How to complete your Australian tax return

Your tax return doesn't need to be stressful. With this guide, you can meet your legal obligations and possibly get a refund.

3 July 2024

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Now that the financial year in Australia has ended, it’s time to start thinking about your tax return. This guide will explain who needs to lodge a tax return and how to complete it.  

Do I need to lodge a tax return?  

If you’ve earned money in Australia, you will most likely need to lodge a tax return. This includes all kinds of work – part-time, full-time and casual.  

The tax-free threshold is currently set at $18,200. This means that you don’t pay any income tax on earning up to $18,200 or less in a financial year (1 July – 30 June). You need to lodge a tax return if:  

  • you had any tax taken out of your pay 
  • you want to claim any tax deductions. 

When you may not need to lodge a tax return 

  • If you didn't earn any income. 
  • If your total income is below the tax-free threshold and no tax was withheld by your employer.  
  • If all your income is exempt from tax (for example, some scholarships) you may not need to lodge a tax return. 

What if I’m here for less than 6 months? 

If you are studying in Australia for less than 6 months, you will probably be considered a non-resident for Australian tax purposes.  

  • You will still need to lodge a tax return declaring any Australian income you earned.  
  • You won't be entitled to the tax-free threshold. This means, you will pay tax at a higher rate than non-residents.  

Find out if you are considered a non-resident here.  

When and how to lodge your tax return 

The Australian financial year runs from 1 July to 30 June. You need to lodge your tax return between 30 June – 31 October. It’s important to lodge your tax return on time. If you don’t, the ATO may apply a penalty.

Here are some steps to get you started:  

  1. Gather your documents: You’ll need your PAYG payment summary, which is usually found in your myGov account after 1 July. If not, ask your employer. You will also need receipts for any work-related expenses. (See below to find out what types of expenses you can claim.) 
  2. Use myTax: Lodge your tax return online using the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) myTax system. You will need to access myTax through your myGov account.  
  3. Complete your return: Follow the prompts to enter your income, deductions and other relevant information. 
  4. Submit your return: Once you have completed the details you can submit it online. You will receive a Notice of Assessment from the ATO which will tell you if you owe any tax or if you will get a refund.  


You can see an accountant or tax agent to complete your tax return for you. However, there will be a fee for this. 

Submitting a Non-Lodgment Advice 

If you do not need to lodge a tax return, you should still inform the ATO by submitting a Non-Lodgment Advice. This lets the ATO know that you won't be lodging a return for the financial year, and it prevents any unnecessary follow-up from them.  

Example scenarios: 

  • Part-time worker: You worked part-time and earned $15,000 during the financial year. Your employer withheld $500 in tax. Even though your income is below the tax-free threshold, you need to lodge a tax return to claim back the $500.  
  • No income: You were a full-time student without any income. You do not need to lodge a tax return but should submit a Non-Lodgment Advice. 

Claiming expenses  

As a student you might be eligible for various tax deductions. Tax deductions reduce the amount of earnings that you need to pay tax on.

If you have spent money on things directly related to your job such as uniforms or equipment you may be able to claim these as deductions.  

What to do when you leave Australia  

If you're leaving Australia permanently:  


If you’re unsure about any part of the process, there are resources available to help you:  

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