Prepare for tax time

What you can do to prepare for tax time before you lodge.

Work out if you need to lodge a tax return

You’ll need to work out if you should lodge a tax return or non-lodgment advice with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

You may not need to lodge a tax return depending on your income.

You can work out if you need to lodge a tax return on the ATO website.

What you’ll need

Your tax file number

Your tax file number (TFN) is your unique reference number in the tax system. You need a TFN to claim the tax-free threshold and to prepare and lodge your tax return online.

If you have a TFN you can find it in your ATO online account through myGov.

You can find out how to apply for a TFN on the ATO website if you don’t have one.

Records of your income and expenses

You need to keep records of the income and expenses you report in your tax return.

You may have:

  • an income statement or payment summary showing the amount of money you earned and how much tax you paid
  • documents showing income from investments, such as a distribution statement
  • receipts or a logbook for work-related expense deductions.

For work-related and other expenses, you must have records to claim a deduction in your tax return. Deductions can reduce your taxable income.

Work out the income you need to declare in your tax return, what you can claim and which records you need. These links will take you to the ATO website.

Understanding what happens at tax time

In your tax return you give information to the ATO about your income, any work-related expenses you can claim and other relevant financial details.  

This is used to:

  • check if enough tax was withheld from your income your income may be paid work or government payments
  • work out how much Medicare levy you need to pay, and if you need to pay the Medicare levy surcharge
  • check if the rebate on your private health insurance is right
  • calculate your compulsory repayment amount for a study and training support loan
  • balance your Family Tax Benefit (FTB) and Child Care Subsidy (CCS) to make sure you were paid correctly
  • work out and confirm your child support assessment.

Paying the right amount of tax

You pay tax on most types of income you receive. Your income may come from working for an employer, profit from a business, having an investment or bank interest. Your income may also include government payments and allowances.

Find out more about how tax works and how much you pay.

You can find out about the taxable government payments and allowances on the ATO website.  

If you haven’t paid enough tax, you might have a tax bill. If you get a tax bill and can’t pay by the due date, find out how to get help with paying on the ATO website.

You can also ask Services Australia to deduct tax from eligible taxable Centrelink payments you get. Find out how to deduct tax from your payment on the Services Australia website.

Understand the Medicare levy and the Medicare levy surcharge

The Medicare levy is an extra amount you pay in your tax that helps fund Medicare. The Medicare levy is calculated by the ATO when you lodge your tax return. In certain circumstances you may not have to pay the levy, or the amount you pay may be reduced.

You may also need to pay the Medicare levy surcharge. Generally, you will pay the surcharge if you or your family don’t have an appropriate level of private health insurance for the whole year.

Find out more about the Medicare levy and the Medicare levy surcharge on the ATO website.

Understand the private health insurance rebate

If you have private health insurance you may be able to get the private health insurance rebate. The rebate can reduce your health insurance premiums or be used as a tax offset in your tax return. Any rebate amount is based on your, and your family’s, income.

Find out about claiming the private health insurance rebate on the ATO website.

Study and training support loans

If you have a study or training support loan, you’ll make compulsory repayments when you lodge your tax return. You make repayments when your income is more than the minimum payment threshold. This can happen while you’re still studying or doing your apprenticeship.

The ATO will work out any compulsory repayment amount and include it on your notice of assessment.

Find out how study and training support loans work on the ATO website.

Family Tax Benefit and Child Care Subsidy payments

If you get FTB and CCS you'll need to confirm your income each year.

Your income is confirmed when you lodge a tax return with the ATO. The ATO will tell Services Australia your income. If you don’t need to lodge a tax return and you get CCS, you must tell Services Australia even if you’ve already told the ATO.

Services Australia will compare your estimated and actual income amounts, to make sure you received the right amount of FTB and CCS. This is called balancing your payment.

You have one year to confirm your income otherwise it will affect your Centrelink payments.

Check what families need to do at tax time on the Services Australia website.

Child support

If you pay or receive child support you’ll need to confirm your income each year.

Your income is confirmed when you lodge a tax return or a non-lodgment advice with the ATO. The ATO will tell Services Australia your income.

If you paid child support you include this amount in your tax return. Services Australia use this to work out your adjusted taxable income.

You can get the amount you paid from your Child Support online account.

If you received child support, you don't need to report it in your tax return as it’s not a taxable payment.

Find out more about child support at tax time on the Services Australia website.

Medicare levy exemption if you’re not eligible for Medicare

If you and your dependants aren’t eligible for Medicare, you can apply to be exempt from paying the Medicare levy in your tax return. This could be for all or part of the year.

To apply you’ll need a Medicare Entitlement Statement (MES) from Services Australia. It may take up to 8 weeks for you to get your MES.

Once you get your MES you can submit your tax return and claim the exemption.

Find out more about who can get it and how to get a MES on the Services Australia website.

Protect your information

Scammers can attempt to get your personal information online.  

They can use your personal information to sign in to your online accounts such as myGov, use your bank accounts or access your finances.

When you’re getting ready to do your tax, make sure you’re only dealing with genuine websites. To safely access your myGov account and linked services use the official myGov app, or type into your browser to sign in.

There are things you can do to protect your information:

Page last updated: 14 June 2024