The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is reminding Australians that this is the last week to either lodge their tax return or register with a tax agent.
So far this Tax Time, more than $19.5 billion has been refunded to more than 7.5 million taxpayers.
NSW is leading the charge, with more than 2.7 million returns lodged, followed by Victoria at 2.1 million and Queensland at 1.8 million.
Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat explained that “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.
“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.
“We’ve also been asking people 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. 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.
Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat said that “We are noticing some people are yet to lodge. If you plan to lodge with a tax agent, you may have a later lodgement date, but is important to contact your 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.
“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,” Ms Foat said.
“If your circumstances change, you can suspend, vary or cancel your payment plan. We will also make sure you are not charged interest on the outstanding debt while you are affected by COVID-19.”
Working from home short cut extended
In recognition of the current situation in relation to COVID-19, the ATO has extended the 80 cents per hour ‘short cut method’ to calculate working from home expenses until 31 December 2020. Taxpayers wishing to use this method to calculate their working from home expenses should 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.
Tax Help continues to be available to eligible clients until 30 November. Tax Help program is a free and confidential community-based tax return preparation service.
Taxpayers that are eligible for Tax Help and would like to make an appointment, can phone us on 13 28 61 for the Tax Help services available in their area. Tax help is open to anyone with an income of around $60,000 or less that didn’t work as a contractor, run a business (including as a sole trader), or have complicated tax affairs.
More information: ato.gov.au/taxhelp
2020 has been difficult but your tax return doesn’t need to be. For information on what’s changed this tax time, visit our Tax essentials resource.