Our website and app have simplified tax time, says ATO

Our website and app have simplified tax time, says ATO

The Australian Taxation Office is encouraging people to file their tax returns online, claiming the process is easier and faster than ever before.

ATO tax commissioner Chris Jordan said that it generally takes half an hour for people to lodge their return through the myTax platform.

“We have developed a suite of online services that have made it easier than ever before to get your tax return done, and now we have most pre-fill records such as wages, bank interest and dividends ready for taxpayers and agents to use,” he said.

“This means most of the work is done for you. Your information can be accessed via myTax or can be uploaded by your agent. All you need to do is review the pre-filled information and add any deductions, it’s that easy.”

More Australians filing returns online

Mr Jordan said that 2017 was likely to be a record year for lodgment numbers.

“We’ve received almost five million returns already this year, which is an increase of 360,000 on this time last year,” he said.

“Almost two million Australians have completed their returns themselves using myTax, up 13 per cent from last year.

“So whether you lodge your own return or use an agent, the numbers show that it’s easier and faster than ever before to get your tax done – which also means getting your refund back even faster.”

Mr Jordan said the ATO had already issued 3.6 million refunds worth a total of almost $8.5 billion.

More than 96 per cent received their refunds within 12 days, he added.

App makes it easier to claim deductions

The ATO has developed an app that makes it easy for people to manage their tax and superannuation affairs on the go, according to Mr Jordan.

“One of the best features of the app is our myDeductions tool which allows you to take a photo of receipts using your smartphone, and store them in one convenient spot,” he said.

“You can then share your records directly with your agent or upload your deductions directly to your tax return.”

Mr Jordan said the app means people don’t have to miss out on deductions because of faded or lost receipts.

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Learn more about savings accounts

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While personal loans and medium amount loans don’t offer guaranteed approval, there are steps you can take to help increase the likelihood of your application being approved, including:

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A savings account is a type of bank account in which you earn interest on the money you deposit. This makes it one of the easiest and safest investment tools.

Can I overdraft my savings account?

A lot of savings accounts won’t let you overdraw. Some will allow this feature but you’ll need to apply first. It’s best to read the fine print and check with your lender whether this is a feature they offer. It can be a helpful addition, but as your lender can charge you a fee as well as interest for going into negative numbers, it’s best to avoid overdrafting when possible.

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Some banks and financial institutions allow parents to open a bank account for their child as soon as it is born, and start depositing funds to go towards the child’s future.

Children’s savings accounts generally don’t have fees, and are structured to help develop positive financial habits by limiting withdrawals, encouraging regular deposits, and earning interest on the savings, similarly to standard savings accounts.

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Savings accounts make you money by earning interest on your savings. The more money you deposit, the longer you leave it in the account, and the higher the account’s interest rate, the more interest you’ll be paid by the bank or financial institution, and the more your wealth will grow.

To make sure your savings account makes money and doesn’t lose money, it’s important to maintain a large enough minimum balance that the annual interest earned exceeds any annual fees charged on the account.

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Online-only savings accounts are often less expensive than other savings accounts, though they may not offer the same flexibility, features, or face-to-face service as more traditional savings accounts.

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As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to know who currently has the highest interest rate is to use a savings account comparison tool.

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The type of interest savings accounts accrues is called compound interest. Compound interest is interest paid on the initial deposit amount, as well as the accumulated interest on money you have. This is different from simple interest where interest is paid at the end of a specified term. Compound interest allows you to earn interest on interest at a higher frequency. 

Example: John deposits $10,000 into a savings account with an interest rate of 5 per cent that he leaves untouched for 10 years. At the end of the first year he will have $10,512 in savings. After ten years, he will have saved $16,470.

Can you direct deposit to a savings account?

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Opening a savings account is a relatively simple process. If you’ve found an account with a suitable interest rate, you’ll just need to get in contact with your chosen lender via a branch, phone call or hop online to begin the process. 

You may be required to provide:

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A good rule of thumb when working out a minimum balance for your savings account is to make sure that you’ll earn more in annual interest on your savings than what you’ll be charged in annual fees.

If you’re saving with a specific goal in mind, prepare a budget so the interest you earn on your deposits will help you efficiently reach this goal. Online financial calculators may be helpful here.

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As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to look at interest rates on savings accounts is to use a savings accounts comparison tool. When you look at the savings rate check what the maximum and minimum rates are. Often banks will offer you a promotional rate for the first few months which is competitive, but then revert back to a base rate which can sometimes be less than inflation. Ongoing bonus rates are often a safer bet as they will keep rewarding you with the maximum rate, provided you meet their criteria