Prepare for tax time

Find out what you can do to prepare for tax time before July.

Getting prepared

Access ATO online services

To prepare and lodge a tax return online, you need a myGov account with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) linked to it. Find out how to link the Australian Tax Office to your myGov account.

You can lodge your tax return using myTax in ATO online services through myGov or the ATO app.

Tax refunds are only paid into an Australian bank account. When you lodge your tax return, you should check and update your bank details. You can also update your bank details before you lodge your tax return in ATO online services through myGov.

Your tax file number

Your tax file number (TFN) is your unique reference number in the tax system. To prepare and lodge a tax return online, you need a TFN.

Medicare levy and Medicare Entitlement Statement

The Medicare levy helps fund the costs of Medicare, Australia's public health care system. Your Medicare levy may reduce if your taxable income is below a certain amount. In some cases you may be exempt from paying the Medicare levy.

If you’re not eligible for Medicare benefits, you can apply to be exempt from paying the Medicare levy. You need to get a Medicare Entitlement Statement (MES) from Services Australia to ask for an exemption.

You need to get your MES before you lodge your tax return. The MES will confirm you were not entitled to Medicare benefits for all or part of the year.

Wait to receive your MES before lodging your tax return. It can take up to 8 weeks for your application to be processed and for you to receive your MES from Services Australia.

If you need to pay the Medicare levy, you may also have to pay the Medicare levy surcharge. This is an amount on top of the Medicare levy.

Things to do:

Keep records for income and expenses

You need to keep records for income and expenses you report in your tax return. There are specific records you need to keep for some expenses.

For most income types you will have an income statement or payment summary. For investment income you may have a distribution statement or similar.

For work-related and other expenses, you must have records to be able to claim a deduction in your tax return. Records may include receipts or a logbook, and can be paper or electronic. You can’t claim a deduction without them. Deductions reduce your taxable income.

Things to do:

Avoid a tax bill

You pay tax on most income you earn. Most people have tax withheld by their payers throughout the year, which usually covers the amount of tax they need to pay.

If you earn income and tax is not withheld or not enough tax is withheld, you may have a tax bill when you lodge your tax return. There are some things you can do to avoid getting a tax bill.

Things to do:

Before lodging

Find out what you can do at the beginning of July each year before you do your tax.

Do you need to lodge a tax return?

You need to lodge either a tax return or non-lodgement advice every year with the ATO.

Use the ATO’s ‘Do I need to lodge?’ tool in your ATO online services account to check if you need to lodge:

  1. Sign in to your myGov account.
  2. Select Australian Taxation Office from your services.
  3. Select Manage tax returns.
  4. Select Not lodged tab.
  5. Under the heading 'Outcome' select Do I need to lodge? for the relevant income year.

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

Family Tax Benefit and Child Care Subsidy payments

Services Australia balances Family Tax Benefit (FTB) and Child Care Subsidy (CCS) payments to make sure you were paid the right amount.

After 30 June each year, you’ll need to confirm your income by either lodging a tax return or submitting a non-lodgement advice to the ATO so your payments can be balanced.

You have one year to confirm your income otherwise your payments will be affected.

Things to do:

  • Learn what families need to do at tax time on the Services Australia website.
  • When you lodge, check that your phone number, address, and bank account details are up to date to ensure your tax return can be processed quickly.

Check for changes that can affect your tax return

Before you prepare your tax return, check for any changes that may affect what you need to report or what you can claim, like an emergency payment.

The ATO provides occupation and industry specific guides that cover the income you need to declare, deductions you can claim and what records you need to keep.

Things to do:

Wait for your information to pre-fill

The best time to lodge your tax return is from late July, because by then:

  • your income statement will usually be marked as ‘Tax ready’ by your employer
  • other available information will pre-fill to your tax return for you.

Pre-fill information can save you time and help you get your tax return right. Pre-fill financial information can come from health funds, banks, employers, government agencies and more.

Things to do:

  • Find out more about pre-fill availability on the ATO website.
  • Wait until your information pre-fills before you do your tax return.

Page last updated: 18 July 2023