How to File Taxes in Australia

Last updated on March 28th, 2024 at 11:00 am

Learning about filing your taxes may not be the most exhilarating aspect of moving to Australia, but it’s certainly important if you’re going to work Down Under. This guide will take you through the essentials, from who is required to file a tax return in Australia, to how the whole process actually works. Let’s dive in.

Who needs to file a tax return in Australia?

If you live in Australia and your income is more than the tax-free threshold – which at the time of writing is $18,200 – then you’ll usually have to file a tax return. This is the case even if your employer automatically withholds your income tax payments from your salary over the course of the year, as is the norm.

If your income is less than the tax-free threshold and you had no tax payments withheld from your income by your employer, then you typically won’t have to file a tax return. Instead, you should let the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) know by lodging what’s known as a ‘non-lodgment advice’.

This can swiftly be done by creating a myGov account and linking it to the ATO site (a process we’ll delve into later in this guide). Then, you just have to select ‘non-lodgment advice’ on the ATO site. Alternatively, you can download a PDF of the form and post it by mail. Either way, submitting the non-lodgment advice will ensure the ATO won’t put you down as having missed your tax return.

When does the tax return need to be filed by?

The Australian financial year runs from 1 July to 30 June. After that, you’ll have until 31 October to file your tax return for that year. That’s if you’re filing your tax return yourself. If you’re filing your return through a specially qualified accountant known as a tax agent, you may be eligible for a deadline extension, which can be as far in the future as the following year. However, in order to qualify for this extension you’ll need to have registered as a client of the accountant by 31 October.

It’s a good idea to apply for your tax file number (TFN) well ahead of the tax return deadline. Your TFN is a unique number that identifies you within the Australian tax system, and having one will ensure you’re charged the correct amount in tax. Migrants to Australia with valid work visas can apply for their TFN here. You should receive the TFN within 28 days.

How can the tax return be filed?

As mentioned above, you can file your tax return through a qualified tax agent. If you’d prefer to do it yourself, you can opt for a paper tax return form which can be downloaded here. However, it’s considerably easier to do it through the online myTax tool after July. By this point, the relevant information regarding your income and tax payments should already have been received by the ATO from your employer, and automatically added to your digital tax return form.

To access myTax, you’ll first have to create a myGov account and link it to the ATO. Having a myGov account is generally a good idea, as it lets you access a range of government services online.

  1. Go to the myGov site and select ‘Create a myGov account’. You’ll need to provide a secure email address and an Australian mobile phone number for verification purposes.
  2. Once your myGov account is created, navigate to the ‘Services’ page. You’ll see a list of services, such as Australian JobSearch and Medicare. Select the Australian Taxation Office.
  3. You’ll be asked to provide some personal information, such as your TFN, for verification purposes. As you’re filing your tax return for the first time in Australia, you’ll need to phone the ATO support staff to receive a verification code for this stage of the process.
  4. You’ll now have linked the ATO to your myGov account.

At this point, you’re all set to file your tax return online through myTax on the ATO site. Just select the ‘Prepare’ link to start the process, and then follow the on-screen prompts to:

  • Confirm your contact details.
  • Confirm any income information that’s already been provided to the ATO by your employer, bank and others. You can add in any data that’s outstanding.
  • Claim tax deductions, if you’re able to.

You can save your progress through the tax return at any point. Once you’ve filled all the relevant sections in and are happy, you can simply click ‘Lodge’ to file the return.


As we touched on above, it’s possible to claim tax deductions through the myTax tool. These can be work-related expenses such as:

  • Travel expenses, such as fuel, car hire and ride share costs, hotel bills, and food and drink bills.
  • Occupation-specific clothing, such as protective clothing and uniforms.
  • Tools and equipment, such as computers, chairs, and power tools.

All of these expenses must be directly related to earning your income, and you must have records such as receipts to prove they took place. You cannot claim deductions for expenses which your employer has reimbursed.

You may also potentially claim deductions for other expenses, such as:

  • Gifts and donations to organisations that are designated deductible gift recipients. A list of such organisations can be found here.
  • The cost of paying for a tax agent to manage your tax affairs.
  • Your personal, voluntary contributions to your superannuation (or ‘super’) fund. This is a fund for your retirement which your employer has to pay a percentage of your salary into.

What happens after the tax return is filed?

Any tax return filed online will usually be processed within two weeks. Once it’s done, you’ll receive a notice of assessment in your myGov account, or through your tax agent. This will tell you if you need to make a tax payment, or if you’re owed a tax refund due to your employer withholding too much of your income over the last financial year.