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Last updated 15 August 2016


As set out in the individual tax return instructions, there are a number of reasons you may have to lodge a tax return. If you satisfy any of the following reasons, you have to lodge a return.

Reason 1

During the previous financial year, you were an Australian resident and you paid tax under the pay as you go (PAYG) withholding or instalment system or you had tax withheld from payments made to you.

Reason 2

You were eligible for the seniors and pensioners tax offset and your rebate income (not including your spouse’s) was more than:

  • $32 279 if you were single, widowed or separated at any time during the year
  • $31 279 if you had a spouse but one of you lived in a nursing home or you had to live apart due to illness
  • $28 974 if you lived with your spouse for the full year.

Reason 3

You were not eligible for the senior Australians tax offset, but you received a payment and other taxable payments which when added together made your taxable income more than $20 542.

Reason 4

You were not eligible for the seniors and pensioners Australians tax offset and you did not receive a payment listed at question 5 or 6 of the return instructions 2015 (which list many social security payments), but your taxable income exceeded:

  • $18 200 if you were an Australian resident for tax purposes for the full year
  • $416 if you were under 18 years old at 30 June 2015 and your income was not salary or wages
  • $1 if you were a non-resident and you had income taxable in Australia that did not have non-resident withholding tax withheld from it
  • your part-year tax-free threshold amount if you became or stopped being an Australian resident for tax purposes.

Other reasons

You must lodge a tax return if any of the following applied to you:

  • You had a reportable fringe benefits amount on your PAYG payment summary, either an individual non-business or foreign employment.
  • You had reportable employer superannuation contributions on your PAYG payment summary.
  • You were entitled to the private health insurance tax offset, but you did not claim your correct entitlement as a premium reduction, and your spouse (if any) is not claiming the rebate for you in the spouse’s income tax return.
  • You carried on a business.
  • You made a loss or you can claim a loss you made in a previous year.
  • You were 60 years old or older, and you received an Australian superannuation lump sum that included an untaxed element, or it is a death benefit superannuation lump sum paid to you as a non‑dependant.
  • You were under 60 years old and you received an Australian superannuation lump sum that included a taxed element or an untaxed element.
  • You were entitled to a distribution from a trust or you had an interest in a partnership, and the trust or partnership carried on a business of primary production.
  • You were an Australian resident for tax purposes, and you had exempt foreign employment income and $1 or more of other income.
  • You are a special professional covered by the income averaging provisions. These provisions apply to authors of literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, inventors, performing artists, production associates and active sportspeople.
  • You received income from dividends or distributions exceeding $18 200 (or $416 if you were under 18 years old on 30 June 2015), and you had franking credits attached or amounts withheld because you did not quote your tax file number or Australian business number to the investment body.
  • You made personal contributions to a complying superannuation fund or retirement savings account and will be eligible to receive a super co-contribution for these contributions.
  • You were a liable parent or a recipient parent under a child support assessment unless you received Australian government allowances, pensions or payments (whether taxable or exempt) for the whole of the period 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015 and the total of all the following payments was less than $23 610:
    • taxable income
    • exempt Australian government allowances, pensions and payments
    • target foreign income (see question IT4)
    • reportable fringe benefits
    • net financial investment loss (see question IT5)
    • net rental property loss (see question IT6)
    • reportable superannuation contributions.

The Commissioner of Taxation can demand a return at any time from any person, even if that person does not come within any of the above categories.

Tax exempt groups

The income of religious, scientific, charitable or public educational institutions is exempt from tax, and those bodies normally do not have to file a return. They must comply with any requirements for endorsement by the Australian Taxation Office applicable to that class of charity, and register with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.