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  • How lodgment deferrals work

    Exceptional or unforeseen circumstances may affect your ability to lodge by a due date on behalf of your clients and a lodgment deferral may help. You can submit a deferral request by completing the current online application and lodging it through Online services for agents (OSFA).

    Lodgment deferrals extend the due date for lodgment of a document. They provide additional time to lodge without incurring a failure to lodge on time (FTL) penalty.

    While it may take more time to process your requests at peak times, we generally approve deferral requests, unless special circumstances apply.

    On this page:

    Agent assessed lodgment deferrals include payment deferral

    Approved agent assessed deferral requests will have an automatic payment deferral to the deferred lodgment due date. This does not apply to:

    • individuals and trusts – payment will be due 21 days after the issue of the notice of assessment of the deferred return
    • FBT returns – payment will be due on 25 June if return lodged via the practitioner lodgment service, or 21 May if return lodged by paper.

    Next step:

    Eligibility for deferrals

    You don't need to request a deferral if either of the following apply:

    • The lodgment or payment due date falls on a weekend or public holiday – lodgment or payment may be made the next business day.
    • The due date is 15 May for income tax returns, as a further extension of time to lodge and pay to 5 June is already provided in the concessional lodgment program.

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

    You may not need to request a deferral if you are affected by a general or geographical issue that prevents you from lodging on time. Examples include natural disasters and widespread system outages. In these instances, we will inform you that you do not need to make your own deferral request.

    You can request a lodgment deferral for:

    • tax returns
    • fringe benefits tax returns
    • monthly and quarterly activity statements
    • annual GST returns
    • PAYG payment summary annual reports
    • taxable payments annual reports.

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

    We will continue to monitor agents’ lodgment performance and use of deferrals. We may contact those who have higher levels of non-compliance or are high users of deferrals to understand the reasons for the requests.

    Lodgment deferral requests for large businesses

    Lodgment deferral requests for large withholders should not be submitted via OSFA. Instead, contact our large business support team to discuss your client’s circumstances.

    Lodgment deferral requests that are submitted for significant global entities or large business, including excise taxpayers, will be forwarded to our large business specialists for consideration. You may be contacted by them if you request a lodgment deferral for one of these entities.

    See also:

    Deferrals for new or re-engaged clients with overdue returns

    If you engage a client with overdue tax returns, you can make a request for additional time to lodge their overdue returns.

    We can provide you with a deferral for your client's current year return. We will also consider delaying activities to secure lodgment on the overdue prior year returns.

    This deferral type applies only to tax returns.

    Next step:

    Applying for deferrals

    Before you submit a request

    Make sure your request is consistent with:

    There are three types of lodgment deferrals:

    • agent assessed deferrals
    • ATO assessed deferrals – requests that do not meet the criteria for agent assessed deferrals
    • new or re-engaged clients with overdue returns.

    We aim to process your request quickly. However, during peak lodgment periods it may take up to 28 days to finalise requests. We generally approve deferral requests unless special circumstances apply.

    You can request lodgment deferrals over the phone for up to five clients for the following obligations:

    • Monthly obligations – up to two weeks (14 days)
    • Quarterly obligations – up to three weeks (21 days)
    • Annual obligations – up to four weeks (28 days)
    • Call 13 72 86 and use fast key code 1 3 2.
    • All other requests must continue to be lodged via OSFA.

    Requests for Lodgment deferral for large withholders, significant global entities or large business, including excise taxpayers, cannot be completed over the phone, instead, contact our large business support team to discuss your client’s circumstances.

    See also:

    Common errors that delay processing are:

    • not using the current application form – use either an Agent assessed deferral, an ATO assessed deferral or Deferrals for new or re-engaged clients with overdue returns application form
    • not completing the application in full – include all relevant information to streamline the process
    • not attaching the form to a secure mail message online.

    When submitting a request for deferral:

    • save a copy of the form in Excel format and attach it to the appropriate secure mail message
    • list multiple clients on a single form, however you must lodge separate deferral request forms for each lodgment obligation type listed.

    Our decision

    Most requests for deferral will be approved and processed. You will receive notification in OSFA. Your deferred due dates will show in:

    • OSFA
    • practitioner lodgment service client report.

    However, if we:

    • don't have all the necessary information to process your request, we may contact you
    • decline or vary your request, you will receive notification in OSFA.

    A deferral request may be declined if:

    • the client has a record of late lodgments, including poor compliance with deferred due dates
    • we have commenced lodgment compliance action with your client
    • you are not listed on our systems as the authorised agent to act on the client's behalf
    • you request a deferral from the 5 June concessional lodgment date.

    A lodgment deferral request for a significant global entity or large business, including large withholder or excise payer, may be declined by our large business specialists. If so, you will be notified by them.

    Last modified: 30 Aug 2021QC 34581