Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is general in nature and should not to be taken as financial advice. Everyone’s financial circumstances are different, so please contact your accountant or financial adviser for advice relevant to your situation.
You don’t have to be a tax agent or accountant to get into the spirit of that magical time of the year finance fans call ‘End of Financial Year’. Uni students can also get in on the tax time fun, as you can sometimes claim a significant tax return during your degree, if you meet certain criteria. Want to get the low down on bringing your tax return up? Read on for more tax time tips.
1. Find out if you need to lodge a tax return?
The very first question you should ask. If you’re unsure whether you need to lodge, check out the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) nifty “ Do you need to lodge a tax return? online tool.
Don’t need to lodge a tax return? Great. You can sit, back and relax, not having to worry about flexing your taxation muscle.
Need to lodge a tax return? The next step for you is to gather all the right information.
2. Gather relevant documentation
Whether you decide to DIY your tax return lodgement, or seek the services of a tax agent, you’ll need to bring together some vital documents so you can include all the required information on your tax return. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Payment summaries
- Bank statements
- Shares, unit trusts or managed funds statement
- Buy and sell investment statements
- Other financial records
- Foreign income
- Private health insurance policy statement
- Other income
- Receipts of expenses. For example: If the study relates to your current job, you can claim expenses like course fees, student union fees, textbooks, stationery, internet, home office expenses, professional journals and some travel.
For more information visit the Australian Government Money Smart website.
ATO Smart Tip: If you wait until mid-August, the ATO will pre-fill your tax return with most information from employers, banks, government agencies and other third parties. You just have to check the information, enter any deductions you have, and submit. (source: ASIC’s Money Smart)
3. Figure out what you can claim
If your study relates to your current job – good news! – you can claim expenses like course fees, student union fees, textbooks, stationery, internet, home office expenses, professional journals and some travel (source: ASIC’s Money Smart).
What can’t you claim?
- Contributions made to loan schemes: Repayments you make (whether compulsory or voluntary) on debts you may have under loan schemes. Visit ato.gov.au for a comprehensive list.
- Self-education expenses: Where there is no direct connection to your current employment.
- The cost of accommodation and meals associated with day-to-day living expenses.
4. How to lodge (important dates)
Tax returns cover the financial year from 1 July to 30 June, and if you’re lodging your own, they are due by the 31 October deadline.. If you decide to use a registered tax agent, or are using a different agent from last year, you will need to contact them before 31 October. If you are lodging yourself, you can start the process online through the ATO.
5. Need more info?
Here are some links to great web resources and apps that will help you sail through tax time:
- myDeductions is an app from the ATO that makes it easier and more convenient to keep your tax deductions and income records all in one place.
- Under 25 and not sure about Tax Returns? Visit the ASIC website for information on your first tax return.
- International Students and tax returns: Visit the ATO’s webpage about studying in Australia for all the info you need to know if you are an international student studying in Australia.
- Created by ASIC, this budget planner will help you work out where your money is going and to simplify your budget.
- Head to the Study Assist webpage for information for students about government assistance for financing tertiary study.
We understand that studying at university can be financially challenging so we have put together some information to assist you to manage your finances while studying: cdu.edu.au/student-central/financial-assistance. CDU also offers an extensive range of scholarships to Vocational Education and Training and Higher Education students.
Remember, your qualification is an investment in your future, so embrace the end of financial year and make the most of your tax return as a university student.