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Free tax help is just around the corner

IF YOU need help to complete your annual tax return, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has a free, face-to-face service, available in 600 locations across Australia.

With the help of trained volunteers, the process of lodging your return or an amendment, and claiming a refund of franking credits, can be done through the ATO's myTax online lodgement process.

The service is available if your income is around $60,000 or less for the income year, and you did not -

  • Work as a contractor, for example a contract cleaner or taxi driver.
  • Run a business, including as a sole trader.
  • Have partnership or trust matters.
  • Sell shares or an investment property.
  • Own a rental property.
  • Have capital gains tax (CGT).
  • Receive royalties.
  • Receive distributions from a trust, other than a managed fund.
  • Receive foreign income, other than a foreign pension or annuity.

Volunteers are available from mid-July through to October.

They won't offer you tax advice, but they will help you navigate the online lodgement system including setting up your myGov account.

The first step is to call 132 861. You will then be matched with the nearest available community centre designated as a Tax Help Centre.

For more information, go to the ATO.

Volunteers needed

ATO assistant commissioner Kathryn Anderson said the ATO is looking for more Tax Help volunteers. They are recruited each year during March and April, but for anyone interested in volunteering, they can start the process now for next year's intake.

"We have people from a variety of backgrounds including bookkeepers and accountants," Ms Anderson said. "The technology is easy to use. You just need to not be scared of operating a computer.

"The volunteers help remove the mystique around doing your own tax return and you to get to talk to a real person, face-to-face."

All volunteers go through an online and in-person training program, and security clearance process. Any reasonable out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel and phone calls, are reimbursed.

For more information on volunteering, go to the ATO volunteering page. To apply as a volunteer, email SBITtaxhelp@ato.gov.au.

Tax Help centres needed

More Tax Help centres are needed to "house volunteers" Ms Anderson said.

If a community centre or similar type venue is interested in volunteering space in their centre for the ATO recruited volunteers to operate the Tax Help service, they should email the ATO on SBITtaxhelp@ato.gov.au.

Topics:  australian taxation office end of financial year finance money tax help


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