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How self-assessment affects most individuals
Self-assessment means the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) uses the information you give on your tax return to work out your refund or tax bill. You are required by law to make sure you have shown all your assessable income and claimed only the deductions and tax offsets to which you are entitled.
What are your responsibilities?
Even if someone else-including a tax agent-helps you to prepare your tax return, you are still legally responsible for the accuracy of the information.
What if you lodge an incorrect tax return?
Our systems continually check for missing or wrong information. We have audit programs designed to detect where taxpayers have not declared all their assessable income or where they have incorrectly claimed deductions or tax offsets. If you become aware that your tax return is incorrect, you must contact us straightaway.
Initiatives to complement self-assessment
There are a number of initiatives administered by the ATO which complement self-assessment. Examples include:
- a change in penalty provisions so that if you take reasonable care with your tax affairs, you will not receive a penalty for honest mistakes-but please note that a general interest charge on omitted income or overclaimed deductions and tax offsets could still be payable
- private rulings
- your entitlement to interest on early payment or overpayment of a tax debt
- the process of applying for an amendment if you find you left something out of your tax return.
Do you need to ask for a private ruling?
If you have a concern about the way a tax law applies to your personal tax affairs, you may want to ask for a private ruling.
A private ruling will relate just to your situation. Write to the ATO describing your situation in detail and ask for advice. To do this, complete an Application for a private ruling for individuals. If you lodge your tax return before you receive your private ruling, be aware that the ruling may alter the accuracy of your return.
You can ask for a review of a private ruling decision if you disagree with it, even if you have not received your assessment. The tax office that made the ruling can give you more information about review procedures.
Copies of publications
To get a copy of any publication referred to in this book:
- visit our internet site at www.ato.gov.au
Publications referred to in this book include:
- Personal investors guide to capital gains tax (NAT4152-5.2002)
- How to claim a foreign tax credit (NAT 2338-6.2002)
- TaxPack 2002 (NAT 0976-6.2002)
- TaxPack 2002 supplement (NAT 2677-6.2002)
- Taxation Determination TD 98/11 Income tax: capital gains: when are shares acquired, and instalments paid, under the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and Telstra public share offers?
- Refund of imputation credits- application and instructions for individuals (NAT 4105-6.2002)
- Capital gains tax register: a new way of keeping records (NAT 2684-7.1998)
Reader feedback helps us to improve the information we provide. If you have any comments to make about this publication, please write to:
Public Assistance Branch
Australian Taxation Office
PO Box 9990
CIVIC SQUARE ACT 2608
As this is a publications area only, any tax matters will be passed on to a technical area; otherwise you can ring our Personal Tax Infoline on 13 28 61 for help.