There are free services in Katherine to help with tax time

TAX TIME: Australians claim about $23 billion in tax deductions for work-related expenses each year.
TAX TIME: Australians claim about $23 billion in tax deductions for work-related expenses each year.

Tax time is underway and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has opened Tax Help centre in Katherine. 

The Tax Help service will assist low-income earners with simple tax affairs to complete their tax return online with myTax.

Tax Help volunteers provide a free and confidential service for people on low incomes of around $60,000 or less to get their tax right.

“The ATO provides Tax Help as a community service for Australians that may be having trouble lodging their own tax returns because we understand it can be a bit difficult sometimes,” assistant commissioner Kath Anderson said.

“Last year we had over 800 Tax Help volunteers who worked across around 600 Tax Help centres to assist over 33,000 individuals with their tax returns.”

Tax Help volunteers will be available by appointment at Catholic Care NT, Katherine (Corner Giles & First Street, ).

To make an appointment  phone 13 28 61.

Ms Anderson is reminding taxpayers that need help to check if they are eligible.

“The low income threshold has increased to $60,000 this year, so even if you weren’t previously eligible, check to see if you are this year,” Ms Anderson said.  

“Tax Help volunteers can help with lodging and amending tax returns online using myTax, or to claim a refund of franking credits. Volunteers can also help you claim any deductions and offsets you may be entitled to.” 

Ms Anderson also encouraged individuals to try myTax out themselves online before visiting a Tax Help centre.

“Our online lodgment tool myTax is easy and secure, and if you wait until mid-August, most of your information will be pre-filled. In many cases, all you will need to do is check your details and hit submit.”

If you’re eligible for Tax Help, you will need a myGov account linked to the ATO. Our volunteers can help you create your myGov account and link it to the ATO if you haven’t done this already.

Tax Help will be available until October 31 in Katherine.

To find out if you’re eligible for help, visit here.

To create a myGov account before visiting a Tax Help centre, visit here.

Northern Territory Tax Help locations

Tax Help centres are open in the following locations in the Northern Territory this tax time:     

  •  Katherine
  •  Alice Springs
  •  Berrimah
  •  Casuarina
  •  Humpty Doo
  •  Karama
  •  Katherine
  •  Wadeye
  •  Winnellie

Do not rush your return

Assistant commissioner Kath Anderson said 2.8 million people lodged their tax return in July last year, which is 22 per cent of all tax returns lodged for 2015-16.

“We know that some taxpayers like to get in early and lodge in the first month of tax time, but our analysis shows that if you lodge in July, you’re far more likely to make a mistake by leaving out some of your income,” Ms Anderson said.

“By mid-August we have pre-filled most of the data from employers, banks, government agencies and other third parties. Waiting until this information is available will help you avoid mistakes.”

“For many people waiting until August means all they have to do is double-check the information we have pre-filled, enter any deductions and then hit submit.”

Ms Anderson said taxpayers don’t need to get into a rush to lodge their tax returns early.

“It’s great to see taxpayers eager to finalise their returns, but it’s your responsibility to make sure you declare all your income. This includes income from any cash jobs, the sharing economy, your second job, foreign sources, employee share schemes and capital gains from the disposal of shares and property.”

“Our systems are great at finding errors in tax returns, and if we have to investigate something further in your tax return.”

Ms Anderson said people can choose to lodge using the ATO’s online lodgment tool myTax, which is fast, easy and secure, or they can lodge with a registered tax agent.

“If you have been using the myDeductions tool, which is available in the ATO app, to save and store your deductions, you can upload that data as well without the need for physical receipts. Last year over 55,000 people uploaded their deductions to myTax or their tax agent, and 9 out of 10 of them told us they intend to use it again this year.

Top tips to get your tax right

Decide how to lodge by 31 October

You can lodge on your own using myTax or by using a registered tax agent. If you are preparing your own tax return, you can get a head start by making sure you have your myGov login details ready. If you plan to use an agent, you need to be on their lodgment list by October 31. 

Whichever way you choose to lodge, remember you are responsible for the claims you make, so make sure your deductions are legitimate and you have included all your income before you or your agent lodges.

Get your paper work in order

Having to keep, or maybe find, all your records to prepare your tax return can be a hassle

. The ATO app myDeductions tool makes it easier and more convenient to keep records of your expenses and income all in one place. If you’re in a hurry, you can use the app to snap a photo of your receipt and add the details later.

At tax time, you can upload your data into myTax to pre-fill your tax return. If lodging with an agent, you can also email the data directly to them.

Include all of your income

Don’t forget about your second job or money earned from the sharing economy. You must report all income, including pay from second jobs, foreign income, bank interest and any government payments. Lodging before pre-fill is the leading cause of taxpayers incorrectly declaring income. 

Know what you can claim

Remember the three golden rules for claiming a deduction for a work-related expense.

  1. You must have spent the money yourself and not have been reimbursed
  2. It must be directly related to earning your income
  3. You must have a record to prove it

If an expense was for both work and private purposes, you can only claim a deduction for the work-related portion.

Don’t panic if you make a mistake

It’s not the end of the world if you report something incorrectly on your tax return. If you make a mistake or forget to include something, it’s easy to lodge an amendment online.