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Top call centre questions

Find answers to top call centre questions here and save time. High call volumes may result in long wait times.

Last updated 24 August 2023

Call wait times

We are receiving more calls than usual resulting in longer wait times. We apologise for this inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

Try our self-serve options to save time. Many calls can be managed using ATO online including myTax, ATO app or our self-help phone services.

If you don’t want to wait – check if the answer to your question is on this page before you call.

Do I need to lodge an income tax return?

Use our ‘Do I need to lodge?’ tool in your ATO online services account to check if you need to lodge:

  1. Sign in to myGov.
  2. Select, ATO from your linked services.
  3. Select Manage tax returns.
  4. Select Not lodged tab.
  5. Under the heading 'Outcome' select Do I need to lodge? for the relevant income year.

You can also use our online tool, see do I need to lodge a return.

How do I link my myGov account to the ATO?

To link your myGov account to the ATO:

  • Sign in to myGov.
  • Select View and link services.
  • Select Link next to Australian Taxation Office.
  • Follow the prompts to answer 2 questions about your tax record.

If you're unable to verify your tax record online, you must phone us.

Find out more on how to create a myGov account and link it to the ATO, the information you need to link myGov to the ATO and what to do when you can't sign in to your myGov account.

Why is my tax result so different this year?

There are a number of reasons you may receive a lower tax refund than in previous years or a tax bill, including:

  • the low and middle income tax offset has ended
  • your credit or refund has been offset against a debt with us or another government agency, including a debt on hold
  • a change in your personal circumstances.

If your refund has reduced, the tax you paid throughout the year was closer to your annual tax obligation.

If you receive a tax bill, you may be able to prevent this happening in the future.

You can find out more on why your tax return outcome may change in 2023.

Why did I get a tax bill?

Getting a tax bill means you didn't have enough tax taken out of your income throughout the year to meet your annual tax or compulsory loan repayment obligations.

There are a number of reasons you may get a tax bill, see why you may receive a tax bill.

If you're concerned that you'll get a tax bill again next year, you may be able to prevent this:

  • Check your employer has the right information about you – they may not be taking the right amount of tax out each pay if
    • you are claiming the tax-free threshold from more than one employer – if more than $18,200 of your income is not taxed correctly, you may need to pay the extra tax at the end of the year (tax bill)
    • you haven't told your employer about your study and training support loan – if they haven't taken out enough to cover your compulsory repayment, you may need to pay it at the end of the year (tax bill).
  • If you earn income from multiple sources – including salary and wages, income from a side-hustleExternal Link or as a sole trader – check you have paid the correct amount of tax
    • If tax wasn't paid throughout the year on some income, you may need to pay that tax at the end of the year (tax bill).
    • All income is totalled and used in your tax assessment. You may get a tax bill if the total amount changes your tax bracket or moves you over the threshold for the Medicare levy surcharge or for your study and training support loan.

You can increase the amount of tax you pay throughout the year by:

How do I start an online payment plan?

If you owe $200,000 or less, the easiest way to set up a payment plan is by:

You may also be eligible to adjust or cancel an existing payment plan.

Before you start, we recommend using our payment plan estimator to work out a plan you can afford.

If you can't afford a payment plan that’s offered online, or you owe more than $200,000, phone us on 13 11 42 during our operating hours to discuss your options.

When will I get my refund?

Most electronically lodged tax returns are processed within 2 weeks. We process paper tax returns manually and this can take up to 10 weeks.

The quickest and easiest way to check the progress of your tax return is by using our self-help services.

The status of your return may change a number of times as it is processed. If we need more information to finalise your return, we will call you. Calling us will not speed up the processing of your tax return.

If you’ve received notification that your refund has been processed, remember your refund may take up to 5 business days to be in your nominated bank account (depending on your financial institution).

Check out the article on ATO Community, where's my tax return?External Link

Why do I need to pay Medicare levy and Medicare levy surcharge?

The Medicare levy helps fund some of the costs of Australia's public health system (Medicare).

The levy is collected from you in the same way as income tax. Generally, your employer takes the levy from your salary or wages at the rate of 2% of your taxable income for the pay period.

We then calculate your total Medicare levy for the year, when you lodge your income tax return.

The Medicare levy surcharge (MLS) is an amount you pay on top of the Medicare levy if both you, your spouse and your dependent children do not have an appropriate level of private patient hospital cover and earn above a certain income.

The MLS is not charged for periods that you, your spouse and any dependent children are covered by an appropriate level of private patient hospital cover.

Check out our videoThis link opens in a new window.

Find out more about the Medicare levy surcharge income, thresholds and rates.

What's my tax file number?

A tax file number (TFN) is your personal reference number in the tax and superannuation systems. It is free to apply for one.

You don’t have to have a TFN, however if you don't have one, more tax will be taken out of payments made to you by your employer or financial institution.

You also won’t be able to:

  • apply for government benefits
  • lodge your tax return electronically
  • get an Australian business number (ABN).

You can find your TFN by checking:

  • ATO online services through myGov – you'll need a myGov account linked to the ATO
  • My details in the ATO app – you'll need a myGov account linked to the ATO
  • a payment summary or income statement (provided by your employer)
  • in letters you've received from us, such as a statement of account
  • your income tax notice of assessment if you've lodged a tax return
  • your superannuation account statement
  • with your registered tax agent.

Find out how to apply for a TFN.

I made a mistake in my tax return. How do I fix it?

Find out how to correct your tax return.

How do I know if it is the ATO contacting me or if it is a scammer?

If you think a phone call, SMS, voicemail, email or interaction on social media claiming to be from the ATO isn’t genuine, don't engage with it.

You can:

If you've paid or divulged personal information to a scammer, phone us on 1800 008 540 to report it.

My question is not here

Check out our:

Join the discussion on ATO CommunityExternal Link. It's available 24 hours a day with questions, answers and regular updates.

If you still need to contact us, our busiest days are Mondays, so consider calling later in the week.

We regularly update this page based on the calls we receive.

Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra.