As a sole trader, tax returns can be a headache to complete. That’s because you need to:
In this article we’ll be covering:
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You’re an Australian freelancer or sole trader, so your business revenue goes on the same Individual Tax Return you already use every year. It just goes in a different section called the “Supplementary Section”.
There are several ways to lodge a tax return:
In this guide, we’ll show you how to lodge your tax return via the MYGOV account.
Before you log in to your MYGOV account, you need a few key business numbers:
Hopefully, you’ve got all your invoices and receipts together in one place. If not, gather, organise, and calculate your invoices and business expense receipts.
Note: Learn how Parpera can help you organise your invoices and receipts
This is not financial advice – we recommend talking to an accountant if you need personalised advice.
Watch the ATO’s official video walkthrough of how to complete your tax return as a sole trader online:
After lodging your income tax return online, you should receive your notice of assessment in 2 weeks.
If you’ve earned more than $18,200 (the tax-free threshold for the year 2022 - 2023), then you will owe taxes, and the ATO will give you an estimate of how much. Make sure you’ve got enough money set aside to pay income tax – you can use the PAYG instalments calculator to figure out how much you’ll owe every quarter.
The due date to lodge your tax return is the 31st of October.
Once you lodge your first tax return and if it’s above the tax-free threshold, you will automatically enter the Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) system (or you can request to enter it here). With this system, you will be required to pay tax every 3 months. Learn more about getting started with PAYG.
The ATO will send you an email with instructions on how to pay tax. Usually, you can pay via debit card, credit card or BPAY® and will have 28 days to pay after the end of the quarter.
Note: with Parpera you’ll be able to automatically set aside money for taxes.
It depends on you and how complex your return is. If you hate managing accounts and doing admin, and have several income streams then it might make sense to work with an accountant. If you have big expensive equipment, land, buildings, employees, or investments, an accountant will also help make sure you haven’t missed anything.
If you’ve been tracking your income diligently and have reasonably straightforward accounts, then you might be better off doing it yourself.
Using accounting software specifically for sole traders is a good way of making sure you’re on top of your income and expenses. We’ve put together a breakdown comparing the top accounting software solutions in Australia specifically for sole traders here: Top Sole Trader Accounting Software Options.
Sole trader income is taxed at the same rates as someone with a job. Technically, if your taxable income is below $18,200, you won’t pay any tax. But as a sole trader, you need to declare any money you earn.
You only need to register for GST when your business makes more than $75,000 in a year. As soon as you’ve passed that threshold, your next invoice needs to include GST (and you need to register for it too). Get more details about GST and how to add it to your invoices here.
You’ll automatically receive your BAS when you register your Australian Business Number (ABN) or GST. For a small sole trader, a BAS is the quarterly tax form you complete to declare any GST you’ve collected from your clients or paid to merchants for business purchases, and it’ll also help you pay your PAYG instalments.
Learn more about BAS from the ATO website.
As a sole trader, completing your tax return shouldn’t take too much time if you’re already organised and prepared. Your tax return is mostly getting all your documents together, sorting them, and adding them all up correctly.
A sole trader accounting app or money management app like Parpera can do most of the heavy lifting for you. You’ll be ready to log into MYTAX and fill in all your details in under 30 minutes.
Here are a few ways Parpera can help you complete your tax return:
At tax time, it’s important to get your business revenue right. You need accurate numbers, and cash flow correctly calculated and backed up by your client invoices.
If you’ve mixed personal and business expenses, it’ll be a lot harder to figure out what was a business expense and what wasn’t. With a separate business account, it’s very easy to track it all.
With Parpera, your membership includes a business account, so you always have up-to-date revenue and expense numbers by month, quarter, and year. You can download business account statements anytime and finding last year’s business income only takes a few seconds in-app.
One of the trickiest parts of managing taxes as a sole trader is estimating how much you need to save every month for taxes. You don’t want June 30th to come around and realise that you spent the money that you were supposed to save for taxes.
With Parpera, you’ll be able to set up a sub-account called Tax Saver, where you can set aside your money for taxes. At first, you’ll need to manually set aside your taxes, but afterwards it will be automatic based on the percentage tax rate that we think you’ll have to pay.
You’ll also have access to a tax estimate tool: you can give Parpera your best estimate of your business revenue that year, and it’ll calculate a blended tax rate and therefore how much to set aside when you receive a payment. Parpera will adjust the estimate as you include tax-deductible expenses within the App (and you can always edit it if it’s a bit off).
How much income tax should you set aside when you first do it manually?
Start with a yearly tax estimate based on your current business revenue. Then, divide it by 12 and set aside that amount every month. Even if things change dramatically later on, you can always adjust it manually.
You’ll also be able to set aside money for GST (and soon, this will be automatic!).
You’re legally required to keep copies of all your invoices. With Parpera’s in-app invoicing, you can easily create, send and store invoices. You’ll never accidentally lose them or worry about storing them ever again. You can:
Note: for more in-depth information on tax deductible expenses as a sole trader, read the following article: Sole Trader Tax Deductions (How to Optimise your Taxes in 2023)
Instead of adding up all your expense receipts by hand, you can tag any purchases you make as tax-deductible in seconds with Parpera.
Once you’ve categorised a purchase, Parpera will remember it if you buy it again from the same merchant, saving you valuable time.
Flagging as tax deductible is as easy as clicking a button!
Not sure which expenses you can deduct? Software subscriptions, work tools, and most anything you use to help customers or run your business are solid deductions.
Graphic designers can deduct their Adobe subscription while tradies could mark their protective work clothing as tax-deductible. Read this short and simple explanation on tax-deductible business expenses.
You won’t be allowed to use a business purchase as a tax-deductible expense if you can’t find the business receipt. With Parpera, you’ll have a record of every purchase you make in your business account or with your business debit card.
You can also upload and store every paper or electronic receipt into Parpera right on the transaction. They’ll stay there forever, so you can forget about using paper receipts and storage files.
When it’s time to lodge taxes, your monthly, quarterly, or yearly expenses are ready to go, accurate, and backed up with your receipts. In a few minutes, you’re ready to do your tax return and you’re rock-solid confident in your figures.
Preparing and lodging your BAS every quarter as a sole trader can be a pain.
With Parpera, once you’ve categorised your transactions and know what tax you’re due, you can also prepare your BAS directly from the App. You’ll also get some simple instructions to help you lodge your BAS via the myGov website. If you’d prefer for someone to do it for you, you can ask a registered BAS Agent, or subscribe to our Automate membership plan, and we’ll sort it out for you.
Once you start setting aside money every month for taxes, you’ll see a decent pot of money accumulate in your account. How could you make the most of that money?
Soon, you’ll be able to earn interest in your tax savings pot in Parpera. That way, the money you’re setting aside for taxes is also working for you!
Parpera is designed for sole traders like you who detest admin and need help understanding best practices and legal requirements. Here are a few more ways we can make tax time quick and pain-free:
We know you’re busy and anxious to complete a self-employed tax return quickly, easily and accurately, so you can focus on your business and not admin.
We hope this guide is helpful and you feel a bit more confident about completing your tax return come the end of June. If you’re looking for a way to keep your sole trader admin organised, easy to manage and track, then you’re welcome to try out Parpera for free for 30 days. Don’t like it? Cancelling is as easy as clicking a button on the settings menu – no questions asked.