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ATO’s major warning over $1,288 cash boost: ‘Not a race’

Millions of Aussies are desperate to lodge their tax returns ASAP this year.

Tax return and people
The ATO has asked Aussies to wait to lodge their tax returns until the end of July. (Source: Getty/AAP)

Millions of Aussies are expecting to score a tax refund this year, with the average person anticipating a cash boost of $1,288. While this will be welcome money for many Aussies, being patient could save you a massive headache with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

The tax office is warning taxpayers against rushing to lodge their tax returns as soon as they can on July 1. Instead, they are urging people to wait a few weeks longer.

ATO assistant commissioner Rob Thomson said taxpayers who do their returns in early July were twice as likely to make a mistake.

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“Tax time is not a race, and there is a much higher chance that your return will be missing important information if you lodge in early July,” Thomson said.

“This is particularly relevant if you are receiving income from multiple sources.”

Forgetting to include interest from banks, dividend income, payments from government agencies and private health insurance details are among the most common mistakes made.

Most information from employers, bank government agencies and health funds will be automatically loaded into your tax refund from late July, the ATO noted, regardless of whether you are using a tax agent or lodging yourself.

Check your income statement from your employer is marked as “tax ready” and your pre-filled information is available in myTax before lodging.

“We know some prefer to tick their tax return off the to-do list early and not think about it for another 12 months, but the best way to get it right is to wait just a few weeks to lodge,” Thomson said.

In the meantime, Aussies are being encouraged to gather all necessary information, ensure their details are up to date and check what they are entitled to claim.

With the low and middle income tax offset now long gone, Tax Invest Accounting director and registered tax agent Belinda Raso said people needed to “put the work in” if they wanted to get a refund this year.

“Unless you’ve got deductions, our tax system is not set up for us to get a refund,” Raso told Yahoo Finance.

“If your employer has withheld correctly, you won’t get a refund. Your refunds are based purely on deductions. So if you have none, you’re not going to get a refund.”

The ATO has occupation guides you can check to see what you can and can’t claim. H&R Block director of tax communications Mark Chapman has also written a handy deductions guide here.

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