THE PAPER TRAIL: Here’s what happens to your tax return after you file it

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July 1 is fast approaching, and the ATO is getting ready to crunch a serious amount of numbers.

But have you ever wondered what is going on behind the scenes at the ATO at tax time, and how they make sure you get the correct reimbursement from your tax return?

Well, we’ve asked the guys at the ATO to break it down for us.

So here is it is, step by step.

1. Eligibility is checked

Once you’ve lodged your tax return, the ATO determines whether you’re entitled to a refund or have to pay a tax debt.

2. Notice of assessment is issued

After the ATO has processed your tax return, it will issue you with a notice of assessment.

This explains whether you’ll receive a tax refund or have to pay the tax office. It is always best to make sure the details of the assessment are correct.

This takes approximately 12 business days if you lodged electronically, or 50 business days if you lodged a paper return.

To make the process even quicker, ensure that you provided valid Australian bank account details so that the refund can be paid directly to your account. If valid account details are not provided your refund cheque will be mailed to you.

If you have a tax debt, when you have to pay it will depend on the date you lodge your tax return, but the earliest you will have to pay it is November 21.

3. Changes can be made

“If you think you made a mistake, you can change your return. If you think we’ve made a mistake, you can contact us or object to your assessment,” the ATO says.

4. The bill needs to be paid

Tax can be paid by BPAY®, credit card, direct credit, direct debit, cheque, in store at Australia Post, or by setting up a payment schedule using the ATO’s automated service.

5. You get to see where you tax goes

A tax receipt provides a breakdown of how your tax has contributed towards government expenditure.

You will receive this with your notice of assessment if your assessed income tax is of $100 or more and you lodge your return within the 18 month period from the end of the 2013-14 FY.

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