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How lodgment deferrals work

How we grant deferrals, the types of eligible obligations and when you don't need to apply for a lodgment deferral.

Last updated 25 April 2024

What is a lodgment deferral?

A lodgment deferral gives you extra time to lodge a document without incurring a failure to lodge on time (FTL) penalty.

Exceptional or unforeseen circumstances

Lodgment deferrals can help if you or your clients experience exceptional or unforeseen circumstances which impact your ability to lodge on time.

Your request should be consistent with PS LA 2011/15 Lodgment obligations, due dates and deferrals.

We monitor lodgment performance and use of deferrals. We may contact agents who have higher levels of non-compliance or are high users of deferrals so we can understand the reasons for their requests.

Eligible obligations

You can request a lodgment deferral for the following obligations.

Types of lodgment obligations

Lodgment obligation

Tax agents

BAS agents

Tax returns



Fringe benefits tax returns



Monthly and quarterly activity statements, but not:

  • quarterly PAYG and GST instalment notices form R, S and T
  • annual PAYG instalment notices form N




Annual GST returns



PAYG payment summary annual reports



Taxable payments annual reports



You cannot request a lodgment deferral for an activity statement before we have generated it and made it available online.

When you don't need to apply

You don't need to request a deferral if:

  • the lodgment or payment due date falls on a weekend or public holiday as you can lodge or pay on the next business day
  • the due date is 15 May for tax returns, as you already have an extension of time to lodge and pay to 5 June (a concessional due date in the lodgment program).
  • you are affected by a general or geographical issue (such as a natural disaster or widespread system outage) and we have informed you that you don't need to request deferrals.

You can't request a deferral from the 5 June concessional lodgment date because it is not a due date under the lodgment program.

How to apply

You can apply for lodgment deferrals using the Reports and forms menu in Online services for agents.

If the problems you are experiencing are affecting your whole practice, you can request a supported lodgment program. We will work with you to tailor solutions and help you get your lodgment program back on track.

How we decide

We consider lodgment deferral requests in accordance with PS LA 2011/15 Lodgment obligations, due dates and deferrals.

The PSLA sets out the following deferral types for registered agents:

Agent assessed

Your lodgment deferral request may be agent assessed if:

  • the request is for an existing client
  • it is the first deferral request for this obligation
  • it is no more than 3 business days after the original lodgment due date
  • you or your client need no more than the default timeframes – a maximum of
    • 14 days for monthly obligations
    • 21 days for quarterly obligations
    • 28 days for annual obligations.

Agent assessed deferrals do not apply to:

  • tax returns for
    • large and medium enterprises due 31 January
    • company and super fund substituted accounting period (SAP) clients
  • taxable payments annual reports
  • payment summary annual reports
  • significant global entities or large business entities.

If your agent assessed deferral request is approved, the payment due date automatically extends to the deferred lodgment due date. This does not apply:

  • to FBT returns as the payment due date remains as  
    • 25 June for returns lodged online
    • 21 May for returns lodged by paper
  • if the lodgment is for individual tax returns or trust returns as these have a payment due date 21 days after the issue of the notice of assessment.

ATO assessed

Your lodgment deferral request may be ATO assessed if:

  • you do not meet the agent assessed or new or re-engaged client deferral criteria
  • your request exceeds the agent assessed deferral timeframes
  • you submit the request after the lodgment due date
  • it's for a second or subsequent deferral request
  • your client has had a lodgment prosecution resulting in a revised lodgment date
  • there are exceptional or unforeseen circumstances that are outside you or your client's control, which require a full explanation.

New or re-engaged clients

Your lodgment deferral request may be new or re-engaged if you take on new clients or re-engage existing or previous clients with overdue income tax returns.

We can provide you with a lodgment only deferral for your client's current year return. We will also consider delaying compliance action to secure lodgment of overdue prior year returns.

The period of additional time allowed for both the lodgment deferral and the delaying of action on overdue prior year lodgments is 42 days (6 weeks) from the date of request.

Example: lodgment deferral for new client with overdue tax returns

In November 2023, Stephen is approached by a new client with overdue prior year tax returns for 2020, 2021 and 2022. The 2023 tax return was due on 31 October 2023.

Stephen requests additional time to allow him to complete and lodge the overdue prior and current year returns. He does this by selecting 'New or re-engaged client' as the deferral reason when using the lodgment deferral function in Online services for agents.

Stephen is granted a deferral for the 2023 return for 42 days from the date of his request and can lodge the current year return on time.

The ATO also agrees to suspend compliance action on the overdue prior year returns for the same 42 days, while Stephen brings the client up to date.

Stephen's client is still liable for any late lodgment penalties and interest that are applicable for their overdue 2020, 2021 and 2022 tax returns.

End of example

Only select this lodgment deferral reason if the current year income tax return has a lodgment due date of 31 October. You can select a different reason if:

  • your client has any other lodgment due date for their current year return
  • you need more than 6 weeks to lodge their overdue tax returns
  • your client has overdue obligations that are not tax returns.

On-time lodgment performance

If your client has more years of overdue returns to lodge, remember that only the current year tax return is included in the lodgment program on-time performance measurement.

Your on-time lodgment performance will only be affected if you lodge the current year return after the due date or deferred due date.

Declined or varied requests

We may decline your deferral request if:

  • the client has a record of late lodgments, including poor compliance with deferred due dates
  • we have started lodgment compliance action with your client
  • you haven't provided sufficient supporting information for us to assess your request.

Our large business specialists review and may decline lodgment deferral requests for significant global entities or large business entities. If so, they will notify you.

If you are not happy with our decision, you can ask us to review a deferral decision.