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ATO’s urgent warning to 400,000 Aussies

Nearly half a million less people have submitted their tax returns than this same time last year.

A composite image of the ATO logo in exterior of the Australian Taxation Office and Australian money.
The ATO has reminded Aussies that the tax deadline is looming. (Source: AAP)

The tax deadline is approaching and the Australian Taxation office (ATO) has reminded people to lodge their returns or engage with a registered tax agent before October 31 to avoid a $1,375 fine.

ATO assistant commissioner Rob Thomson said more than 7.9 million people have already lodged their returns, sparking concerns as it is about 400,000 less than this time last year.

“If your long weekend plans are filled with DIY projects, how about you add your ‘DIY’ tax return to the list?” Thomson said.

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People with simple tax affairs can lodge online in under 30 minutes through myGov. The ATO said most of the information you need would already be pre-filled. Aussies have been told to just check it's correct, add any additional income, and claim the deductions they’re entitled to.

“DIY projects can get pretty complicated, but unlike flatpack furniture, doing your own tax return can be simple thanks to the data we pre-fill for you and the in-built help. But if you do need some help, you may like to speak with a tax agent to give you a hand,” Thomson said.

“Remember to only use a registered tax agent, and to get on their books by 31 October.”

Don’t be tempted to boost your refund

The ATO also reminded people to make sure their claims for work-related expenses accurately reflect their working arrangements this year – don’t just copy and paste claims from last year.

“We want people to get their deductions right on the first go and claim what they are entitled to – nothing more, nothing less. We have a series of 40 occupation and industry-specific guides which you should have a look at,” Thomson said.

“It may be tempting to boost your refund by leaving out income or inflating your deductions – but remember, we have sophisticated data analytics that will pick up returns that look suspicious.”

Aussies told to prepare for a tax bill

The ATO said the outcome of Aussies tax returns this year may be different than in previous years, with some people receiving a lower refund than expected, or even a tax bill.

“If you don’t receive a refund this year and you don’t have a bill, it means you’ve paid the correct amount of tax throughout the year. You may receive a bill for a number of reasons, one of which could be because you didn’t pay enough tax,” Thomson said.

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