How to beat the ATO’s October 31 deadline for tax returns

Oct 30, 2020

Tax time ends tomorrow and many Australians must act fast to avoid potentially being slugged with $1000-plus penalties.

More than 4.5 million individuals have not yet lodged their 2019-20 tax returns, and the Australian Taxation Office says the 7.5 million who have received refunds so far got back more than $2600 on average.

The official deadline for lodgement is October 31, but there are ways for tardy taxpayers to avoid getting stung.

Firstly, the due date for individual tax returns this year is actually Monday November 2 because October 31 falls on a weekend.

And secondly, putting yourself on a registered tax agent’s client list in the next couple of days can potentially push back your tax return deadline to May 2021.

Mr Taxman founder Adrian Raftery says the agent or accountant will need your full name, date of birth and Tax File Number.

A majority of Australians receive a tax refund so it’s wise to claim back your cash as soon as possible.

“It’s your money so get it in now,” Dr Raftery says.

“Have your cash ready for a good Christmas.”

Raftery says when people lodge late but are due a refund, generally the ATO doesn’t charge late lodgement fees “but they have the capacity to”.

“If you owe tax, the interest payments and late lodgement penalties start climbing,” he says.

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand senior tax advocate Susan Franks says the ATO has already pre-filled information on people’s tax returns including wages, interest and dividends.

“You will need to confirm that these details are true and correct, that you have reported all your income and have the necessary records to support your deductions,” she says.

“If your tax return isn’t lodged by the due date, you could receive a late lodgement penalty which, if left for too long, can equate to a maximum of $1110.”

Franks says people struggling with COVID financial impacts should contact the ATO or their accountant “rather than hoping the ATO goes away”.

“If for whatever reason life gets in the way and you miss the deadline, the important thing to do is to speak with the ATO as soon as possible,” she says.

Article published here by the Hera;d Sun on 30 October 2020


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