• Financial difficulties: frequently asked questions - individuals

    Are you having difficulty paying your tax on time?

    If you are having difficulty paying your tax obligations, phone us on 13 11 42 to discuss your circumstances. By contacting us early, we can help you address the problem before it becomes more difficult to manage.

    Taking your situation into account, we can help you understand what options are available. In some circumstances, we may be able to offer assistance by arranging the following:

    • more time to pay tax debts without interest charge
    • tax debts to be paid by instalments
    • remission of general interest charges
    • release from payment of certain taxes or penalties.
    Attention

    It is important to lodge on time even if you are unable to pay by the due date.

    End of attention

    Are you having difficulty lodging your tax return on time?

    If you are having difficulty lodging your tax return on time, phone us on 13 28 61 as soon as possible to find out if you can lodge at a later date.

    Depending on the level and type of income you received in the financial year, you may be eligible to receive free assistance from Tax Help to complete your tax return. Tax Help is a community-based program that helps eligible low income earners complete their returns.

    Further Information

    For more information:

    End of further information

    Is a garnishee imposed by us causing you hardship?

    If your situation has changed since a garnishee notice was issued and the action taken is causing you financial distress, phone us on 13 11 42 to discuss your circumstances.

    We will work with you to develop a suitable alternative arrangement for payment of the debt. If you are experiencing hardship, we can discuss the possibility of applying for a release from your eligible debts.

    Further Information

    For more information see Release from your tax debt.

    End of further information

    Are you expecting a refund?

    Are you expecting an income tax refund and experiencing financial hardship? Complete and submit the Financial hardship income tax refund request.

    Have you lost your job?

    If your employment is terminated, you may be eligible to receive a lump sum payment, or payments, made up of entitlements such as:

    • unpaid wages
    • unpaid annual leave
    • unpaid long service leave
    • pay in lieu of notice
    • bona fide redundancy and approved early retirement scheme payments.

    Remember to register with Centrelink and contact one of their financial information service officers for information about your eligibility for Centrelink payments. Many Centrelink payments are assessable for income tax purpose and need to be included in your tax return. Other government pensions, allowances and payments may be exempt from income tax, in which case they do not need to be included in your tax return. For more information about exempt income, refer to Amounts you do not pay tax on.

    Have you got a second job?

    If you are employed, the first $18,200 of your yearly income is tax-free. You can only claim this tax-free threshold from one employer. This means if you get a second job you cannot claim the tax-free threshold for this income.

    The tax-free threshold should be claimed with the employer who usually pays the highest salary and wages. If you earn any additional income (for example, from a second job) then your other employer is required to withhold tax at a higher rate.

    Further Information

    For more information see Starting a second job.

    End of further information

    Has your income reduced?

    If your income has recently been reduced, you may have begun receiving payments from Centrelink. Many Centrelink payments are assessable for income tax purposes and need to be included in your income tax return.

    Further Information

    For more information see Are you getting government assistance?

    End of further information

    Are you at risk of becoming bankrupt?

    If you are placed into bankruptcy, your assets are vested in a trustee. The usual period for bankruptcy is three years, but this can be extended.

    Until you are discharged from bankruptcy excess credits, such as credits for pay as you go (PAYG) withheld amounts, are applied to reduce any debts.

    Once you are discharged from bankruptcy, any debts remaining from the pre-bankruptcy period are considered to be irrecoverable at law and written off. Assuming no other post-bankruptcy debts have been incurred, any excess credits arising after you have been discharged are refunded.

    Danger

    Bankruptcy does not release you from paying the balance of your accumulated Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) debt for which an assessment has not yet issued.

    End of danger
    Further Information

    For more information:

    End of further information

    Are you unable to access your funds because they have been frozen?

    If you are unable to meet your tax payments due to the freezing of income or non-bank funds, phone us as early as possible on 13 11 42. If you do not have access to some funds, we may be able to arrange for you to pay by instalments. Otherwise, you may be eligible for a payment deferral.

    Further Information

    The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has provisions in place for taxpayers who have frozen funds and are experiencing hardship. Contact ASIC or refer to ASIC facilitates withdrawals from frozen funds for more information.

    End of further information

    Do you need financial advice?

    We are committed to providing you with advice and information you can rely on about your tax obligations and rights as a taxpayer. However, we do not offer financial advice.

    For financial advice, you can contact one of the following:

    • a tax agent
    • a financial advisor
    • an accountant
    • a professional association.

    Make sure any advice you receive comes from a licensed financial adviser.

    To check if someone holds the necessary licences, visit the public register on the ASIC website at asic.gov.au.

    If you would like to talk to a tax officer about your tax obligations and entitlements, phone us on 13 28 61 or visit one of our shopfronts.

    Further Information
    • For information on financial tips and safety checks visit the Australian Securities & Investments Commission website at moneysmart.gov.au or phone 1300 300 630.
    • Confidential financial advice is available from Centrelink, free of charge, through the Financial Information Service (FIS). You can contact an FIS officer by phoning 13 23 00.
    • Financial counselling services can help if you are experiencing financial difficulty. They are available in every state and territory and provide a free, independent and confidential service. The details of financial counselling organisations around Australia are available at financialcounsellingaustralia.org.au
    • Do you need financial advice about managing your business?
    End of further information

    Do you have a SMSF that is experiencing difficulty?

    As each self-managed super fund (SMSF) is different, we encourage you to obtain advice from a super professional before taking action. You should ensure that the professional adviser you consult has the appropriate licence and qualifications.

    As the regulator of SMSFs, the super law requires you to tell us of any events that are likely to have a significant adverse effect on the financial position of your fund such as if your fund is unable to make payments to beneficiaries when obliged to do so.

    Do you think your employer is not paying your super?

    If you are concerned about unpaid super guarantee contributions, you should talk to your employer to confirm:

    • how often they are currently paying your super
    • which fund they are paying your super into
    • how much super they are paying you.

    You should also check your last member statement from your super fund, or contact them to confirm that your employer has paid your super.

    If you have done this and still believe your employer is not paying enough or any super, or is not paying the super to your chosen fund, you can lodge an enquiry about unpaid super by phoning us on 13 10 20.

    Further Information

    For more information see Unpaid super.

    End of further information

    Do you need to access your super early?

    Generally, you must reach preservation age before you can access your super.

    You may be eligible to access your super early in limited circumstances, including:

    • severe financial hardship
    • on compassionate grounds
    • if you have a terminal medical condition.

    To be eligible under cases of severe financial hardship you must have received Commonwealth income-support payments continuously for 26 weeks and be unable to meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses. The trustee of the fund will be able to provide further information about the eligibility for this condition of release. Contact your fund if you think you meet these conditions. For more information on the release of super due to severe financial hardship, visit Payments from super after a disaster.

    If you have a terminal medical condition, you can apply to your super fund to access your super benefits tax-free, regardless of your age. The final decision to release your super benefits is subject to the rules of the fund. For more information, refer to Access to super for members with a terminal medical condition.

    If you want to access your super benefits early due to compassionate grounds, you must send your application to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).

    Further Information

    For more information:

    End of further information
      Last modified: 02 Sep 2015QC 20057