Show download pdf controls
  • Improving activity statement lodgment

    Our lodgment enforcement work focuses on identifying and supporting taxpayers who fail to lodge activity statements and who choose not to work with us to resolve their outstanding lodgments.

    We will:

    • continue to compare lodgment and income history with data from external sources. This allows more accurate identification of the taxpayers we contact and encourage to assess their liabilities and comply
    • work closely with the property industry. We match asset transactions held by state revenue offices and land titles offices to identify and engage developers who sell property but fail to lodge their activity statements
    • encourage taxpayers to review their activity statement obligations and check that they are lodging correctly, and on time
    • contact taxpayers if their lodgment is not up-to-date, with a focus on taxpayers whose details are not current
    • take firmer action to resolve outstanding lodgments where taxpayers fail to work with us to resolve their outstanding lodgment obligations. This may include raising default assessments, imposing penalties or prosecution.

    It's important to contact us as early as possible if you think you might lodge or pay late. To check if alternative arrangements can be made, phone us on 13 28 66. Even if you can't pay on time, you still need to lodge your activity statement by the due date.

    In the first two years of the program, we:

    • reminded almost 2.7 million clients about their BAS lodgment obligations via mail-outs and SMS
    • undertook stronger enforcement activities with over almost 37,000 taxpayers
    • contacted another 200,000 taxpayers with outstanding lodgments
    • raised $464.1 million in GST liabilities and a further $692.9 million in other non-GST liabilities.

    Find out about:

    Requirements when ceasing business

    If you've ceased business, you should:

    • cancel your Australian business number (ABN),and GST registration. When cancelling your ABN, it will also cancel ATO digital certificates and the registration of any representative holding an AUSkey for your business. This may prevent you from using some government online services
    • notify us if you no longer require your TFN
    • inform us of any changes to your circumstances and keep your details up-to-date, to ensure any correspondence sent to you reflects your current situation and prevent unnecessary contact from us
    • ensure all your lodgment, reporting and payment obligations are up-to-date, including your activity statements and PAYG withholding reports, refunds of GST credits and outstanding tax debts.

    See also:

    Registered tax and BAS agents

    We will contact you, or your client, to request the immediate lodgment of activity statements that are not lodged on time or remain overdue.

    To prevent being contacted about late or non lodgment:

    • encourage your clients to meet their tax obligations by providing necessary records before the due date
    • plan for the accurate and progressive lodgment of activity statements throughout the financial year with your clients
    • check the Lodgment program website for updates and extended due dates available for electronic activity statement lodgment
    • lodge your clients' activity statements electronically to ensure they receive the full benefit of lodgment program concessional due dates
    • keep your clients' contact details current, to allow for the correct issue or re-issue of activity statements
    • delete any clients that you no longer represent from your registered agent number, so our records accurately reflect your client list
    • request a deferral of lodgment, if your client is experiencing unforseen or short-term difficulties
    • it is important you contact us early to discuss the support available to help manage your lodgment program during this time.

    See also:

    Case studies

    All persons mentioned in the scenarios are fictional

    Example 1: Conviction and heavy fine for failing to lodge

    Throughout his twenties Ben worked in the family jewellery business, specialising in designing custom pieces and accompanying his father on trips around the world to buy precious stones and diamonds. When his father announced his retirement, he could think of no one better than Ben to take control.

    Ben, like other business owners, worked long hours and supported his young family. At the end of the week, the last thing he felt like doing was the paperwork. What started as a month's backlog of filing quickly turned to a year's worth, and then two.

    When Ben failed to lodge his activity statements, he caught the attention of the ATO. Trudy, an ATO staff member, contacted Ben, offered him assistance and gave him an extension to lodge outstanding returns. Ben chose not to cooperate.

    The ATO pursued legal action and only after Ben was issued with a court summons did he lodge the outstanding returns. During sentencing, the magistrate acknowledged that he had been non-compliant for some time and stated that, as taxpayers, we owe it to the community to lodge returns in a timely manner.

    Ben was convicted and fined a total of $10,500 in relation to nine offences for failing to lodge GST returns.

    End of example

    Example 2: Poor record keeping does not reduce your obligations

    When Barry started Hardwearing Home Renovations, he wanted to build his people's dream homes - not do paperwork. One of Barry's first priorities was to find an accountant. Barry got on with building, and once a quarter collected all his receipts and dropped them off to his accountant.

    During the global financial crisis (GFC), Hardwearing Home Renovations' business slowed as clients found it hard to pay and potential clients reconsidered and turned their minds to saving. While Barry had a few jobs up his sleeve, he began to worry about his financial affairs and how he would cope if he owed the ATO on his next BAS.

    The next day, Barry heard on the radio that the ATO would start making economic stimulus payments within a week. 'Excellent', Barry thought, 'that gets me off the hook with my next BAS. They will be too busy worrying about making those payments to chase me'.

    Weeks turned into months and Barry continued to fail to lodge his BAS. Unfortunately for Barry, the ATO had kept a close eye on BAS lodgment and soon he was contacted by the ATO. Barry hoped the problem would go away. Several months into the audit, Barry was told court action may soon commence and he finally decided to provide the paperwork to his accountant.

    Upon receiving the court attendance notice, Barry's accountant lodged the outstanding BAS for Hardwearing Home Renovations. After pleading guilty, Barry was convicted and received a fine of $49,000. In sentencing, the Magistrate noted that 'although you entered an early plea of guilty and have since lodged all outstanding BAS, poor record keeping does not reduce your, or anyone else's obligations'.

    End of example
      Last modified: 22 May 2017QC 23695