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  • Bushfires 2019–20

    Devastating bushfires have impacted large parts of Australia since late 2019.

    If you live in one of the identified impacted postcodes, and don't want to think about tax, we've automatically deferred any lodgments or payments you have due. You, or your agent, don't need to apply for these deferrals.

    If you prepare and lodge your own tax forms, we've automatically deferred lodgment and their associated payments for:

    • Income tax, activity statement, self-managed super fund (SMSF) and excise returns until 28 May 2020
    • Fringe benefits tax (FBT) returns until 25 June 2020.

    If you're ready to lodge sooner, you don't have to wait until the deferred due date.

    If you use a tax professional to lodge on your behalf, you may have a different deferred due date. Contact your registered tax or BAS agent to check your due date for lodgment or payment.

    You may be eligible for temporary cash flow support when you lodge your activity statements for March through to September 2020. This is a new measure supporting small and medium businesses and not-for-profit organisations that employ staff and have been affected by the economic downturn associated with COVID-19.

    If you've been affected by this disaster but your postcode or local government area (LGA) is not in the current postcodes list, don't worry. Phone our Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218 for help.

    We understand that your priority at this time is your family and community, and we'll help you sort out your tax affairs.

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    Support is available

    To help you we may:

    • give you extra time to pay your debt or lodge tax forms such as activity statements
    • help you find your lost tax file number (TFN) by using methods to verify your identity such as your date of birth, address and bank account details
    • re-issue income tax returns, activity statements and notices of assessment
    • help you re-construct tax records lost or damaged in the bushfire
    • prioritise any refunds you are owed
    • set up a payment plan tailored to your circumstances including an interest-free period
    • remit penalties or interest charged during the time you have been affected by the bushfires
    • give you more time to meet SMSF lodgments and payment obligations
    • be able to give you a refund when you lodge, which we’d normally use to reduce or pay down a debt.

    You can phone our Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218 to see what support is available based on your circumstance.

    Lodgment and payment deferrals

    We recognise the ongoing effects of this disaster and will continue to update the list of identified impacted postcodes.

    Even if your postcode or LGA is not listed, you can phone our Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218 for help.

    If your business or residential address is in one of the postcodes granted access to the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP), we'll automatically defer any lodgments or payments you have due.

    If you're ready to lodge sooner, you don't have to wait until the deferred due date.

    We'll automatically apply a deferral so that you, or your agent if you use one, don't need to apply. If you need further assistance, you can phone our Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218.

    If you don't have a tax or BAS agent and are unable to access forms or business records, call us on 1800 806 218 and we'll help you lodge over the phone.

    Tax and BAS agents

    Tax practitioners and their clients affected by this natural disaster can access additional support. For more information, see Natural disasters.

    Tax and superannuation audits

    If you or your client are in the identified impacted postcodes and are currently subject to an audit, this will be temporarily suspended. If you wish to continue your audit, contact us or ask your registered agent to contact your audit officer for assistance. Where we identify a risk of fraud, we will continue to complete reviews before issuing any refund.

    If you're subject to an audit and not in the impacted postcodes, but have been affected, you can phone our Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218 for help.

    Large tax withholders

    Payment and lodgment deferrals for people in bushfire impacted postcodes don't apply to large withholders. Large withholders are those who have previously withheld more than $1 million tax annually or are part of a corporate group that has.

    Super guarantee payments

    Employers still need to meet super guarantee obligations for their employees.

    By law, we can't vary the contribution due date or waive the super guarantee charge on late super guarantee payments. For more information, see Employers affected by disaster.

    Prioritising refunds

    If your business or residential address is in one of the bushfire impacted postcodes we will automatically prioritise any refunds due to you. You don't need to ask us to prioritise your refund unless you have a debt.

    If you lodge and are owed a refund, which we’d normally use to reduce or pay down a debt, you can contact us and we may be able to give you the refund instead.

    Monthly GST credits

    Businesses making purchases to replace stock and other losses may elect to change their GST reporting and payment to monthly, to get quicker access to net amount refunds. You can only change from the start of a quarter, so a change now will take effect from 1 April 2020.

    Changing your GST reporting cycle to monthly doesn't mean you have to change your PAYG withholding reporting cycle. You can manage this by specifying the roles you are changing.

    Once you choose to report and pay GST monthly, you must keep reporting monthly for 12 months before you can elect to revert to quarterly reporting.

    However, if your GST turnover is more than $20 million you must pay and report monthly.

    If you're registered for fuel tax credits, and change your GST reporting from quarterly to monthly, you will also need to claim your fuel tax credits monthly.

    You can change your GST reporting cycle through your tax or BAS agent, in the business portal, or by phoning us on 13 72 26.

    Pay as you go instalments

    If you are a quarterly pay as you go (PAYG) instalments payer you can vary your PAYG instalments to nil on your activity statement for the December 2019 quarter. You can do this by lodging a revised activity statement before you lodge your income tax return for the year.

    You can also vary your PAYG instalments in future periods. We won't apply penalties or charge interest to varied instalments for taxpayers within the impacted postcodes in the 2019–20 financial year.

    If you've already lodged

    If you've already lodged any quarterly activity statements for 2019–20, you can claim a credit (at item 5B) on your next activity statement for the instalment amount you paid in the previous quarters, to receive a refund of the amount paid.

    You can also revise your latest lodged activity statement to nil, and claim a credit for amounts previously paid.

    If you realise you've made a mistake working out your PAYG instalment, you can correct it by lodging a revised activity statement or varying a subsequent instalment.

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    Counselling and mental health support

    The Australian Government is offering free counselling and additional mental health support to individuals, families and emergency services workers affected by the 2019–20 bushfires. The Australian Government mental health response to bushfire trauma program provides access up to 10 free mental health support sessions and Medicare rebates through GPs for up to 10 counselling sessions with a psychologist or other mental health professional.

    For information on how to access these services, visit How to get mental health supportExternal Link.

    Financial counselling

    If you are a small business or sole trader and you've been impacted by the bushfires you can get free financial counselling support from the Small Business Bushfire Financial CounsellingExternal Link Support Line on 1800 413 828. This service is supported by the Australian Government.

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      Last modified: 28 Apr 2020QC 60611