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ATO urges Aussies to wait before lodging their tax return: ‘Be patient’

The ATO says lodging your tax return too early could cause you more pain than good.

A person filling out a tax return form and the ATO logo.
The ATO has warned Aussies that lodging their tax return too early could result in more work to do later down the line. (Source: Getty / ATO)

With tax time around the corner, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has reminded taxpayers not to rush lodging their annual income tax return from July 1.

The ATO said Aussies should wait to lodge their income return until their statement had been marked ‘Tax ready’ in their ATO online account and their other pre-fill information had been received.

The ATO said those rushing to submit their return could run the risk of processing delays and follow-up questions from the ATO if their return was incomplete.

Early submissions more likely to be wrong

ATO assistant commissioner Tim Loh said returns lodged in early July were more likely to be changed by the ATO compared to those lodged later.

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“While you can lodge from 1 July, there is a much higher chance that your return will be missing important information if you lodge your return before late July. If you forget to include everything, it will slow down the progress of your return, and you’ll likely end up with more work to do down the track,” Loh said.

“No one likes life admin, and we want to help save you somewhere we can. If you have simple affairs, by waiting a few more weeks until all your information is pre-filled into your tax return, you’ll save yourself extra work and worry by getting it right the first time.

“If you tried to bake a cake in an oven that wasn’t pre-heated, you’d end up with a half-baked disaster. Lodging your tax return before everything is ready is similar. Be patient, wait for your data to be pre- filled, and you’ll end up with a perfectly baked tax return.”

What information am I waiting to be pre-filled?

From late July, most information from employers, banks, government agencies and health funds would be automatically loaded into tax return, regardless of whether you used a registered tax agent or lodged your own return.

“Once the information we collect is available, all you need to do is check it and add anything that’s missing. Essentially, all a well-baked cake now needs is icing and sprinkles,” Loh said.

Loh said the ATO understood people sometimes made mistakes. Taxpayers who realise they have made a mistake can fix errors or omissions in their tax return through the ATO online-amendment process. This can be accessed via myGov or by speaking to a registered tax agent.

This year, the ATO expects fewer people to receive a refund, or may receive smaller refunds than they were expecting, and more may have tax debts to manage.

“If you receive a debt this year that you weren’t expecting or you’re getting behind with your tax, you may be able to set up your own payment plan on the ATO website. If you need additional support, reach out to us or have a chat with your registered tax agent as early as possible so we can find a solution,” Loh said.

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