Refunds and payments

The time taken to process a typical individual tax return allows for fraud checks, data matching with other government agencies and integrity checks against information we hold. We processed 92.5% of all individual tax returns without any manual intervention in 2012–13 and stopped around 100,000 potentially incorrect or fraudulent refunds.

We received 14.5 million current-year returns and finalised 14.4 million this year. From these, we issued 10.1 million refunds with a total value of $31.7 billion, a $666.1 million increase on last year. The number of income tax refunds we issued decreased by around 110,000 and activity statement refunds decreased by 3.5%.

During the same period, we received 1.7 million prior- and future-year returns. Of these, we finalised 1.9 million, resulting in around 926,000 refunds with a total value of $3.5 billion.

We are increasing our use of electronic funds transfer to pay refunds to taxpayers. Electronic refunds are a faster, easier and more secure method of receiving refunds. They improve our effectiveness by decreasing our costs and increasing our processing capacity. To further encourage electronic refunds, from 1 July 2013 Australian financial institution details must be included when lodging individual income tax returns through the electronic lodgment service in order to receive a refund. Of the 21.2 million payments we received in 2012–13, 92.6% were received electronically, a 4.9% increase on 2011–12. Manual payments decreased by 10.1% compared to 2011–12.

Payments received in 2012–13

Payments received in 2012–13

The proportion of liabilities raised in 2012–13 that were paid in full by the due date remained steady at 75.0% of transactions, representing 89.1% of the value of liabilities raised. This is in line with 2011–12 outcomes, particularly for company tax and excise.

Of the liabilities raised in 2012–13, 89.1% were paid by 30 June, representing 96% of the value of liabilities raised. These proportions are similar to 2011–12 across all major revenue products.

Table 2.6 Test Tax liabilities paid in full by due date, 2011–12 to 2012–13



Pay as you go withholding



Individuals – returns and instalments



Companies – returns and instalments



Goods and services tax









Due to some changes in methodology this year, figures are not directly comparable to those included in previous reports. However there is enough similarity in the methodologies to make the comparison meaningful.

We fast track the refunds for taxpayers (including businesses) experiencing serious financial hardship. We received 3,306 hardship requests in 2012–13 (3,234 from individuals and 72 from businesses). Of these, 2,168 were eligible for urgent processing (2,146 individuals and 22 businesses), compared to last year when we received 8,724 hardship requests with 3,279 eligible for urgent processing.

    Last modified: 16 Oct 2014QC 42686