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  • Don’t take a punt with your tax return

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is informing taxpayers that they risk any tax refund being delayed or having their return adjusted if they lodge their tax return before their income statement is marked as ‘Tax ready’.

    Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh explained the ATO sees more mistakes in early July as people rush to get their tax returns done.

    “You can lodge on 1 July, but you are punting with your tax return by risking delays to any refund you are owed. If you forget to include everything, you may end up answering questions from the tax office,” Mr Loh said.

    “We pre-fill some of the information in your tax return to help you to get it right the first time. We pre-fill information such as your wages, health insurance and interest from banks, this process is usually finalised by late July.”

    “Thanks to pre-fill, waiting a few extra weeks can make lodging your tax return online quicker and easier.”

    Taxpayers are more likely to have their return adjusted or experience a delay in the payment of any refund if they lodge their return before all their income has been entered. Last July, over 140,000 taxpayers had their 2020–21 tax return amended before the ATO issued their tax assessments.

    “The stakes are high for early July lodgers. People who lodge in July are twice as likely to have their returns adjusted by the ATO,” Mr Loh said.

    Each year, from late July onwards, most information from employers, banks, government agencies and health funds will be automatically loaded into tax returns.

    To check if pre-filled information is available and confirm if income statements are ‘tax ready’, visit the ATO app or log in to ATO online services through myGov.

    “Once the information we collect is available, all you need to do is check it and add anything that’s missing. This will give you time to find receipts from the last twelve months, which you can upload to the myDeductions tool in the ATO app, then upload straight to your tax return.”

    People often forget to include income from banks and dividends from shares. However, the ATO has access to a lot of this information.

    “Waiting for the ATO to upload information means people don’t have to roll the dice when they lodge, and it’s less likely an amendment will need to be made later, which could result in a tax debt,” Mr Loh said.

    Where someone feels the pre-filled figure needs to be changed, they must ensure they have the appropriate records to support the adjustment.

    The ATO understands people sometimes make mistakes. Taxpayers that realise they have made a mistake can fix errors or omissions in their tax return through the ATO online amendment process through myGov. If the ATO finds a genuine mistake in a tax return, the ATO will show the taxpayer the correct method so they can get it right next time and may remit penalties unless the error was unduly reckless.

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    Last modified: 30 Jun 2022QC 69971