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‘Get your return right’: ATO issues new warning

Jessica Yun
·3-min read
(Source: Getty)
(Source: Getty)

Australians who haven’t yet filed their tax returns have mere days to do so, the Australian Taxation Office has warned.

ATO assistant commissioner Karen Foat is advising taxpayers to lodge soon, or risk missing the cut-off date.

The final day for individuals to lodge a tax return is 31 October every year. But because this falls on a Saturday, the due date is Monday 2 November.

“The average lodgment through our myTax service takes under 30 minutes,” said Foat.

“With most of your income and personal details automatically included in your return, all you need to do is confirm your details are correct and up-to-date and add any deductions.”

Extra care should be taken this year to ensure your details are correct, she added.

“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.”

Lodging via tax agent

If you’re lodging through a tax agent, you have to engage them before 31 October.

“If you plan to lodge with a tax agent, you may have a later lodgement date, but it is important to contact your agent and get on their books now,” said Foat.

And if you’re putting off your taxes because you’re worried you might end up owing the ATO money, the assistant commissioner urged Aussies to get in touch with the tax office to find out about support options.

It still matters that Aussies try to meet the deadline, she said.

“You still need to lodge your tax returns on time if you can, even if you can't pay by the due date. This will show us that you're aware of your obligations and doing your best to meet them.

“Once we understand your situation we can discuss whether a deferral or a payment plan is best for you.”

Aussies who don’t file their tax returns on time could face a penalty of up to $1,100 depending on how many days it’s overdue.

Don’t forget about your work-from-home expenses

Aussies forced to work from home this year because of the pandemic have been given an additional ‘shortcut’ option for calculating home-related expenses.

But falsifying claims could mean Aussies have to pay up for lying, Foat warned.

“As expected, we’ve seen more people than ever make claims for working from home expenses,” she said.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing a small number of people not taking care to adjust their claims to their altered circumstances or making claims without sufficient evidence.

“Not being able to support your claim if asked, may delay your refund and result in a penalty in the most serious cases.”

The ATO has revealed to Yahoo Finance exactly how to claim the new home expenses via the new ‘shortcut’ for remote workers lodging their tax returns.

Important tax dates you should know

  • Tax return due date (lodging yourself): 31 October (Monday 2 November in 2020)

  • Tax return due date (lodging via agent): 15 May 20201

  • Engage a tax agent by: 31 October

  • If you’re having difficulties or can’t lodge by 31 October: Contact the ATO

  • If you lodge but owe the ATO: Pay by 21 November

For more Yahoo Finance coverage on Tax Time 2020, visit here.

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