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It's almost tax time so when's the deadline and how do I avoid $313 fine? ATO cheat sheet

The fine can be applied up to five times if you fail to submit your tax return on time.

As we approach tax time, Aussies need to be aware of a date on the Australian Taxation Office's (ATO) calendar if they want to avoid a hefty fine. People can lodge their tax returns from July 1 and they have until October 31 to get that paperwork filed.

Surely some are hoping to cash in on a return (be aware of these claims the ATO are cracking down on), but remember that failure to submit your tax documents on time can cost you. The $315 fine can continue to grow if you ignore the problem.

Here's a guide of the dates you need to know, and a bit more information on when you need to claim.

Person submitting their tax return with ATO logo and a calendar
You have to submit your tax return by October 31 this year or you could face a big penalty. (Source: Getty)

Have you had any issues with your tax? Email stew.perrie@yahooinc.com

How much is the ATO penalty?

There's a four-month window for Aussies to submit their tax returns for the 2023-24 financial year, which is ample time for you to do the work yourself or hand it over to a registered accountant who will submit it for you.

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If, for whatever reason, you aren't able to get your tax return lodged by October 31 then you could be liable for a late lodgement penalty.

For individuals, that will be $313 out of your pocket.

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But it doesn't stop there. You have 28 days to lodge your tax return after the October 31 deadline before you're hit with another $313 fine.

Aussies can be fined up to five times for failing to submit their documentation, meaning you could face a maximum penalty of $1,565.

H&R Block said people miss this deadline for all sorts of reasons.

"We see clients who haven't lodged tax returns for many years, or even many decades in some cases," the Australian tax service said. "Often they've been very distressed about what will happen to them and have simply been avoiding it – the ostrich approach.

"That's how one year can become five years and then 20 years."

Do I have to submit my tax return this year?

Yes, it is a requirement for most people to submit a tax return.

Those who earn under the taxable income threshold of $18,200 don't have to submit a tax return. However, if you're over that amount then you have to follow the rules.

According to ATO, other people who have to lodge their tax return include:

  • People who have had tax withheld from any payments (such as wages) during the income year

  • Those who are leaving Australia forever or for more than one income year

  • Residents who wish to claim any tax deductions

  • Earners who are liable or a recipient parent under a child support assessment for the whole income year if your income was $27,063 or more.

  • Foreign residents with a study or training support loan, even if you have no Australian income.

  • TForeign residents who earned more than $1 in Australia during the income year unless:

    • Your only Australian-sourced income was interest, dividends or royalties and you paid the correct amount of non-resident withholding tax

    • You are a working holiday maker (417 or 462 visa holder) and your taxable income for the year is less than $45,001.

If you don't match any of those then you might not have to submit your tax return and instead have to fill out a Non Lodgement Advice form.

What happens if I still don't lodge my return after the fine?

If you don't cough up the $1,565 fine and submit your tax returns then the ATO can come after you in other ways.

A default assessment could be done, but it might not be as accurate as if you did it yourself.

"Once assessed by us it will attract a 75 per cent penalty of the tax-related liability," the ATO said.

"This means for every $100 you owe, an additional $75 is payable."

The ATO can also audit your finances, hold onto your refund until you lodge it, or it can prosecute you.

"Failing to lodge is a criminal offence and once convicted by the court you could face additional fines and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months," it said.

"Our decision to take this type of action will not be treated lightly so before any action starts we will notify you of our intentions (usually by phone and in writing) and allow you sufficient time to bring your overdue lodgements up to date."

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