Aussies urged to wait before lodging tax return

Tax time is almost upon us, and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has some valuable advice for taxpayers to ensure a smooth and hassle-free lodgement process and a quick return.

The ATO is once again reminding Australians not to rush their income tax return lodgement, stressing that it’s important to wait until all necessary information has been prefilled and marked as ‘tax ready’ in your myGov online account.

Although you can submit your tax return from 1 July, the ATO says those who submit their returns too hastily risk experiencing processing delays and potential follow-up questions if their return is incomplete.

Tim Loh, assistant commissioner of the ATO, says lodgements made in early July are more likely to be changed than those submitted later.

“While you can lodge from 1 July, there is a much higher chance that your return will be missing important information if you lodge your return before late July,” he says.

“If you forget to include everything, it will slow down the progress of your return, and you’ll likely end up with more work to do down the track.”

The ATO says it is aiming to simplify the process and save taxpayers time and effort. By waiting a few more weeks until all the necessary information is prefilled in your tax return, you can avoid unnecessary stress and ensure accuracy from the start.

“If you tried to bake a cake in an oven that wasn’t preheated, you’d end up with a half-baked disaster,” says Mr Loh.

“Lodging your tax return before everything is ready is similar. Be patient, wait for your data to be prefilled, and you’ll end up with a perfectly baked tax return.”

Most information from employers, banks, government agencies, and health funds will be automatically loaded into your tax return – regardless of whether you use a registered tax agent or lodge your own return – towards the end of July.

“Once the information we collect is available, all you need to do is check it and add anything that’s missing. Essentially, all a well-baked cake now needs is icing and sprinkles,” says Mr Loh.

The ATO says it understands mistakes can happen, and there are provisions in place to rectify errors or omissions in your tax return.

If you believe you have made a mistake, you can easily fix it through the ATO’s online amendment process, accessible via myGov or by speaking to a registered tax agent.

This year, the ATO anticipates fewer people will receive the refunds they were expecting, and some may even have tax debts to manage.

If you find yourself in this situation, Mr Loh advises taking proactive steps to address it.

“If you receive a debt this year that you weren’t expecting or you’re getting behind with your tax, you may be able to set up your own payment plan on the ATO website,” he says.

“If you need additional support, reach out to us or have a chat with your registered tax agent as early as possible so we can find a solution.”

When do you usually lodge your tax return for the year? Have you ever had the ATO send it back? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Tax time checklist from Services Australia

Written by Brad Lockyer

Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.

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