ATO urges taxpayers to lodge their returns as deadline approaches
The Australian Tax Office is urging people to take advantage of potential refunds by lodging their return or engaging a tax agent by Thursday 31 October.
As we enter the final fortnight of tax time, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) is encouraging taxpayers to lodge their returns by 31 October, with some 1.3 million individuals yet to lodge.
The ATO has received 8.7 million lodgments so far this year, resulting in over $20 billion in tax refunds issued.
The Tax Office warned that last year around 475,000 taxpayers who completed their own return lodged late. Of these late lodgers, over 300,000 had been missing out on refunds as a result.
“We know that tax can seem complicated, which is why we see so many people putting it off. People should know that it’s actually becoming increasingly quick and painless to lodge your return,” assistant commissioner Karen Foat said.
“Your tax return can be done from the comfort of your own living room, just by going online and logging into myTax (accessed via myGov). Some taxpayers have even told us that they’ve completed it whilst on the bus, it’s that easy. For the majority of taxpayers, this takes less than half an hour.”
Individuals using a tax agent have longer to have their return completed, but they need to be on their books by 31 October.
“Where people put off their returns and lodge at the last minute or even after the deadline, we also start to see some easily avoidable errors,” said Ms Foat.
“One common thing we see is people losing track of receipts that have been thrown out by taxpayers thinking they didn’t need them anymore.”
She revealed that the ATO often hears some pretty creative excuses around tax time, ranging from why someone has lost their records, missed the deadline, excluded income or over claimed on deductions.
Top weirdest tax time excuses
- Someone’s stolen my pants
One taxpayer had a thief break into their car and walk off with their uniform pants. Unfortunately, the taxpayer had kept their receipt in his pocket and couldn’t provide a record of their purchase.
The ATO recommends taxpayers keep digital records of all claims you intend to make. When you only keep physical receipts, you run a real risk of losing all evidence of your purchases.
- I’ve got ‘holiday brain’
One reason for late lodgment the ATO has been given is that a taxpayer had gotten ‘holiday brain’ after returning from a trip and had forgotten to lodge their tax return.
The ATO knows that preparing your tax return may not be the most exciting date on your calendar, but it is an important one, and it may even result in you receiving a refund that you can put towards your next holiday.
- What’s a tax return? Never heard of it!
Sometimes the ATO hears that taxpayers don’t know what a tax return is.
- A mouse ate my receipts
The most common problem that the Tax Office keeps seeing excuses for is missing receipts. One taxpayer contended that a mouse had broken into their car and eaten their receipts.
In cases where you’ve lost your receipt, the ATO advises you check with the seller to see if they have a record of your transaction.
- The car wash did it
Leaving receipts in cars seems to frequently cause taxpayers strife. The ATO heard from one taxpayer who, while trying to get their car squeaky clean, vanished all traces of their purchase.
Remember, when you’re going through a car wash, close those windows.
- I’ve got too many to do!
The ATO often hears that taxpayers put off doing their latest return because they have several returns overdue.
While life sometimes gets ‘busy’, it’s easy to get your tax affairs back on track. The ATO's online lodgment service “myTax” lets you lodge tax returns for 2016 onwards. A lot of the information you will need to complete your tax returns will be pre-filled for you; including payment summary and health insurance information.