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ATO warns of tax return ‘speedbumps’

(Source: Getty)

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is urging Australians to get a head start on tax season by taking a few simple steps to ensure a smooth experience when lodging their tax returns.

According to ATO assistant commissioner Karen Foat, the ATO’s online myTax service has almost completely replaced paper lodgements, but taxpayers still hit two main speed-bumps when lodging via myTax for the first time.

Here’s what they are and what to do:

1. Link myGov with the ATO

“My number one piece of advice for people who are going to use myTax for the first time is to log into your myGov account and link to the ATO well before tax time,” Foat said.

You’ll be asked two questions based on your records, which could be your bank account details, an income statement, or a Centrelink payment summary from the last two years.

If you don’t have enough information to confirm your identity in these ways, you can obtain a unique linking code by ringing up the ATO instead (you’ll need some ID ready, like your tax file number or driver's license). But this will take some time, said Foat.

“It is a faster process if you get organised early,” she said. “If you need to call us to link, we encourage you to do so now so that you don’t hit any delays when you choose to lodge your tax return. If you need a linking code, June is a great time to get that sorted.”

If you’ve filed a tax return before via myTax, you most likely already have gone through this process.

2. Make sure your income details are correct

Foat said another reason for major delays at tax time was because Australians were lodging too early.

Unfortunately, if you lodge too early, your income statements – which will likely be sent to you electronically by your employer, and also directly to the ATO – won’t be up-to-date. But it’s important to make sure all this information as up-to-date before lodging.

“We often see people too eager to get a tax refund making obvious mistakes, which can either delay processing the tax return or result in a bill later on,” Foat said.

“It’s important to check that your employer has finalised the information in your income statement and it is marked as ‘tax ready’ before you lodge.”

Other information, such as from banks, health funds and government agencies, will be automatically factored into your tax return, with this information usually ready by the end of July.

“Lodging once we have included all of your information in your tax return makes it even easier, but if you are lodging before then, make sure the information provided is complete, accurate, and up to date to avoid delays or a debt later on,” said the ATO assistant commissioner.

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