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Important information 2011

Provides important information and instructions to complete and lodge your tax return.

Last updated 25 June 2011

Our commitment to you

We are committed to providing you with accurate, consistent and clear information to help you understand your rights and entitlements and meet your obligations.

If you follow our information in this publication and it turns out to be incorrect, or it is misleading and you make a mistake as a result, we must still apply the law correctly. If that means you owe us money, we must ask you to pay it but we will not charge you a penalty. Also, if you acted reasonably and in good faith we will not charge you interest.

If you make an honest mistake in trying to follow our information in this publication and you owe us money as a result, we will not charge you a penalty. However, we will ask you to pay the money, and we may also charge you interest. 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 feel that this publication does not fully cover your circumstances, or you are unsure how it applies to you, you can seek further assistance from us.

We regularly revise our publications to take account of any changes to the law, so make sure that you have the latest information.

This publication was current at May 2011.

Who can complete your tax return?

You can get someone else to complete your tax return for you.

  • A family member or friend can help you but they cannot charge you a fee. You must still sign it and you are still legally responsible for the accuracy of the information.
  • Tax Help is a free service provided by community volunteers trained to help people on low incomes prepare their tax returns.

Lodge your tax return by 31 October 2011

You have until 31 October 2011 to lodge your tax return, unless we have allowed you to lodge it late, or you have a later due date when a registered tax agent prepares your tax return.

If you cannot lodge your tax return by 31 October 2011 contact us as soon as possible, and certainly before 31 October 2011, to find out whether you can lodge at a later date.

Failure to lodge on time penalty

We may apply a penalty for failure to lodge on time if your tax return is not lodged by the due date.

Generally, we apply a penalty of $110 for every 28 days (or part thereof) that your tax return is overdue, to a maximum of $550. We may apply the penalty even where there is no tax payable.

However, our policy is not to apply a penalty where:

  • you lodge your tax return voluntarily, and
  • no tax is payable.

Where to send your tax return

Within Australia

If you decide to lodge a paper tax return, you can use the pre-addressed envelope provided to send it to us, or send it to:

Australian Taxation Office
GPO Box 9845

Do not replace the words IN YOUR CAPITAL CITY with the name of your capital city and its postcode - they are not needed because of a special agreement with Australia Post.

From overseas

You can lodge your tax return online using e-tax. Most refunds are issued within 14 days and you have the option to use the pre-filling service which downloads information reported to the Tax Office directly to your tax return.

Alternatively, you can lodge a paper tax return and use the pre-addressed envelope to send it to us. Change the address by crossing out IN YOUR CAPITAL CITY and replace with SYDNEY NSW 2001, AUSTRALIA.

It will assist us if you cross out the barcode above the address.

If you made a mistake or need to amend your tax return


Your right to complain

If you are dissatisfied with a particular decision we have made, or with one of our services or actions, you have the right to complain.

We recommend that you first try to resolve the issue with the tax officer you have been dealing with, or phone the number you have been given.

If you are not satisfied, talk to the tax officer's manager.

If you are still not satisfied, phone our complaints line on 1800 199 010.

You can also make a complaint:

  • by writing to:

Australian Taxation Office
PO Box 1271
Albury  NSW  2640

The Commonwealth Ombudsman

If you are not satisfied with our decisions or actions, you can raise the matter with the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman's office can investigate most complaints relating to tax administration and may recommend that we provide a solution or remedy to your problem. Investigations are independent, private, informal and free of charge.

You can contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman's office by:

The Commonwealth Ombudsman
GPO Box 442
Canberra  ACT  2601

The Privacy Commissioner

The Privacy Commissioner receives complaints under the Privacy Act 1988 and the tax file number guidelines issued under the Act. You can contact the Privacy Commissioner by:

The Privacy Commissioner
GPO Box 5218
Sydney  NSW  2001

Privacy and access to information

Collecting your tax information

We are authorised by the Taxation Administration Act 1953 to ask for your tax file number (TFN). It is not an offence not to provide your TFN. However, your assessment may be delayed if you do not provide your TFN.

We are authorised by the taxation and superannuation laws, including the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936, the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997,A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 and the Superannuation (Unclaimed Money and Lost Members) Act 199 to ask for the other information on this tax return. We need this information to help us to administer the taxation and superannuation laws.

Who can we give your tax information to?

We can give your tax information to some government agencies and non-government organisations specified in the taxation and superannuation laws, for example:

  • benefit payment agencies such as Centrelink, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, and the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
  • law enforcement agencies such as state and federal police
  • other agencies such as the Child Support Agency (CSA) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics
  • superannuation funds.

This disclosure is usually to check eligibility for government benefits, for law enforcement purposes, for collecting statistics or for the purpose of reuniting lost members with their superannuation accounts. The CSA may use the information you give us to assess or collect child support. If you receive a refund cheque with your notice of assessment, we also provide details of your refund to the Reserve Bank of Australia to assist in clearing your cheque. Information you provide on your tax return may also be used to update the Australian Business Register (ABR).

We can also disclose your information in performing our duties under the tax law. Otherwise we can only give your information to you or someone appointed to act for you.

Australian Business Register

The Commissioner of Taxation is the Registrar of the ABR. We may use information you provide on your tax return to update the ABR. For example we may use the information to update your trading name, industry classification and main business address.

To help business and government interact more easily the Registrar may disclose information from the ABR to other Commonwealth, state, territory and local government agencies.

You can find details of the government agencies regularly receiving information from the ABR on the internet at Link or you can phone 13 28 66 between 8:00am and 6:00pm Monday to Friday and ask for a list of agencies to be emailed, faxed or posted to you.

These agencies may use ABR information for purposes authorised by their legislation or for carrying out their other functions. Examples of possible uses include registration, reporting, compliance, validation and updating of databases.

How do we protect your tax information?

The tax laws contain secrecy provisions that prohibit any officer of the Australian Taxation Office (including employees and contractors) or any other government agency from improperly accessing or disclosing any information you provide on your tax return. These provisions only allow officers to disclose your tax information in the performance of their duties and in certain other specified circumstances.

In addition, the Privacy Act 1988 protects personal information held by federal government agencies. It also protects TFNs, no matter who holds them.