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ATO ‘making tax easier’: Here’s a list of support pathways

The ATO has reiterated its support for businesses and individuals still reeling from the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and natural disasters.

ATO ‘making tax easier’: Here’s a list of support pathways
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  • Staff Reporter
  • June 23, 2021
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The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is working on “making tax time easier”, with assistant commissioner Tim Loh reassuring taxpayers that no matter their circumstances, the ATO has a range of information and support options to make tax easy.

“Whether you’ve received JobKeeper, JobSeeker, COVID support or disaster assistance payments, accessed your super early, or had your records damaged, destroyed or lost, the ATO is here to give you the tools you need to get it right this tax time,” Mr Loh said in a recent statement.

Among a number of leniencies, the ATO has assured that it will accept reasonable claims without evidence for those that have had their tax record lost, damaged or destroyed in a natural disaster.

“We know that many taxpayers are facing lasting impacts left in the wake of natural disasters. If you find your records have been lost or destroyed, whether in cyclones, floods or bushfires, we are here to help,” Mr Loh said.

“If you have a myGov account linked to the ATO, you’ll be able to view some of your records, including income tax returns, income statements and previous notices of assessments. If you lodge through a registered tax agent, they can also access these documents on your behalf.”

Other support pathways include:

JobKeeper

With JobKeeper payments received as an employee set to be included in income statements as either salary and wages or as an allowance, the ATO is reminding taxpayers that they can access their income statements in ATO online services via myGov.

These should be finalised by 14 July.

“If you’ve received JobKeeper payments from your employer, you don’t need to do anything different. We will automatically include this information from your income statement in your online tax return for you,” Mr Loh said.

He noted, however, that sole traders who have received the JobKeeper payment on behalf of their business will need to include the payment as assessable income for the business.

JobSeeker

Those that have received JobSeeker payments, will see this information included in their tax return at the Government Payments and Allowances question once it’s ready.

“If you are lodging before this information is there, you will need to add it yourself. Leaving out income will slow your return,” the ATO advised.

Stand down payments

“You may have received a one-off or regular payment from your employer after being temporarily stood down due to COVID-19. These payments are taxable and should appear in your income statement and will be automatically included in your return,” Mr Loh said.

Taxpayers that aren’t sure whether these amounts have been included in their income statement, are being advised to “check with your employer”.

COVID-19 disaster payment for people affected by restrictions

The ATO has confirmed that the Australian government (through Services Australia) COVID-19 disaster payment for people affected by restrictions is taxable.

“When lodging your return, you must ensure you include this income,” Mr Loh said.

The tax treatment of other assistance payments can, however, vary. The ATO website outlines how a range of disaster payments impact your return.

The ATO website also includes guidance on COVID payments, including the taxable pandemic leave disaster payment.

Early access to superannuation

“If you accessed your super early under the special arrangements due to COVID-19, you do not need to declare this in your tax return,” Mr Loh said.

“Any eligible amounts withdrawn under this program are tax-free.”

Other ATO support

Recognising that some taxpayers may need more help than other, Mr Loh noted that everyone is advised to lodge on time, including those that may not be able to pay.

“We understand that unexpected life events can make it hard to pay your tax,” Mr Loh said.

“If you can’t pay your tax bill in full, the best thing to do is get in touch. It’s never too late to ask for help.”

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