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Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

How to make your tax return a little greener

Girl with laptop in green park

Credit: iStockphoto

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It’s the middle of the year already - where does the time go? Unfortunately this means that it’s tax time soon. I’m determined that this year I’m not going to leave it until the last minute to do my tax returns!

If you’re still looking for ways to reduce your paper use, you can try filing your taxes online this year. I’ve used the Australian Taxation Office’s eTax service several times now, and I think it’s pretty good.

It lets you record your tax details in secure software instead of in one of those paper books they send out. The software submits the details to the ATO, and you usually get your tax return in 14 days.

It takes you through the process with a series of yes/no questions, which makes it very easy to use. Plus the software produces a nice record of the details for you, which you can file away on your computer in case you need it later on.

Another way to green your tax-time is to spend any refund you get on something eco-friendly. If you’ve got just a little return, you could buy yourself a nice reusable water bottle or lunch set, some water-efficient showerheads and tap fittings, or treat yourself to dinner at a restaurant that serves local, organic food.

If you’re lucky enough to get a big tax return, it might be a good time to look at getting your home insulated. That’s what I did with one unexpectedly large tax return one year, and now that it’s freezing cold outside I’m very glad I did.

Or you could look into solar hot water systems, or buying a bike. There are lots of things you could do to green your life if you get a little windfall from the taxman - what are your suggestions?