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  • Amend a return for repayment of income

    You can apply to amend your tax return when you have to repay income, whether you were entitled to the income or not.

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    Exception to repaying income

    If you have to repay an income amount that was part of your assessable income in an earlier income year, you can apply for an amendment of that year's income.

    The only exception is:

    • where you receive the income as a benefit or regular compensation payment, and
    • you then have to repay that income because you receive either  
      • a lump sum compensation payment
      • a lump sum payment for damages for a wrong or injury you suffer in your occupation.

    The process to amend your tax return depends on whether or not you were entitled to the payment when you received it.

    Entitled to the income

    You are entitled to income if you're correctly paid an amount that is due to you. You may have to amend your tax return if you later have to repay that amount.

    For example, you receive a payment on the condition that you will remain with an employer for a specified period but you don't meet the condition and you have to repay the employer.

    You need to meet all of the following conditions before you can request an amendment to your tax return:

    • you must have repaid the amount
    • you can't claim any deduction for the repayment in any year
    • the payment is not from a lump sum settlement.

    Example – entitled to income

    Charlotte is a member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). She is offered $50,000 (a retention bonus) to sign on for another 5 years of service. Under the terms of the contract, she must repay the bonus on a pro rata basis if she fails to serve for 5 years. She signs up for the retention bonus and includes the $50,000 as part of her assessable income in that year's tax return.

    3 years into her contract, Charlotte resigns from the ADF. She must repay two-fifths of the retention bonus.

    Once Charlotte repays the $20,000 she can amend her assessment for the income year she declared the $50,000. In her amendment she requests that her income be decreased by $20,000 for that year.

    End of example

    Not entitled to the income

    You are not entitled to income if you are paid an amount due to an error or mistake. Examples of errors or mistakes include where:

    • the government mistakenly overpays your taxable pension, allowance or payment
    • your employer mistakenly overpays salary.

    In this case the amount does not have to be repaid before amending your tax return.

    Your employer or payer should give you either an amended payment summary or income statement or a letter correcting the one previously issued. You should provide a copy of this with any amendment or objection request.

    Example – not entitled to income

    Hannah receives a regular social security payment. When she makes an incorrect income declaration she is mistakenly overpaid $825.

    Hannah must repay this amount as she's not entitled to the $825. Her tax return can be amended to reduce her assessable income.

    End of example

    If your employer reports to us through Single Touch Payroll, they are no longer required to give you a payment summary. Instead, an income statement replaces your payment summary. You can access this in ATO online services through myGov.

    Last modified: 31 May 2023QC 50384