Once you have logged in you will see the eReturns main menu.
From the main menu you can lodge multiple nil returns, start a new return, continue a return which is partially complete, view historical returns and manage your account details.
Your account details are the details which you reviewed and updated when you logged in for the first time.
eReturns allows you to lodge multiple nil returns at the same time. A candidate or candidate agent should lodge a nil return if the candidate did not receive any donations and did not incur electoral expenditure during the disclosure period. This most commonly occurs when a party endorses a candidate and manages the campaign on their behalf.
To lodge one or more nil returns, click ‘Nil return’ on the main menu.
Step 1: Select candidates
To select a candidate for a nil return, click the check box to the left of that candidate’s name and enter their commencement date in the box to the right of their name.
Note: The commencement date may vary between candidates. Please refer to the text to identify each candidate’s commencement date. The help text provides more information on commencement dates following recent elections, and can be accessed by clicking the ‘?’ button.
To select all candidates in the list, click the check box in the top left corner of the table, underneath ‘Eligible Candidates’.
Once you have identified and listed the commencement date for all the candidates for whom you will lodge a nil return, click the ‘Next’ button. If you have not selected all the listed candidates, the system will ask you to verify your choices.
Step 2: Review
From this screen, you may view the draft returns for each candidate. Click a candidate’s name to view their return. When you are happy with each candidate’s return click the ‘Next’ button.
Step 3: Sign and lodge
The final step to lodging one or more nil returns is to certify that the information is correct and to electronically sign. If you are sure that the information contained within the returns is correct, click the first check box. You will then need to type your name in the following box to act as an electronic signature. Finally, type your password into the final box. This step is to verify that the candidate agent is lodging the returns.
Once you have completed these steps, click the ‘Lodge’ button and the returns will be submitted.
From this screen you may save a PDF copy of any of the returns. The AEC recommends that you save a copy of your return in case you need to print or refer to it at a later date. The unique reference number presented on this screen is also recorded on the return form in the bottom right hand corner. eReturns will also email you a copy of your lodged return by default.
To complete a candidate or Senate group return where the candidate or Senate group received donations or incurred political expenditure use the ‘New Return’ button on the main menu.
Click the ‘New Return’ button to start completing a new return.
You will then need to choose which candidate the return will be for.
Click ‘Continue’ to launch the return wizard. Similar to when you review your account details, you can use the ‘Back’ and ‘Next’ buttons to navigate through the screens.
Step 1: Candidate details
On this screen, you will need to provide details for the candidate you are lodging on behalf of. Candidate name, The Party name, Electorate Contested, and Name of agent fields will be pre-populated with the information from the nomination form for the candidate.
Note: The commencement date may vary between candidates. Please refer to the text to identify each candidate’s commencement date.
Step 2: Donations received
Total donations and number of donors can be recorded directly into this screen.
To record detailed donations click the ‘Add’ button at the bottom of the table on the screen. That will launch the ‘Add a donation received’ window.
In the ‘Add a donation received’ window you can fill in the details of each detailed donation. All required fields must be completed. Once all the information has been entered click the ‘Add’ button to add the receipt to the list. The ‘Add a donation received’ window will remain open to allow you to enter more receipts. Once you have finished entering receipts click the ‘Close’ button to return to the receipts screen.
The import function allows you to upload a spread sheet of transactions into eReturns, eliminating the need to manually enter each transaction. In order to import receipts you will need a spread sheet (either in MSExcel, CSV or XML format) of receipts which contains all of the required information for each receipt. To start importing receipts click the ‘Import’ button.
This will launch the import screen.
From here you can use the browse button to select the spread sheet you wish to upload from your computer.
Once you have selected the spread sheet, click ‘Upload’.
Once the eReturns has uploaded your spread sheet it will ask you to match the columns in your spread sheet to the columns in eReturns.
Once you have assigned all the columns, click ‘Import Data’.
Now eReturns will ask you to designate some of the values in some of the columns. You will need to assign values that eReturns recognises to some of the data in your spread sheet. See the example below:
Once you have matched the values from your spread sheet to values that eReturns will recognise you can click ‘Assign’. eReturns will tell you how many records were successfully imported, and list those which were not successful. You can also export the list of transactions which were not successfully imported from here. To close this window, click ‘Close’.
If you choose to export the list of transactions which were not successfully imported you can fix the problems in the data which eReturns has identified and re-import that list. Alternatively, you can use the ‘+ Add’ button to add those transactions manually.
eReturns will now upload the transactions from the spread sheet into the return wizard. Once it is complete you will be able to see the transactions in the list on the screen. Once you have finished on the receipts screen click ‘Next’ to move to the payments screen.
Step 3: Electoral expenditure
This screen will allow you to record details of political expenditure you have incurred during the reporting period.
Once you have recorded all of your political expenditure in each category, click ‘Next’ to move to the Annotations screen.
Step 4: Notes
The Notes screen allows you to record annotations against the return.
These annotations will be presented on the return as footnotes.
To add an annotation, click the ‘Add’ button. This will launch the ‘Add an Annotation’ window.
Enter the text of your annotation and click ‘Add’ to save it. Click ‘Close’ once you have entered all your annotations.
When you have finished recording annotations, click ‘Next’.
Step 5: Review
From this screen, you may view the draft return.
Here you will be presented with an image of what the data in your return will look like. Use the scroll bar on the right of the screen to view all of the pages of the return.
You’ll notice that there is nothing in the signature or date fields on the front of the return. These fields will only be populated once you have completed the lodgement screen and will appear on the final version of your return.
If you need to make changes to the data in the return, click ‘Back’. Once you have reviewed the image of your return and all data is correct, click ‘Next’ .This will take you to the Sign and Lodge screen.
Note: At the bottom of this screen, above the ‘Back’ and ‘Next’ buttons is a checkbox. Selecting this box will allow you to lodge a Notice of Incomplete Return. For more detail on this, go to the Lodging a Notice of Incomplete Return section of this guide.
When you are happy with the candidate’s return click the ‘Next’ button.
Step 6: Sign and lodge
The final step to lodging the return is to certify that the information is correct and to electronically sign. If you are sure that the information contained within the returns is correct, click the first check box. You will then need to type your name in the following box to act as an electronic signature. Finally, type your password into the final box. This step is to verify that the candidate agent is lodging the return.
Once you have completed these steps, click the ‘Lodge’ button and the return will be submitted.
From this screen you may save a PDF copy of your return. The AEC recommends that you save a copy of your return in case you need to print or refer to it at a later date. The unique reference number presented on this screen is also recorded on the return form in the bottom right hand corner. eReturns will also email you a copy of your lodged return by default.
eReturns will allow you to lodge a Notice of Incomplete Return online. For more information about when it is appropriate to lodge a Notice of Incomplete Return please consult the Financial Disclosure Guide for Candidates and Senate Groups.
To lodge a Notice of Incomplete Return in eReturns you will need to select the checkbox at the bottom of the review screen.
Selecting this box will take you to the Notice of Incomplete Return screen.
Here you are required to fill in the fields, detailing the information that is missing from your return, the reason why you were unable to obtain that information, who you believe may have the information which is missing, and why you believe that person has it. Once you have completed all of the fields on the screen, click ‘Next’ to review the Notice of Incomplete Return.
Once you have reviewed your Notice of Incomplete Return click ‘Next’ to go to the Sign and Lodge screen. To lodge your return and Notice of Incomplete Return follow the instructions at Step 6: Sign and Lodge of this guide.
Returns lodged using eReturns can also be amended using eReturns. To amend a return click the ‘View Returns’ button on the main menu.
The view returns screen will display.
Use the ‘Amend’ option in the drop down list next to the return you wish to amend. Only returns lodged online can be amended online.
This will launch the amendment wizard. The amendment wizard is exactly the same as the return wizard, except it already contains all of the data from your original return. To amend something, simply add, edit or delete as appropriate. Once you have finished working your way through the wizard, eReturns will generate an amendment form for you to review which will detail the changes. This amendment form can be lodged just like the original return.