How to file a tax return

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Whether you are just starting your first job or you’ve already been working for a couple of years, it is normal to not fully understand the concept of tax, especially the process of filing a tax return.

If this is the case, there is no need to worry, we are here to help! We’ve put together a simple and quick guide for individuals just like you, so you have all the knowledge and information readily available to file your tax return with ease.

Who needs to file a tax return?

Not everyone will need to file a tax return.

People who must file a tax return include:

  • Most individuals who earn more than $18,200 a year (before tax)  
  • An individual earning less than $18,200 who has been taxed through their job (if their employer wasn’t certain how much they would earn that year)

What means can I use to file a tax return?

There are four main ways you can lodge a tax return:

  • Online using myTax
  • Tax Help
  • The National Tax Clinic Program
  • Through a tax agent


Using myTax is the most common way students with casual and part time jobs lodge their tax return as it is easy and free to use. Also, this group don’t often have many deductions or extra sources of income to add to the mix.

To lodge online with myTax you will need a myGov account linked to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). If your myGov account isn’t linked to the ATO, click here to find out how!

If your myGov account is linked, you can start your tax return with myTax. Find out how to use myTax here.

Note: If you don’t have a myGov account, you will need to create one before you start using myTax (read our blog here to find out how to create an account).

Tax Help

Tax Help is a free, government service for people needing help with their tax return. However, not everyone can use this service. To find out if you are eligible, click here.

The National Tax Clinic program

The National Tax Clinic program can help people who:

  • cannot pay a tax agent
  • do not meet the rules to use Tax Help

This program is supported by the Government but run by universities with students learning about tax providing the assistance. This program is also free and has some eligibility requirements.

Tax Agent

Lastly, you can use your own tax agent to help you file your tax return (but this can be costly).

Note: If you plan to use a tax agent, it is important to check if they’re registered. A tax agent is registered if they’re on the ATO tax agent list.

When do I need to file my tax return?

By the end of financial year (30 June), information about your earnings from your employer, the Government and your bank will be collated together, and you can lodge your tax return using that information. Your employer updates this information every time they pay you through Single Touch Payroll.

If you’re doing your own tax return on myTax, it is crucial that you lodge it before 31 October. If you’re engaging an accountant to complete your tax return for you, the deadline is much later.

Before and after filing a tax return

To prepare to lodge your tax return, you will need:

  • Your Tax File Number
  • Payslips, income statements or Centrelink statements
  • Information on expenses such as receipts or invoices (if you would like to claim deductions)

Note: Claimable deductions may include work expenses such as a laptop, uniform or car essentials, charity donations and union fees. When filing your tax return on myTax, you can add your deductions to see whether you get any money back.

After you lodge your tax return, the ATO will use your information to work out:

  • if you paid too much tax and will get some money back from the ATO
  • if you did not pay enough tax and will need to pay more to the ATO

To learn about what tax is and how it works, read our blog post here.