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Received any emergency payments? Here’s what you need to tell the ATO

Australian ATO tax return forms and a man holding Aussie $50 notes
The ATO needs to know about emergency payments you may have received. (Source: Getty)

It’s tax time, and while you shouldn’t be rushing to fill out your tax return, if you received any Government help this year you’ll need to tell the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) about some of them.

Millions of Australians have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns with thousands more now dealing with damaging floods.

To help those in need, the Government has rolled out a number of initiatives but some payments are tax deductible.


Here’s a breakdown so you know what to declare.

Taxable payments

If you got any of these payments in the 2021/22 tax year, you need to declare them in your tax return:

  • Disaster Recovery Allowance

  • Disaster Recovery Allowance Top-up

  • New Zealand Disaster Recovery Allowance

  • Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment

If you get family assistance payments, you’ll also need to include these disaster payments as income if you need to advise non lodgement of tax return.

Non-taxable payments

You don’t need to report any of these non-taxable disaster payments:

  • Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment

  • Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment - Special Supplement for a natural disaster

  • Australian Victim of Terrorism Overseas Payment

  • COVID-19 Disaster Payment

When should you lodge your return?

The ATO warned Aussies could risk having their tax return delayed if they lodged too early.

Assistant commissioner Tim Loh said the ATO saw the most mistakes in early July as people rushed to get their tax returns done.

“You can lodge on 1 July, but you are punting with your tax return by risking delays to any refund you are owed,” Loh said.

“If you forget to include everything, you may end up answering questions from the tax office.

Loh said it was best to wait until your information had been pre-filled by the ATO, once information from your employer or Services Australia had been provided.

“We pre-fill information such as your wages, health insurance and interest from banks, this process is usually finalised by late July,” he said.

“Thanks to pre-fill, waiting a few extra weeks can make lodging your tax return online quicker and easier.”

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