Checking information provided to us

The laws give us time to review information you have given us. In relation to income tax, for most people we have two years from the date of their assessment; for some others it is four years. For other taxes it is four years. Where there is evasion or fraud there is no time limit.

If you give us information and then realise it is wrong, let us know as quickly as possible.

If correcting the mistake means we owe you money we will pay it to you. We will also pay you any interest you are entitled to.

If you come forward to tell us about a mistake which means you owe us money, we will ask you to pay the money and may also charge you interest. However, in most cases we will reduce any penalty that may apply.

In some cases, time limits set by the law will not allow us to make adjustments.

We match the information you give us in tax returns and other documents with information we get from:

  • other government agencies
  • employers
  • financial institutions.

We also conduct audits and reviews to verify information.

Sometimes we ask you to provide evidence to support what you have told us.

Note: You are still responsible for the accuracy of the information you give us even if someone else, including a registered tax agent or BAS agent, helps you to prepare a tax return or other document.

Community information

People sometimes tell us that other members of the community are not meeting their tax obligations. We consider this information, although the law does not allow us to tell the person who provided it about the outcome of any enquiries.

We treat this information, including the identity of the people who provide it, in strict confidence.

If we find a discrepancy

If we find a discrepancy when we check your information, we give you a chance to explain it. In straightforward cases, if the information is incorrect or you have omitted income that should have been included, we make adjustments.

In other cases, we take your explanation into account when we work out if the information you have provided is accurate. We accept that what you tell us is correct - or that you believe it to be correct - unless facts, logic, circumstances, plausibility or our interpretation of the law indicate otherwise.

If we still think the information you gave us is wrong, we make adjustments. We explain our decision and tell you how you can have the decision reviewed.

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When we make an adjustment, you may be charged a penalty. You may also have to pay an interest charge. In calculating any penalty, we take into account whether you took reasonable care in providing us with complete and accurate information.

Taking reasonable care means taking the amount of care that a reasonable person in your circumstances would take to meet their obligations. It means - for example, you must try your best to lodge a correct tax return or statement.

There are also heavy penalties if you deliberately, intentionally or fraudulently disregard your obligations. In many cases you can be prosecuted.

See also:

    Last modified: 05 Jan 2016QC 16682