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ATO reminds taxpayers of tax deadline, extends working from home shortcut

More than $19.5 billion has been refunded to more than 7.5 million taxpayers, the ATO announced, while reminding taxpayers that this is the last week to either lodge their tax return or register with a tax agent.

ATO reminds taxpayers of tax deadline, extends working from home shortcut
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  • Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
  • October 29, 2020
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So far this tax time, more than $19.5 billion has been refunded to more than 7.5 million taxpayers, with NSW leading the pack with more than 2.7 million returns lodged, followed by Victoria at 2.1 million and Queensland at 1.8 million.

“The average lodgment through our myTax service takes under 30 minutes, with most of your income and personal details automatically included in your return. All you need to do is confirm your details are correct and up-to-date and add any deductions," said assistant commissioner Karen Foat. 

“While much of your information will already be in your return, we recommend taking the extra minute to get your return right. Things like not updating bank account details, forgetting to include all income, or claiming deductions you are not entitled to can result in your refund being delayed."

The ATO is also asking taxpayers to be aware of how their work-related expenses might be different this year.

"Of course, as expected, we’ve seen more people than ever make claims for working from home expenses," Ms Foat cautioned. 

"Unfortunately, we are seeing a small number of people not taking care to adjust their claims to their altered circumstances or making claims without sufficient evidence. Not being able to support your claim if asked, may delay your refund and result in a penalty in the most serious cases."

With a number of taxpayers yet to lodge, Ms Foat explained that those planning to lodge with a tax agent may have a later lodgement date, but should contact their agent and get on their books now.

"If you are putting off your taxes because of a potential debt – don’t worry. Contact us if you need help to understand what support options may be available,” Ms Foat said.

“You still need to lodge your tax returns on time if you can, even if you can't pay by the due date. This will show us that you're aware of your obligations and doing your best to meet them. Once we understand your situation we can discuss whether a deferral or a payment plan is best for you.

“Remember, the earlier you seek help, the easier it will be to get back on track.”

Working from home shortcut extended

Having recognised the situation in relation to COVID-19, the ATO has extended the 80 cents per hour ‘shortcut method’ to calculate working from home expenses until 31 December 2020.

Taxpayers wishing to use this method to calculate their working from home expenses, are being told to keep a record of the number of hours they work from home.

"If you are unable to lodge on time due to the impact of COVID-19, we encourage you to contact us or speak with a registered tax advisor as early as possible," Ms Foat concluded. 

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