$275 tax return fine hidden in the Budget

·2-min read
People crossing the street and Australian money notes tax
Aussies will soon be paying higher fines for various offences, including lodging your tax return late. (Source: Getty)

Aussies will soon be hit with higher fines, with the Federal Government hiking costs by $53 in last night’s Budget.

From January 1, 2023, the Government will increase the cost of a Commonwealth penalty unit from $222 to $275.

The cost will continue to be indexed each three years in line with inflation, with the next price hike due on July 1, 2023.

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The change will net the Government an extra $31.6 million over the next four years.

“This measure ensures that financial penalties for Commonwealth offences continue to remain effective in deterring unlawful behaviour and contributes to Budget repair,” Budget papers said.

Penalty units are used for fines that are payable for breaches of Commonwealth law, including for communication, financial, tax and fraud offences.

One notable Commonwealth fine is for failing to lodge your tax return on time.

For individuals, fines start at one penalty unit but can increase every 28 days, up to five times, until the return is lodged.

Fines are calculated by multiplying the value of the penalty unit by the number of penalty units that apply to the particular offence.

So, under the changes, that means taxpayers could be fined between $275 and $1,375 for failing to lodge their tax return on time.

Generally, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) won’t apply penalties in “isolated cases of late lodging” and will “consider your circumstances when deciding what action to take”.

Tax deadline looming

Aussies have until October 31 to lodge their tax return if they are doing it themselves.

If you are using a tax agent or accountant to do your tax return, you need to have signed up by October 31.

If you don’t, you risk getting hit with a $222 fine this year, with a $275 fine applying once the changes kick in.

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