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  • Tax season comes to an end

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is reminding Australians that this is the last week to either lodge their tax return or register with a registered tax agent.

    So far this tax time, over $20 billion has been refunded to more than 7.2 million taxpayers.

    Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh understands that tax might have been the last thing on people’s minds these last few months.

    “If you’re planning to DIY your tax but haven’t got around to it yet, don’t worry. For people with simple tax affairs, lodging through our myTax service can be done and dusted in under 30 minutes. Most of your income and personal details will already be there; simply confirm it’s correct, add any additional income and claim your eligible deductions.”

    “If you’re lodging with a registered tax agent the same information will be available to them. You may also have a bit longer to get your return in; all you need to do is be registered with your agent before the end of this week.”

    While having the data ready to go cuts down lodgment time, taxpayers still need to check their details are accurate. Mistakes like forgetting to update bank account details, leaving out income, or deducting ineligible amounts can delay refunds.

    “Four out of five people receive a refund with most refunds issued in less than two weeks. This process can’t be sped up, even if you call us.”

    “If you want to keep an eye on how your return is progressing, you can do this by logging into the ATO app or via myGov,” Mr Loh said.

    Those who lodged themselves will also receive an SMS when we’re at the final stage of processing their refund. This will include an estimate for when they will receive any refund owed.

    It’s important to note that the amount of any refund will depend on each individual’s circumstances and how much tax they have paid throughout the year.

    We will automatically include the low and middle income tax offset (LMITO) for eligible taxpayers. If you do need to pay tax, the LMITO will be applied to reduce the amount you need to pay or have already paid throughout the year. Importantly, it doesn’t provide a refund if no tax is paid. The offset is between $255 and $1,080 – the exact amount will depend on an individual’s taxable income.

    Working from home shortcut extended

    In recognition of the continuing extenuating circumstances resulting from COVID-19, the ATO has extended the temporary 80 cents per hour ‘shortcut method’ for working from home expenses for the full 2021–22 financial year. Taxpayers wishing to use this easy and simple method just need to keep a record of the number of hours they work from home to claim all their working from home expenses.

    This arrangement is still temporary – those who have spent money on home office equipment over the past 18 months and want to claim part of an expense over $300 (such as a desk or computer) in future years, will need to keep receipts.

    ATO support

    Mr Loh reassured that “if you are unable to lodge on time, we encourage you to contact us or speak with a registered tax agent as soon as possible.”

    “If you’re delaying lodgment due to an expected bill you can't pay right away, we encourage you to lodge this week. Even if you can’t pay on time, lodging your tax return shows us that you’re doing your best to meet your obligations.”

    “We can work with you to tailor a payment plan to your circumstances. In most cases, taxpayers can easily set up their own payment plan online depending on how much they owe.”

    Support is also available to registered tax agents at any time, and we are working hard to ensure that this help is tailored and personalised. Agents that need assistance for any reason, are encouraged to reach out to us as soon as possible so we can understand their situation as best we can so that we can offer the right service.

    More information

    To find out how to check the progress of your return, visit Progress of return.

    To use our calculators and tools, visit ato.gov.au/Calculators

    For information on the taxability of COVID support, visit ato.gov.au/COVID19supportpayments.

    For everything else tax time, visit ato.gov.au/TaxEssentials.

    For journalists

    Last modified: 25 Oct 2021QC 67187