They say that only two things are certain in life: death and taxes. You’ll die and you’ll pay some tax along the way, but the rest is up to you. Death probably isn’t worth thinking about just yet (you’re in your prime remember), but taxes are something you’ll have to get your head round sooner or later. You may as well start here and now.

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The financial year ended on June 30, meaning that if you have a job and you want to do your own tax, you’ve got to figure out how to lodge a tax return by October 31. You could employ an accountant to do your tax for you, but they’ll probably charge you a fair bit and it would be wiser to keep that money for fun. Along with voting, reading books and cleaning the kitchen, this is proper adult stuff but it’s really not that difficult. Here’s some info that should help you with taxes…

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How do I lodge my first tax return?

 It’s pretty simple and these days you can do it all online through myTax. Firstly, you’ll need to get a tax file number (TFN), which you can apply for at your local post office or online (don’t worry, it’s free). Second, you need to get a myGov account and then verify it by calling 13 28 61. After that you can log in and follow the prompts for declaring your income.

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How much tax will I have to pay?

It depends how much of a baller you are. In Australia we pay tax on a sliding scale, meaning if you didn’t earn very much money, you won’t have to much much tax. In fact, if you earn less than $18,200 per year, you don’t pay any tax at all. If you earn between $18,200 and $37,000, you pay 19c out of each dollar you earn over $18,200. This means when you earn $1 you only get to keep 81 cents of it, which doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up and increases exponentially. The more you earn, the more tax you pay. Here’s the official scale:

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(Source: ATO)

What can I claim as a tax deduction?

There are certain things that you may need for work, such as your uniform (including shoes), tools and equipment, union fees or protective items such as sunscreen and sunglasses. If you bought some of these items, or others for work, you can claim them as tax deductions. A “tax deduction” is when the cost of things you’ve bought is considered part of the tax you’ve already paid. Check here for a list of things you can claim and here for what you can’t. If you’re under the threshold you don’t pay tax anyway, so tax deductions are pretty pointless.

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Will I get money back by doing my tax?

Just to be safe, your employer deducts your tax from your income each time you get paid. The amount that is deducted is based on how much money you could potentially earn in the year (this is why some weeks you get taxed more than others). But if you earn less than the amount projected, it’s likely that you’ll get some money back. And if you only work part time while at school or studying, you probably earned less than $18,200 over the course of the year, which means you’ll get ALL your tax back. That’s gonna feel pretty good.

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Why bother?

People bitch about taxes a lot. Not just about the hassle of lodging a return, but about paying tax in general. The thing to remember is that taxes pay for all the essential services that the government provides, things that we use and enjoy on a daily basis, such as schools, hospitals, police, roads, parks and so many other things. It’s true that sometimes the government spends money on things we don’t like but that’s just another reason to really consider who to vote for on July 2 – whoever wins the election will get to decide how to spend all your tax money. Hopefully they spend it on the important stuff…

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