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  • Help with paying

    If you can't pay on time, we can help you.

    You still need to lodge your activity statements and tax returns on time, even if you can't pay by the due date. You'll avoid a penalty for failing to lodge on time. And, it will show us that you're aware of your obligations and doing your best to meet them.

    Find out about:

    See also:

    Payment plan

    If you can't pay by the due date, you may be able to set up a payment plan to pay in instalments. You need to consider how much you can pay so you can meet each ongoing payment amount, and future obligations.

    If you're trying to do the right thing, we're committed to understanding your situation and helping you where possible.

    In some instances, we may need to know more about your financial situation and your circumstances. This is so we can work with you to set up a manageable payment plan that suits both of us. Businesses may need to show that their business is viable.

    Even if you've made a payment plan to pay late or by instalments, interest will accrue on the unpaid debt.

    Note: If you default on a payment plan, we may ask you to make a higher upfront payment or to make payments by direct debit, or both, before we agree to a new plan.

    Next step:

    If you want to discuss your options with us, phone us on 13 11 42 during our operating hours between 8.00am and 6.00pm, Monday to Friday.

    See also:

    ASIC's MoneySmart website has helpful resources on  

    Setting up a payment plan

    You can use our payment plan estimator to work out a plan that meets your circumstances. You need to take into account the payment plan conditions and how quickly you can pay off the debt, including how much interest you'll be charged.

    Individuals and sole traders

    The easiest way to set up a payment plan is by using our online services, which are available 24 hours a day seven days a week. To use our online services, you'll need a myGov account linked to the ATO.

    You may be eligible to use our online services to set up a payment plan if you have an income tax bill or activity statement amount of $100,000 or less.

    You may also be able to use our automated phone service to arrange a late payment or pay by instalments. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    If you can't enter a payment plan through our automated phone service, you’ll be connected to a person who will help you during our operating hours, between 8.00am and 6.00pm, Monday to Friday.

    You will need your Australian business number (ABN) or tax file number (TFN) and the full details of your outstanding amount to set up a payment plan.

    Next steps:

    See also:

    Businesses

    If you're a business and your debt is $100,000 or less, you can propose a payment plan:

    • online through the Business Portal
    • through your registered tax agent or BAS agent
    • by phoning our automated phone service on 13 72 26, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    If you can't enter a payment plan using our automated phone service, you'll be connected to a person who will help you during our operating hours, between 8.00am and 6.00pm, Monday to Friday.

    You will need your Australian business number (ABN) or tax file number (TFN) and the full details of your outstanding amount to set up a payment plan.

    If you have an activity statement debt, you may be eligible for an interest-free payment plan.

    Next steps:

    See also:

    Debts over $100,000

    If your tax debt is more than $100,000, phone us on 13 11 42 during our operating hours between 8.00am and 6.00pm, Monday to Friday to discuss your options.

    You will need your Australian business number (ABN) or tax file number (TFN) and the full details of your outstanding amount to set up a payment plan.

    Registered agents

    If you are a registered tax or BAS agent, you can use our Online services for agents to view or set up a payment plan for your client.

    You can only make a payment plan if your client:

    • has an existing debit amount under $100,000 (total balance or overdue amounts)
    • has no payment plan for that debt
    • hasn't defaulted on a payment plan for the relevant account more than twice in the past two years.

    Secured payment plan

    If we can't reach an agreement with you about paying your debt, we may consider accepting an offer of security where you request that we defer the time of payment of a debt, or where you are seeking to pay a debt by instalments.

    Our preferred securities are:

    • a registered mortgage over freehold property
    • an unconditional bank guarantee from an Australian bank.

    See also:

    • PS LA 2011/14 General debt collection powers and principles
    • Phone us on 13 11 42 during our operating hours between 8.00am and 6.00pm, Monday to Friday.

    Disasters and serious hardship

    Natural disasters

    If you've been affected by a natural disaster, such as a bushfire, storm or flood, we'll work with you to help you sort out your tax affairs when you're ready. See Dealing with disasters or phone us on 1800 806 218.

    See also:

    Serious hardship

    We may be able to release you from some or all of the debt. If paying your tax debt would cause you serious hardship, for example, you wouldn't be able to provide food and accommodation for you or your family, contact us to discuss your circumstances.

    See also:

    HELP and SFSS

    If your tax notice of assessment includes a compulsory Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) or Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS) repayment that would cause serious hardship, you can apply to defer it.

    If there are other special reasons you believe you shouldn’t make a compulsory repayment, you can also apply to defer it.

    Next step:

    Help for businesses

    There are a number of online resources and services you can use to stay on top of your tax situation:

    We offer free, confidential and tailored support services aimed at keeping your business on track, or helping you get back on track.

    Interest-free payment plans for activity statement debts

    If you're a small business with an activity statement debt, you may be able to pay it off interest-free over 12 months.

    Eligibility

    You may be eligible for an interest-free payment plan if your business:

    • has an annual turnover of less than $2 million
    • has a recent activity statement debt of $50,000 or less that has been outstanding overdue for no longer than 12 months
    • has a good payment and lodgment compliance history, including  
      • no more than one payment plan default within the last 12 months
      • no outstanding activity statement lodgments
       
    • is unable to obtain finance (such as a loan) through normal business channels
    • is able to demonstrate ongoing viability.

    How it works

    You have to agree to a payment plan that allows the debt to be paid by direct debit within 12 months. Even if you receive a letter stating that interest will apply, it will be remitted as long as you maintain your payment plan.

    While you're paying off the debt:

    • you can check your running account balance by logging into the Business PortalExternal Link or phoning us on 13 28 66 (8.00am to 6.00pm, Monday to Friday)
    • registered agents can check the running account balance by using Online services for agents, or phoning 13 72 86 (Fast Key Code 1 2 5 1).

    You must meet all of your other tax payment and lodgment obligations.

    Note: If you default on the plan, the interest-free period will end immediately and the payment plan may be cancelled.

    If you're already in a payment plan

    You can ask us to change your existing payment plan to an interest-free payment plan if you satisfy the eligibility criteria.

    If your request is approved, we’ll cancel your previous plan. The interest-free period will start from the date you enter into the new plan.

    If your debt is with an external collection agency, you’ll need to negotiate this with them.

    Next steps:

    • Use the payment plan estimator to work out a suitable payment plan.
    • Phone us on 13 28 66 (8.00am to 6.00pm, Monday to Friday) to set up the payment plan.

    Assessing business viability

    If you're negotiating with us about a debt, we may require you to show that your business is viable. When assessing a business's viability, we look at its ability to pay its debts and meet ongoing commitments. The assessment considers a range of indicators, including:

    • gross margin
    • cash flow
    • asset/liability position (including working capital)
    • liquidity
    • debtor/creditor position
    • availability of funding.

    If you're asked to demonstrate the viability of the business, you'll need to provide the following information within an agreed timeframe:

    • a proposal to pay all amounts owed to us in the shortest possible timeframe, while allowing all future tax obligations to be met by the due date
    • details on how the debt arose
    • steps taken to mitigate the debt (for example, loan applications)
    • the most recent statement for each bank or financial institution account held
    • the following documents for the year to date and the two previous financial years  
      • detailed profit and loss statement or statement of financial performance
      • detailed balance sheet or statement of financial position
       
    • details of any overdraft or loan facilities, including term loans, hire purchase and leasing facilities (include the balances owing, the monthly repayment amount for each debt commitment and the limit for overdrafts)
    • aged creditors listing
    • aged debtors listing
    • any other relevant information that may help us assess your proposal.

    Next step:

    Send financial documentation with your ABN and company name on all documents to us, using one of the following methods  

    See also:

    Help for registered agents

    We have the following online resources for registered agents:

    Next step:

    • Registered agents can phone 13 72 86 to discuss their client's situation – use our fast key code guide to work out how to get in touch with the right area.
    Last modified: 20 Feb 2020QC 50299