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  • Individuals with financial difficulties

    Your situation

    Difficulty paying your tax on time

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

    Once you have lodged if you are having difficulty paying your tax obligations on time, phone us on 13 11 42.

    By contacting us early, we can help you address the problem before it becomes harder 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:

    • more time to pay tax debts without interest charge
    • tailored payment plans
    • remission of general interest charges
    • release from payment of certain taxes or penalties.

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    Difficulty lodging on time

    If you're having difficulty lodging on time, phone us on 13 28 61 to find out if you can lodge later.

    Depending on the level and type of income you receive, you may be eligible for free assistance from Tax Help. Tax Help is a community-based program that helps eligible low income earners complete their returns.

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    Hardship caused by an ATO imposed garnishee

    If your situation has changed since we issued a garnishee notice, and it is causing you financial distress, phone us on 13 11 42.

    We will work with you to develop a suitable alternative arrangement for payment of the debt.

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    Expecting a refund while experiencing hardship

    If you are experiencing hardship and expect an income tax refund, consider lodging your tax return online as you get your refund faster – generally within 2 weeks. You will need a myGovExternal Link account linked to the ATO.

    As a general rule the ATO will offset refunds and credits against a tax debt. For more information on the offsetting of refunds and credits see PS LA 2011/21.

    Loss of employment or reduced income

    If your employment ends, you may be eligible for a lump sum payment 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.

    If your income reduces or stops you may be eligible for Centrelink paymentsExternal Link . Many Centrelink payments count as assessable income, and need to be included in your tax return.

    Other government pensions, allowances and payments may be exempt from income tax, and do not need to be included in your tax return.

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    At risk of bankruptcy

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

    While bankrupt, excess credits, such as credits for pay as you go (PAYG) withheld amounts, go towards reducing your debts.

    Once discharged from bankruptcy, your remaining debts from the pre-bankruptcy period are irrecoverable at law and written off. If you did not incur any post-bankruptcy debts, any excess credits arising after your discharge are refunded.

    Note: bankruptcy does not release you from having to pay any accumulated Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) debt assessments not yet issued.

    For more information, phone us on 13 28 61.

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    Unable to access your frozen funds

    If you can't meet your tax payments because your income or non-bank funds are frozen, phone us on 13 11 42.

    If you can't access funds, you may be:

    • able to pay by instalments
    • eligible for a payment deferral.

    The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has provisions in place for taxpayers with frozen funds who are experiencing hardship. You can contact ASICExternal Link for more information.

    Superannuation

    SMSF experiencing difficulty

    Each self-managed super fund (SMSF) is different. You should get advice from a super professional before taking action. Ensure your advisor has the appropriate licence and qualifications.

    You are required by law to tell us of any events likely to have a significant adverse effect on the financial position of your fund – for example, if your fund is unable to make payments to beneficiaries when obliged to do so.

    Your employer is not paying your super

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

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

    Check your last super fund member statement, or contact them to confirm your employer paid your super.

    If you believe your employer is not paying your super, or is not paying your super to your chosen fund, you can lodge an enquiry by phoning us on 13 10 20.

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    Early access to your super

    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
    • compassionate grounds
    • if you have a terminal medical condition.

    To be eligible under severe financial hardship, you must meet the following conditions:

    • you received Commonwealth income-support payments continuously for 26 weeks
    • you are unable to meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses.

    The trustee of your fund can provide further information about eligibility for this condition of release. Contact your fund if you think you meet these conditions.

    If you want early access to your super benefits on compassionate grounds, send your application to the Department of Human ServicesExternal Link (DHS).

    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.

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    Financial advice

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

    For financial advice, contact:

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

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

    Check if someone holds the necessary licences on the public register at asic.gov.auExternal Link

    To talk to us about your tax obligations and entitlements, phone 13 28 61 or visit one of our shopfronts.

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    Last modified: 13 Sep 2017QC 51698