I’m going to start this post by sending my heartfelt thanks to the wonderful woman from the Bendigo Bank who went above-and-beyond to help me find deposit information – from an account that was closed a year ago! At the end of this post you’ll find a quick how-to about finding specific names on the statements available via online banking with the Bendigo. But first, I need to explain why my deposit information is so important. It starts with Newstart.
I went on Newstart back in 2013 and found a couple of casual tutoring positions in 2014. Like a good girl, I reported every cent I earned to Centrelink and did all the right things, except for one – apparently I should have lodged a tax return.
I should have lodged a tax return in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 as well.
Why didn’t I lodge tax returns for any of those years?
Because no one told me I had to, and I assumed that my earnings were well below the tax free threshold. As it turned out, they were [and are], but apparently I should have lodged a return anyway…
I rang the ATO, and after a two hour conversation, I learned 7 things:
- People who are on some kind of pension and don’t earn an outside income must lodge a ‘non-lodgement’ form for the relevant years.
- People who are on some kind of pension and do earn an outside income must lodge an actual tax return, no matter how little they earn.
- Individuals and Sole Traders [such as Indie authors and tradies] can lodge a tax return through a tax agent [$$$] or online at the ATO. Those are the only two options. I’ve already complained to the ATO in writing. Nothing will change and pensioners like me will continue to struggle because of the following:
- To lodge a tax return online, you must have the ATO linked to your MyGov account.
- You can link the ATO to your MyGov account via a Bank Account or a Centrelink payment summary but…the Bank Account has to be the same bank account you used the last time you lodged a tax return. For some of us that could be decades ago. As for the Centrelink payment summary, it only seems to work if you haven’t received any outside income – e.g. from casual work.
- The only option that worked for me was to ring up and ask for a linking code. Frankly, that was the only easy part of the entire two hour conversation.
- If your tax return is at all out of the ordinary – e.g. if you’re on an age pension and run a small business as a Sole Trader – and you can’t afford a tax agent – you’ll be told to go to Tax Help. Tax Help is basically a group of volunteers who can help you fill out the online forms. Maybe. Given that a paid employee of the ATO couldn’t help me, I can’t help feeling just a tiny bit sceptical.
Before I do anything else, however, I need to go back and find out how much I earned above and beyond the Newstart allowance for the years 2014 – 2019. This year is fine, but the information from the previous years must have been thrown out when I did one of my rare ‘clean ups’. That left me with 3 casual employers to worry about.
This is where the Bendigo Bank rode into my life on a white charger. As I was pulling my hair and wondering what to do, I remembered that all of my casual pay would have been paid into a bank account. Eureka! All I needed to do was go back through all that old information and I’d find how much I’d earned.
I was right, except for one thing. I’d nominated an unused ‘cheque account’ for my pay. When I reached retirement age last year, I decided to get rid of the cheque account as I never used it. Another disastrous clean out.
This led to my final phone call of the day – to the Bendigo Bank. The lady I spoke to was so nice, so understanding, so bloody patient she deserves a medal. She found the cancelled account and went through it, transaction by transaction, looking for the three employers I’d named. And she found them.
There are literally no words to describe my relief. Now I can give the ATO the exact information they need so I can avoid any possibility of becoming a ‘Robodebt’ victim. Anyone living in Australia knows the horror stories circulating about Robodebt victims. I was honestly terrified that I’d end up as one of them. And I owe it all to one, nice lady at the Bendigo Bank. So here’s that quick how-to I mentioned:
How to search online statements via the Bendigo Bank.
For starters, login to your Bendigo Bank account and click on the account you want to check.
Next, at the top of the account transactions you’ll see four options. The one on the far right is ‘Statements’.
Click Statements and specify the year or time period you’re interested in [card accounts allow you to go back for many years, easy saver accounts only go back 2 years].
Open the statement of your choice. It’ll open as a PDF document. To save yourself a lot of time and eye-strain, hover the mouse over www.bendigobank.com.au as shown below:
Now, press Ctrl f on your keyboard.
This will cause a ‘Find on page’ box to display at the top of the screen. Start typing the name of the company or person you’re looking for.
If it’s found, the statement will automatically move to the appropriate page and the item will be shown with a small highlight. If it’s not found, you’ll see a message to that effect next to the search box.
I hope you never have to go back over years of transactions, but if you do, this neat trick will make it a lot less painful.
Okay, my brain hurts. I’m going to go do something mindless now.