Next Step’s Tax Tips!
Tax time can be scary if you are claiming tax for the first time. But it’s worth doing – you might get some money back! Zoë Banks[i] is a young person living in Brisbane. She helped Next Step After Care come up with these tips for tax time. You can call Next Step After Care on 1800 NEXT STEP if you need a little extra help doing your tax.
Why pay tax?
Australians pay tax so the government can provide services to the community. Everyone gives a portion of what they earn back to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The Federal Government uses this money to build hospitals, schools, public housing, youth hostels, and whole lot of other things we need.
Do I need to lodge a tax return?
Not everyone has to lodge a tax return. If your gross income (or the total amount you earn before tax is taken out) is under $18,200 then you are in the tax-free threshold[iii], which means you don’t have to pay tax. You can find out more about the tax-free threshold here: https://www.ato.gov.au/General/Tax-terms/In-detail/Employment,-income—tax-returns/What-is-the-tax-free-threshold-/.
Zoë’s Tax-time Tips!:
“I think they’ve changed the e-tax computer program. The first time I did my tax, it took me almost an hour! Last year it only took fifteen minutes,” says Zoe.
- Read all the questions carefully! The language can be tricky.
- Ask someone who’s done it before, like a friend, or maybe an adult at Next Step
- Keep your receipts! Try to keep your receipts, so you can claim work related or study related expenses if eligible. You can use a plastic sleeve or folder to store your
- Put your group certificate in a safe place! To verify you’ve worked and stuff.
- Before you submit your tax return, get someone to check your information, so you’ve done it right. Otherwise you won’t learn how to do it yourself.
- Keep your receipts! Try to keep your receipts, so you can claim work-related or study-related expenses if eligible. You can use a plastic sleeve or folder to store your receipts.
- Know what deductions you can claim. Some industries allow you to claim work expenses, such as uniforms, work shoes, work-related travel, or training costs.
“If you don’t know,” Zoë says, “just ASK!”
¿ ¿ ¿ I’M STILL CONFUSED ABOUT TAX STUFF ? ? ?
- How do I find my Tax File Number (TFN)?
If you have ever been employed, you have a TFN. If you’ve lost it, or don’t know what your TFN is, you can get it by calling the ATO on 13 28 61[iv]. The person you speak to may need to know your date of birth, full name, and address to help find it for you. If you need assistance you can ask Next Step After Care for help on 1800 NEXT STEP.
- When do I have to finish my tax return by?
You have up until the 31 October, 2015 to lodge your tax return – so don’t stress! Completing your tax return may be time-consuming, but it is a good life skill to develop.
Tax returns can be confusing at times. You should give yourself plenty of time to complete your tax return, so that it is done by the end of October.
- How do I lodge my tax return?
The quickest and simplest way to lodge a tax return is online, using e-tax. You need the internet to download this program. If you don’t have access to the internet, your local Brisbane City Council library should be able to help you. You can find your nearest library here: http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/facilities-recreation/libraries/library-opening-hours-locations.
- Where can I get extra help to lodge my tax return?
If you need additional help, you may be eligible to use “tax help”, a free program set up by the ATO (link). Tax Help is a network of community volunteers who use myTax to help young people complete their tax returns during tax time. This is a free and confidential service.
~ * ~ * ~ You can call or text Next Step After Care at 1800 NEXT STEP. Nobody likes doing taxes, in fact, a lot of people really struggle with them. If you need help, take the next step and contact one of the Next Step ~ * ~ * ~
[i] Zoë Banks is a pseudonym for the young person who wishes to remain anonymous in this blog