Interest and penalties
Australia’s revenue system relies on taxpayers providing correct information to establish their tax liability and paying the correct amount of tax on time.
To ensure the system is fair for everyone:
- general interest charge is applied to an unpaid tax liability from the date it was due to be paid until it and the accrued interest charges are paid
- shortfall interest charge is applied where an additional amount of tax is payable because of an amended assessment
- penalties are imposed for conduct such as not taking reasonable care in claiming a deduction to which you are not entitled, or making a false or misleading statement.
The interest charges are intended to ensure that taxpayers who underpay their tax for a period don't receive an advantage over those who have paid their tax on time, and to compensate the community for the impact of late payments.
The penalty provisions are intended to encourage taxpayers to take reasonable care in complying with their tax obligations.
The law provides us with the discretionary power to remit (partially or in full) interest charges and penalties in certain circumstances.
General interest charge is imposed on late payments and unpaid tax debts, and shortfall interest charge is imposed on outstanding amounts from amended assessments. Penalties are applied where a tax obligation is not met. Safe harbour provisions may protect a taxpayer from penalties in some circumstances.