For some: the prospect of some free money. For others: the fear of a hefty tax bill. But for a final group of chronic procrastinators: an anxious reminder that last year's tax return (and the prior year's? and the years before that?) is still unfinished.
Stop procrastinating. You've either got a tax bill that's accruing interest, or you've got a tax return that isn't accruing interest, and you need to fix it right now.
Step 1: Find your documents
You need a few things to make your claim. Search your pile of 'important paper' for:
- Your PAYG statements. You'll need the end-of-financial-year statements you got from your employer(s) in each of the tax years that you haven't completed a return for. If you're missing one, pick up the phone and get your employer (or ex-employer) to send you a new statement.
- Receipts for deductions. You may think that this is a lost cause, but hold up a sec. Do a search through your emails for 'receipt' - you're looking for anything that was an expense related to your profession. Search for 'charity' or 'tax deductible' - any payment over $2 to registered charities is deductible. If you're really keen, scan your credit card / bank statements for possible transactions
Step 2: Download old e-tax software
The ATO doesn't offer prior year e-tax software for download, but you can download them all here. You won't be able to submit them electronically, but e-tax will be able to print out your completed tax return for you - which will save you a lot of heartache with pen and paper.
Step 3: Take 5 minutes for some preventative medicine
Set up a folder in your email client called 'tax deductions'. Whenever you get a receipt that is tax deductible, send it to this folder (if it's paper, scan it in and chuck it in). This will save you time and money come the end of tax time this year.
But Prosple, I'm not going to do any of this!
Get an accountant. They'll do all the grunt work for you, and they are on top of the rules about deductions and documentation. They'll charge you a fee for their services, and this fee is also tax deductible.
Want some tax tips for maximising your return? Check out our tax tips from last year, which are all still relevant for this year.