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Tax return 2023-24 – How to make sense of tax time

Figure out how to do your taxes this financial year, and learn everything that's changing July 1. Spoiler – it's a lot, and you're the winner!

If you work or if you earn any sort of income through investments, you're required to lodge a tax return with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) each year. Sounds like a yawn, but it's actually a pretty simple and straightforward process – and you might end up with a refund.

The financial year runs from July 1 through to June 30, which means your tax return needs to be lodged after July 1 each year. In 2024, July 1 brings with it plenty of changes, most of which will benefit you. So here's a run-through on how to lodge your tax, what's changing, and how to boost your chances of a healthy tax refund.

Latest tax news

All the changes from 1 July, 2024

These are not just related to your income tax – we're also sharing changes that could change your income:

  • Stage 3 tax cuts: The Australian government has announced changes to the proposed stage 3 cuts, planned to come into effect from July 1 this year.
    • The lowest tax rate (for people earning $45,000 or less) will fall from 19% to 16%.
    • The 32.5% tax rate will fall to 30% as previously planned, but will now cut off at $135,000.
    • Anyone earning over $135,000 will be taxed at 37% (this bracket currently starts at $120,000).
    • The top tax bracket of 45% will now kick in at $190,000 (instead of $200,000).
  • Minimum wage: Australia's minimum wage and award wages will increase by 3.75% from July 1, according to the Fair Work Commission.
    • The decision will see the national minimum wage increase from $23.23 per hour to $24.10 per hour.
    • This equals $882.80 per week to $915.91 per week, based on a full-time, 38-hour working week.
  • Paid Parental Leave: The government's Paid Parental Leave is changing. Right now, eligible parents can access up to 100 days of paid leave, or 20 weeks based on a 5 day work week.
    • From 1 July 2024, you'll be eligible for 110 days, or 22 weeks based on a 5 day work week. This increases to 120 days (24 weeks) in July 2025, and 130 days (26 weeks) in July 2026.
    • The rate of paid parental leave will increase in line with minimum wage to $915.91 per week.
  • Superannuation: The Super Guarantee is increasing to 11.5% on 1 July. It will then increase by a further 0.5% on 1 July 2025 to 12%.
    • The before-tax contribution cap in 2024-25 is $30,000, which is up from $27,500 in 2023-24.
    • The after-tax contribution cap in 2024-25 is $120,000, which is up from $110,000 in 2023-24.

Finder survey: How many Australians think they pay too much tax?

Response
Yes63.75%
No36.25%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1004 Australians, December 2023

Now: what is a tax return?

If you've earned any money in Australia throughout the financial year (1 July to 30 June) you need to declare this at tax time. If you've paid too much tax throughout the year you'll get some back in the form of a return. Or, if you haven't paid enough tax you'll need to pay more. Your tax return is also a chance to declare work-related expenses as deductions, to boost your return.

If you're after a bit of help with your tax return, an Australian tax agent can help you correctly lodge your tax return.

How to lodge your tax return:

  • Step 1. Decide which way to lodge - online yourself or with a tax agent. Online through the ATO is free and simple; you just need records of your deductible expenses. If you use a tax agent they can manage the process for you and help you claim for items you may not have realised you could claim.
  • Step 2. Either way: You'll need to gather the info and documents you need to support your claims. Receipts, invoices, bank statements: these will all help you verify your claims, if you ever get audited.
  • Step 3. Set aside a couple of hours to lodge your tax return via the ATO's online portal, inside MyGov. Often, information like your income and any bank interest you've earned is already listed, if you give your MyGov account permission to collect data from your employer and the bank. If you don't want to dive into it yourself, you can hand all your docs over to your tax agent to do it for you.
  • Step 4. Lodge your return with the ATO. The earliest you can do this is around mid-July, as the government gives banks and employers a couple of weeks to get all of their information filed and up to date before you lodge.

For a more detailed overview on each of these steps, read our longer guide on how to complete your tax return.

Should you do your tax return yourself, or get professional support?

You can complete your tax return yourself online for free using the ATO's tool myTax, or you can seek support from a registered tax agent. Both options have advantages and disadvantages.

The benefits of using a registered tax agent to do your tax return

A tax agent will ensure you've lodged your return correctly, and they can help maximise your refund by claiming more deductions that you're eligible for.

Choosing the right tax agent

In this guide you can compare a range of online tax agents that each offer a different level of support, from just a little bit of help all the way to a full-service tax agent.

Read this guide

Claiming tax deductions to maximise your tax refund

Claiming tax deductions for work-related expenses you've paid throughout the year can help reduce your taxable income and get you a bigger tax return. But it's important to claim only what you're legally entitled to.

Guide to claiming tax deductions

This guide outlines how tax deductions work, and lists a huge number of deductions that you could be eligible to claim when lodging your tax return. It also includes the tax dedications you're eligible to claim without receipts.

Read this guide

Tax return deadlines you need to be aware of

You need to make sure you've successfully lodged you tax return ahead of the deadline set by the ATO each financial year, or you risk getting a penalty. There are different deadlines you need to be aware of depending on how you choose to lodge your tax return.

DISCLAIMER: Many of the comments in this article are general in nature and anyone intending to apply the information to practical circumstances should seek professional advice to independently verify their interpretation and the information applicability to their own particular circumstances.

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Head of editorial

As an authority on all things personal finance, Sarah Megginson is passionate about helping you save money and make money. She is an editor and money expert with 20 years’ experience and an extensive background in property and finance journalism. Sarah holds ASIC RG146-compliant Tier 1 Generic Knowledge certification, and she's a regular media commentator, appearing weekly on TV (Sunrise, Channel 7 news, Nine news), radio (KIIS FM, Triple M, 3AW, 2GB, 6PR) and in digital and print media. See full bio

Sarah's expertise
Sarah has written 183 Finder guides across topics including:
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18 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    NoushinFebruary 27, 2023

    Hi
    how can I find a Tax agent through your website ? Let’s say Fin tax Group. It does not let me the option of choosing the agent

      AvatarFinder
      AlisonFebruary 27, 2023Finder

      Hi,
      You can use our site to compare some different tax agents and when you’ve found one you’d like more information on you can visit their site directly. We don’t currently link directly to their sites.
      Thanks,
      Alison

    Default Gravatar
    PhillyJanuary 9, 2019

    I have a friend who has just sold their family home in China. They will move here permanently soon. What is the best way to transfer the sale money to Australia? Is it taxable? If they send in multiple amounts less than $10,000 is that OK?

    Thank you.

      AvatarFinder
      JeniJanuary 12, 2019Finder

      Hi Philly,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      According to our review on tax implications on large money transfers, if someone is planning to send a large sum of money to you in Australia, you could be on the hook for taxes regulated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), depending on the reason why they are sending it to you.

      You may also refer to our guide on how your friend from China can open a bank account in Australia.

      I hope this helps.

      Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any other enquiries.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

    Default Gravatar
    SharonSeptember 13, 2017

    My previous employer sold the business I work for early this year, he never sent me a group certificate and I cant phone him to get one sent. How do I lodge with out that group certificate? Any help would be appreciated.

      Default Gravatar
      JonathanSeptember 13, 2017

      Hello Sharon,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      You may consider checking the pre-filing service in myTax if your employer is unable to give you a group certificate. There are ways on how to get it without your employer, usually a statutory declaration is no longer required.

      • Ask your tax agent to check our pre-filling service through their Tax Agent Portal, OR
      • Reviewing your payslips, time-sheets, and bank statements.

      Alternatively, you can review ATO page regarding details about obtaining payment summary information, which includes a gross pay estimator to help you reconstruct.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

    Default Gravatar
    DenisJuly 11, 2017

    Last year [2015-16] I downloaded an ATO app. Filled it out with my Income/Expenses (tax relevant) and then lodged it online. Question – Can I do the same this year?

      Default Gravatar
      LiezlJuly 11, 2017

      Hi Denis,

      Yes, you can lodge your tax return the same way. Please make sure to lodge your tax return by the 31 October deadline to avoid penalties. If you are completing your own tax return and are unable to lodge by 31 October, kindly contact ATO as soon as possible.

      Cheers,
      Liezl

    Default Gravatar
    AnonymousMay 29, 2017

    Is it possible to do my return now.I haven’t earnt any money this financial year. My only income has been centrelinks newstart .I am owed $2146 from tax i paid from a super claim.as my circumstances will not change and it was only one day that stopped me claiming last year .I wonder if i could do it now as I’m in a desperate situation.i have a car which doesn’t go and am going to living in it unless I can find a way to pay overdue rent.I have serious back issues that will get worse if this happens .thank for you time.Christine

      AvatarFinder
      MayJune 1, 2017Finder

      Hi Christine,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      If you want to find out if you can lodge a return for 2015-16, you’d need to read ATO’s lodge a tax return guide. If you can lodge, then there are instructions from the Department of Human Services that you can follow on how you can lodge your tax return.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      May

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