File Number
- your passport
- your mobile phone that’s charged to make a call
- the address you have registered your tax file number on
- all your payslips or tax summaries from your employers.
Normally the tax summaries get send out to you by the beginning of July. They should look like this:
If your employers have not send you any tax summaries yet, you can calculate them yourself. Per employer, count together all the tax. That’s the amount you should get back. If you count together this with all the salaries you have been paid, that will be your gross wage for that employer.
Tip: Upload all your payslips and documents from your trip to an online storage/cloudservice like Dropbox or Google Drive, or iCloud. This way you have no hassle with all the paper work, which are safely storaged in a folder in case you ever need them.
Step 1: Create a MyGov-Account
You can only lodge your Tax Return if you have a MyGov – account. So first you need to create one. Go to https://my.gov.au and create an account. Next, log in to your MyGov account and go to ‘Services’. Here you can link your account to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), but you will need a linking code. Without it the site will tell you you are not eligible to link.
Step 2: Link your MyGov-Account to the ATO
Make a phone call to 13 28 61. The automated message will ask for your Tax File Number and your Date of Birth. You will also need to leave a voiceprint before you will be connected to a real person. When you get someone on the line, tell them you want to lodge your tax return, but you can not link your MyGov account to the ATO. They will first ask you a few questions to establish your identity, like your passport number and adress (make sure this is the adress that is linked to your TFN). This person should be able to supply you with the linking code.
If they tell you to wait a few days, tell them you friend just called a few minutes ago and got a linking code right away. They will then give you yours as well. Depends who you get on the line.
If you want to reach ATO from abroad then you can try this number: +61 2 6216 1111 (Overseas enquiries, 8am–5pm, Monday–Friday (Australian Eastern Standard Time), except national public holidays)
Step 3: Lodge your Tax Return
As soon as you are linked, you should be still on the services-page. Click on the link for ‘Australian Taxation Office’. Here it will give you a notice (for Action) that you need to lodge your tax return. Click ‘lodge’. You will be directed to the MyTax website. First update your contact details and your bank account number, this will be the account you want your tax return money to go to. Next, fill in the correct dates that you were in Australia. If you were here only part of the tax year, first say “no” and then enter the dates. If you are planning on working in Australia after the 30th of June 2016, (or you don’t know) answer “yes” to the next question – do you have to lodge another tax return next year?
Next is the actual lodge. Check if all the prefilled information is correct and change it if you have to. If necessary, add extra pay summaries for more employers if they are missing. You can do this with the help of your tax summaries. Only fill in the first four boxes, unless you specifically know of anything else here. Otherwise the first four is enough.
Check all the correct boxes about Medicare and Income and press calculate. Here you can check the amount you should get back. You can always go back now if you forgot something or need to change any information from your tax return. If you are ready then tick the box to sign the declaration and lodge your tax return. And that’s it. Now you just wait until you get your money back and the rest of your travels can continue!
Helpful? Let us know in the comments below!