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Weirdest excuses for missing the tax deadline

'A mouse ate my receipts' - Would you give this excuse to the ATO? Source: Getty

The tax lodgement deadline of 31 October 2019 is looming, and hundreds of thousands of Australians still haven’t lodged their returns.

In past years they’re provided some pretty interesting excuses to the Australian Taxation Office why they hadn’t, like “a mouse ate my receipts”.

The ATO says the most common problem they see excuses for is missing receipts – with one taxpayer claiming a mouse had broken into their car and eaten their receipts.

“What’s a tax return? Never heard of it!” is another reason often claimed.

Leaving receipts in cars also seems to cause taxpaying Aussies strife, with the ATO claiming that one taxpayer, while trying to clean their car, lost all trace of their purchase.

And, my personal favourite: “Someone’s stolen my pants.”

One taxpayer said a thief broke into their car and took off with their uniform pants. The taxpayer had kept their receipt in the pocket of said pants, and therefore couldn’t provide a record of their purchase.

No really – someone stole my pants. What do I do?

Assistant commissioner Karen Foat said Aussies who lodge at the last minute make easily avoided errors, like lost receipts.

“One common thing we see is people losing track of receipts that have been thrown out by taxpayers thinking they didn’t need them anymore.

“People need to remember to keep receipts for all deductions they want to make. We can ask you to substantiate your claims at any time, even up to five years after the return is lodged.”

But if someone did steal your pants, the ATO recommends taxpayers keep digital records of all claims you intend to make.

“It can be difficult to keep track of all your physical receipts,” said Foat.

“One common thing we see is people losing track of receipts that have been thrown out by taxpayers thinking they didn’t need them anymore.

“We can ask you to substantiate your claims at any time, even up to five years after the return is lodged.”

Haven’t lodged your tax return? Do it now

Last year, around 475,000 taxpayers who completed their own tax return lodged late - and over 300,000 of them missed out on refunds as a result.

In light of this, Foat urged Aussies to meet the deadline, and actually complete the tax return accurately.

“We know that tax can seem complicated, which is why we see so many people putting it off,” she said.

“People should know that it’s actually becoming increasingly quick and painless to lodge your return.

“Some taxpayers have even told us that they’ve completed it whilst on the bus, it’s that easy. For the majority of taxpayers, this takes less than half an hour.”

And while you’re afforded some extra time if you’re using a tax agent, Foat said you should still endeavour to be on their books before 31 October.

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