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Crucial difference about 2020 tax deadline

Lucy Dean
·2-min read
Clock with alarm at australian dollars close up
Here's what's different this year. Image: Getty

The clock is ticking for Australians to file their tax returns, but if you think you’ve already missed it, you can breathe a sigh of relief.

As the annual deadline of 31 October this year falls on a Saturday, taxpayers have until Monday 2 November to file their tax return, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) has confirmed.

And taxpayers who have an accountant will be eligible for a longer period to file their returns, up to May 2021.

What if I miss the 2 November tax deadline?

Taxpayers who miss that extension face fines of as much as $1,100 if they leave it too late, Chartered Accountants ANZ tax leader Susan Franks said.

“If you have a late tax return, don’t sit on it - lodge it. By doing this you will prevent interest and fines accruing. Delaying lodging your tax return can make it more difficult to obtain tax payment plans with the ATO,” Franks said.

She said it’s critical that those who fear a tax bill still file their tax return.
“Don’t avoid paying your tax just because you are worried you can’t afford it. The ATO are usually willing to help out with a tax debt payment plan – provided you lodge your tax return genuinely,” Franks said.

Those who are struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic should get in touch with the ATO or chat to an accountant.

Continuing, she said those who haven’t filed their tax return can expect to be contacted by the ATO after the due date.

“It is important that you respond to this accurately and promptly to avoid stronger action being taken.”

Who’s filed so far?

More than $19.5 billion has been refunded to 7.5 million taxpayers, the ATO revealed earlier this week.

Of those, more than 2.7 million people have lodged in NSW and 2.1 million in Victoria. Another 1.8 million have lodged from Queensland.

ATO commissioner Karen Foat said the average lodgment takes around 30 minutes, with most income and personal details already included.

“All you need to do is confirm your details are correct and up-to-date and add any deductions,” Foat said.

“While much of your information will already be in your return, we recommend taking the extra minute to get your return right. Things like not updating bank account details, forgetting to include all income, or claiming deductions you are not entitled to can result in your refund being delayed.”

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