Tax Time 2016 has officially begun and the ATO wants to make sure that lodging is the easiest it has ever been for all Australians.
Assistant Commissioner Graham Whyte said over the past few years the ATO has had a focus on continually expanding and improving its online services and that 2016 was no different.
“We are lucky in Australia that when it comes to tax, the vast majority of people want to do the right thing. We also know that the easier we make it for people to lodge their tax return, and manage their affairs, the more likely they are to get it right the first time,” Mr Whyte said.
“We are constantly working to provide modern products and services that fit into the way Australians live their everyday lives.”
Mr Whyte said this year one of the biggest changes for people who prepare their own tax return is the complete replacement of the ATO legacy online lodgment tool e-tax with myTax.
“MyTax has been expanded to do everything that e-tax could and more. It is the quick, easy, and secure way to lodge, and lets you do your tax on your computer, smartphone or tablet. Over 500,000 people have already used myTax this tax time.
“My big tip to people planning to use myTax is to hold off until August. By this time, we will have received most the data we need from employers, banks, government agencies and other third parties to pre-fill tax returns. For many people, this means all they have to do is double-check the information we have pre-loaded for them, enter any deductions they have and then hit submit,” Mr Whyte said.
Ninety-six per cent of people who make mistakes when declaring their income lodge before their pre-fill information is available.
Mr Whyte said this year, for the first time ever, the ATO will be able to check people’s deductions in real-time as they complete their online return using myTax.
“We want people to claim what they are entitled to – no more, no less. If your claims are substantially higher than others in similar occupations, earning similar amounts of income, a message will appear, asking you to check them.”
You can access myTax through the ATO app or your myGov account. Even if you are planning to lodge using a tax agent, you may want to consider creating a myGov account and linking to ATO online services. Once you have an account you can register your voiceprint in the ATO app to log on securely.
“In addition to lodging your tax return, you can view and manage a range of personal financial information using our online services available via myGov. Other features include viewing, lodging and revising activity statements, finding and managing your super and viewing your study and training support loan account balances and transactions,” Mr Whyte said.
“Once you have a myGov account linked to the ATO, we will also send a lot of your correspondence to your myGov inbox. myGov will send you an SMS or email to tell you that there is mail there. It’s important that you make sure you check it.
“Most ATO online tools and services are for everyone, not just those who are preparing their own tax return.
“Another tool we have available via the ATO app is myDeductions, which allows you to snap, save and store your individual income tax deductions all in one place. It is a great way to keep track of your expenses without having to worry about lost and faded receipts.
“Whether you lodge yourself or with a tax agent, at the end of the financial year simply upload the completed deductions from your device to the ATO and we will pre-fill your income tax return.”
Mr Whyte said so far this tax time over 15,000 people have uploaded their deductions claims from the myDeductions tool.
Mr Whyte said another first this year was the introduction of the ATO’s virtual assistant, Alex.
“If you have questions about your tax return, you can avoid the phone queues and find answers to your general tax enquiries with Alex, our virtual assistant.
“Over time, Alex be able to answer more questions, and with every enquiry will continue to improve and tailor responses to provide you with a more personalised experience.”
You can Ask Alex or lodge online by going to www.ato.gov.au