• Prevent delays in processing returns

    While we strive to maintain our service commitment, longer than standard processing times occur when:

    • we need to cross-check data with other government agencies (including Centrelink and Child Support)
    • your client has a debt obligation with us
    • your client is insolvent
    • a tax file number (TFN) has been compromised
    • we have queries about information provided in a tax return.

    When these situations arise, we usually need to review the details, contact you and where necessary adjust the tax return.

    In this section:

    Avoid common errors

    Since 1 July 2016, over 193,000 individual tax returns received via the electronic lodgment service (ELS) were delayed in processing. This was due to incorrect or incomplete details such as surname, year of birth and private health insurance policy details.

    Other common errors include:

    • providing insufficient or incorrect information – for example, not completing income test questions and spouse information
    • lodging duplicate returns for the same year – if your client has already lodged their tax return and needs to correct a mistake, you must request an amendment
    • repeating information – if you have already declared information at a previous question, don’t repeat it as additional information
    • including information from a prior year return that is not relevant for the current year return – if rolling over details from a previous year’s return in your software, make sure you delete information that is no longer relevant, including additional information.

    Client details that don’t match our records

    Before lodging your clients' tax returns:

    • confirm details with your clients – particularly their names, addresses, TFN and date of birth
    • compare their details with those on the portal
    • update any incorrect details.

    If you transpose details from previous year tax returns, ensure that the details in your software are correct before lodging.

    When lodging tax returns for multiple years (even if you are lodging them on or around the same day) ensure your clients' details are correct on all returns.

    See also:

    Providing additional information

    Including additional information in a return stops processing as we need to check the information you provided. This will delay processing and in most cases, take longer than 12 days to review and confirm that information.

    Include:

    • Requests for advice that directly affect the calculation of tax for that specific tax return, such as:
      • querying if an item in the return is eligible for inclusion as taxable income
      • determining if private binding rulings relate to this return.
       
    • Details we request to be included as additional information, for example, when a client:
      • contributed to more than one superannuation fund or retirement savings account (RSA)
      • is not an Australian resident and intends to claim a credit that the trustee had paid on their share of income from a resident trust.
       
    • Software problems
      • Include details of information you cannot enter at a particular field or label, including the value and field or label names.
       
    • Foreign income, always include:
      • net foreign income from a tax treaty country
      • foreign income tax offset to be calculated by us.
       

    Leave out:

    • additional information if it is not relevant to the outcome of the income tax assessment
    • additional information you have carried over from the previous year, unless it is current for the tax return being lodged
    • information such as personal details (for example, family breakups), or work-related expenses
    • written notes, such as 'final', 'nil return', 'please issue a notice of assessment', 'minutes', 'statement of distribution', 'other', or any numeric symbols
    • information that is already included elsewhere on the tax return.

    Tips for specific subjects

    Primary production

    Include electing to withdraw from primary production averaging provisions:

    • An election must be made in the year of the tax return when your client first wants to withdraw. Include the date of withdrawal and quote section 392–25 to apply.
    • Special/taxable professional income for primary producers when averaging details have not been applied in the previous year or years.

    Leave out averaging provisions that have been applied correctly in previous years.

    Lump sum payment in arrears

    Include the amount of the lump sum and the breakdown of the amount of payment in arrears for each income year involved. This is required to correctly calculate a tax offset, if eligible. This applies to lump sum payment in arrears (LSPIA) on tax returns either at:

    • Q7 labels Y or Z
    • Q24 label Y.

    Leave out:

    • If the LSPIA amount is under 10% of the taxable income, less the amount of the LSPIA, employment termination payment (ETP) death component, other lump sum income and capital gains.

    Non-residents

    Part-year resident and non-resident clients with interest and dividend income should:

    Include:

    • details of amounts for interest and unfranking dividend income
    • the country of residency, where unfranking dividends are to be returned; this will ensure the correct rate for the dividend income is applied.

    Leave out:

    • dates of entry and exit for the ‘Australia client resident under 183 days’ test.

    Full year non-residents should:

    Include:

    • interest and unfranked dividend income for the individual tax return at:
      • gross interest item 10 label L
      • unfranked dividends item 11 label S.
       

    If the unfranked dividend income is not under an international agreement, then a rate of 30% is applied automatically by our system.

    If the rate is 15%, then include either your client's:

    • overseas postal or residential address
    • country of residence.

    Private health insurance

    Leave out:

    • Where an Australian private health insurance fund name is not included on the drop-down list, select Other – ATO use only. It's not necessary to include details in additional Information.
    • As overseas funds are not eligible for the tax offset, do not include these details or any reference to them or make a private health insurance rebate (PHIR) claim.

    Rental information

    Leave out:

    • information the rental property did not derive an income
    • information the rental property is now the owner’s own home
    • the date the rental property was sold
    • general information regarding rental income, expenses or property.

    Rental information can be included if there is specific information not shown on the tax return or the Rental property schedule that affects the calculation of that specific return.

    Last modified: 29 May 2017QC 45697