When should I lodge my tax return?

The financial year in Australia runs from 1st July until 30th June the following year. According to the Australian Tax Office, your tax return must be lodged by October 31st each year. However, this gives you a few months in which to complete your return and if you use a registered tax agent, you are allowed to lodge a tax return even later. So, from an economical point of view, when is your ideal lodgement date?

Expecting a refund?

If you are expecting a tax refund this year, you would be wise to lodge your return as soon as possible. Once refunded, the money can be earning interest for you, not the ATO. The fastest way to get a refund processed is to do your tax return electronically, either using the ATO's own e-tax software or an alternative ATO-approved online service.

Expecting to owe more?

Equally, if you are likely to owe additional tax, delay as long as legally possible. Find a tax agent with a long extension window and lodge your tax return at the last opportunity. Let your money work for you as long as you can before handing it over!

Other financial commitments?

Assess your financial calendar. If you have a certain time of year with large expenses, such as insurance renewal or membership fees, avoid lodging your return just before then. If you find yourself with a hefty tax bill in addition to the other outgoings, it could stretch you uncomfortably.

Are you prepared?

Ensure you have all your paperwork ready before lodging your tax return. You may be keen to lodge quickly and tick that task off for the year. However, if you have not collected together all relevant receipts, statements and records, you may have to make another appointment with your tax agent. This will be both an inconvenience and additional expense.

Leaving the country?

If you are migrating overseas, or are a temporary resident now returning to your own country, you can actually lodge your tax return before the 30th June end-of-financial-year date. You will need to contact the ATO directly to do this, but completing the paperwork and obtaining the correct forms from your employers will be a lot simpler whilst still onshore. It is worth remembering that future visas may be denied if you owe the Australian Government back taxes.

If you are unsure whether to expect a tax refund or tax bill after lodgement, your tax agent or accountant can review your return and advise you on your options.