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The #1 reason that’s slowing down your tax return

Last updated 5 July 2021

Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh said that leaving out income is the number one reason tax returns and refunds are delayed in the middle of July.

“We know people are eager to get their hands on their tax refund, as we had over 172,000 individual 2021 tax lodgments on 1 July. We understand the rush to get a refund as fast as possible but racing to lodge your return can often lead to easily avoidable mistakes.”

“Waiting until the end of July to lodge allows the ATO to add information into your tax return from employers, banks, private health insurers, and government agencies into your tax return. Agents can access this information too,” Mr Loh said.

Taxpayers should check that employers have finalised their income statement and it is tax ready before lodgment. This is usually done by 14 July, but this year, some employers impacted by COVID-19 have until 31 July.

This information will be available whether you choose to lodge through myTax (via ATO online services) or with a registered tax agent. It is important to make sure that you include any income that hasn’t been prefilled.

“By allowing more time, your return will be easy, speedy, and importantly, more accurate. By avoiding mistakes, we’ll be able to process your refund faster,” Mr Loh said.

“Four out of five people get refunds at tax time. While we usually get these out in under two weeks, it may take longer if we need to address any mistakes and potentially adjust your return.”

Each year, we typically adjust more than 230,000 returns using third-party data. Many people that lodge before this data is available fail to include all their income and as a result need to repay part or all of their refund.

The next most common delay to paying a tax refund is that we simply don’t know where to send the tax refund. That’s because, in the rush to lodge, taxpayers can forget to check and update their bank account details.

“To avoid errors and delays, we ask that you double check all the information in your return before hitting submit,” Mr Loh said.

Remember, if you have lodged your return online, it can take the ATO up to two weeks to process. The easiest way to check the status of your return is through ATO online services (accessed through myGov) or using the ATO app. There is no way to speed up this process, even if you call us within the two weeks.

It’s important to remember that people have until the end of October to either lodge their return themselves or get on the books of a registered tax agent.

More information

To find out what income you must declare, visit Income you must declare

To find out how to check the progress of your return, visit Progress of return

For everything else tax time, visit

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