As overseas travel became more common in the 1960s, the ATO stopped issuing tax clearance certificates (which had previously reminded Australians planning on travel that they must ensure they had paid all tax owed prior to leaving the country).
What is a tax return?
A tax return is the document used to inform the ATO how much income you earned and any tax deductions or tax offsets you are claiming for the financial year. In Australia the financial year starts on 1 July and runs until 30 June the following year.
There are various reasons why an individual may need to lodge an income tax return, depending on their personal circumstances. Generally, an Australian resident will have to lodge a tax return if they earned more than $18,200 throughout the financial year. However, individuals who have had tax deducted from their earnings need to lodge a tax return to obtain a tax refund even where they earned less than $18,200.
Your employers will issue you a payment summary after the end of the financial year. It shows how much you earned and how much tax was deducted from your income. If you are self-employed, you need to keep records of your income and any tax instalments you paid.
You have from 1 July to 31 October each year to lodge your tax return. By arranging to use a registered tax agent before 31 October, you can lodge after this date. If you cannot lodge your tax return by 31 October or by your tax agent's lodgment date, contact the ATO as soon as possible to find out if you can lodge at a later date.
If you don't lodge your tax return by the due date, you may incur penalties and interest.