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  • How self-assessment affects most individuals

    Attention

    Warning:

    This information may not apply to the current year. Check the content carefully to ensure it is applicable to your circumstances.

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    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 (NAT 4106-3.2001). If you lodge your tax return before you receive your private ruling, be aware that the ruling may alter the accuracy of your tax return.

    The ATO publishes on its website all private rulings issued. What we publish will not contain anything which could identify you.

    You can ask for a review of a private ruling decision if you disagree with it, even if you have not received your assessment. Details of the review procedures are sent to you when the private ruling decision is made. For more information on private rulings, visit the ATO website at www.ato.gov.au.

    Last modified: 11 Dec 2019QC 16578