Tuesday, 18 June 2019 Sydney

Don't let the deadline be a dread-line::

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is reminding taxpayers that there is just one month left to lodge their own tax returns. Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson said that over 2.5 million people have already lodged their own returns via myTax, with another 5.2 million people lodging via an agent, and she expects millions more in October.

“The upcoming deadline shouldn’t be cause for concern though, because our suite of online services makes it easier than ever before to get your return in on time,” she said.

“We use sophisticated data-matching technology to pre-fill most information into returns, including things like wages, bank interest and dividends. With the majority of pre-fill information now available most of the hard work is already done, and it’s even easier if you have been recording your deductions using myDeductions on the ATO app. In most cases you or your registered agent only need to double-check the pre-filled information, include any work-related expenses and click submit.

“If you plan to lodge your own tax return using the ATO’s online service myTax, you need to lodge by 31 October 2017. If something happens and you miss the deadline, you should lodge as soon as you can to minimise penalties.”

Ms Anderson reminded taxpayers planning to use a registered tax agent to talk to them before the deadline.

“Agents are able to lodge your return after 31 October, but only if you are on your agent’s books before then. This is especially important to remember if you’re using an agent for the first time or are using a different agent this year.”

Most returns are processed in less than two weeks, and over 98.8% of people who have already lodged a tax return this year received their refunds within 12 days. However, Ms Anderson warns that mistakes in your return may create delays.

“If you realise you have made a mistake and have already lodged, don’t stress. You can quickly and easily make an amendment online using myTax or by contacting your registered tax agent,” Ms Anderson said.

“If you don’t fix it, we may have to contact you, which can create unnecessary processing delays.”

Ms Anderson urged taxpayers not to put off doing a tax return if they expect to have a debt.

“We know some people put off lodging because they think they’ll owe money, and they don’t realise that the payment will be due on 21 November regardless of when they lodge,” Ms Anderson said.

“We have ways to help you if you think you may have difficulties paying your tax debt, but you still need to lodge on time.

“If you need assistance, it’s important that you contact us early and we’ll work with you to tailor a payment plan to your circumstances. Depending on your situation, you might even be able to set up a payment plan online.”

For more information on making an amendment visit ato.gov.au/fixamistake or to set up a payment plan, visit ato.gov.au/helpwithpaying

For information about the due date, visit ato.gov.au/lodgeonline

To make sure your tax agent is registered, visit tpb.gov.auExternal Link

Far-fetched excuses from late lodgers

ATO officers have heard it all when it comes to excuses for lodging late. Here are some of the boldest examples we’ve heard recently.

  • “My paperwork flew out the car window when I was on my way to see the accountant.”  
  • “I have a condition that only allows me to work 30 minutes each week, so I couldn’t lodge.”
  • “My accountant has gone to prison. He is working on it, but it’s taking longer than normal because he can’t access a computer.”
  • “My ex-wife burnt everything belonging to me, including all of my tax records.”
  • A taxpayer was asked why he hadn’t lodged returns for years between 2008 to 2015, and he said it was because he suffered a back injury in 2016.
  • A taxpayer said he hadn’t lodged his return on time because his father had died recently. The ATO officer was sympathetic until case notes revealed that he had used the same excuse more than a year before.

If you are having difficulties meeting your tax obligations, you don’t need an excuse – you just need to contact us as soon as possible so we can help.

If you are having difficulties paying a tax debt, you can call us to set up a payment plan. Depending on your circumstances, you may even be able to set one up online.

For more information visit ato.gov.au/helpwithpaying