Tax return assistance

Getting behind with your tax returns can be stressful but help might be available.

Tax return assistance, disability pension, help

Getting behind with your tax returns can be stressful as Gerry has discovered. Fear not, help may be available.

Q. Gerry
I am on a disability pension and am desperately seeking help. I need to lodge multiple tax returns and as tax time comes around again, I'm just getting further behind and don't know where to start. This has not only become very stressful for me, but could be financially difficult due to not only the cost of a consultant's fees, as well as possible fines from the Australian Tax Office (ATO). I am desperate to finalise this matter. Are you able to advise of anyone who could help me with these tax returns?

A. The first thing to do is not panic and don't hide from the ATO. If you've received correspondence, deal with it by picking up the phone and calling the ATO to ask for an extension of time or further information if required. If you are willing to work through your tax returns, there are people who can help.

The ATO has a program called Tax Help. Through a network of volunteers, who are not ATO staff but are trained and supported by the ATO, low income earners can get help filling in and lodging their tax returns. Tax Help is available in all cities and many country centres throughout Australia.

Tax Help consultants operate from 1 July until October 2014 and are available to those earning less than $50,000 per annum. They deal with simple straightforward tax returns and while your situation may seem complex, if you break it down year by year, you should be able to get assistance.

For more information, call the ATO on 13 28 61 or visit the ATO website.

Also, some local MPs and even federal MPs offer a service through their constituency offices which help people lodge tax returns. As you can imagine, such services are very popular, so you should act sooner rather than later.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    16th Jun 2014
    Tried to give them a call in confidence.
    No way!!! They quote every possible Act they have to force you to disclose your name and address. Not at all possible to examine scenarios without getting into legal trouble.
    Certainly is not a tax help site if you need assistance if you have not payed your tax for any reason.
    16th Jun 2014
    Amazing how people don't understand the law.
    Gerry is already in 'legal trouble' by failing to lodge.

    Gerry should contact the Tax Help people or his local member.
    ATO does react well to goodwill.
    ATO will be happy Gerry is addressing the problem

    If Gerry receives only a disability support pension with no other income,
    then no tax will be payable.
    Also any imposed fines should be able to be remitted.

    I am a Tax Agent - for over 10 years
    and have handled many past years catchup returns without problems
    16th Jun 2014
    I went to a tax agent to try to sort it out. She filed tax returns for a 3 of the 10 years I have not paid and I got a small return. Then she gave me a $10 000 quote to do the rest. I am on a pension and do not have that kind of money. Now I have the tax office sending me letters with fines if I do not pay in one week.
    Certainly did not start out to avoid taxes, but lodging my returns was just too hard and when I missed one year it went to 2 then 3 etc.
    Current plan is to call the tax office and sort it out. But am I better fronting up alone on with a tax agent?
    16th Jun 2014
    You ya gonna blame Kupsha? I mean 10 years makes a bit of a statement.
    I understand that the ATO only goes back 6 years so maybe your dodging actually saved you some tax.
    17th Jun 2014
    I was in a similar situation Kupsha some years ago with 3 years outstanding. I went by myself. I found myself sitting in a room with a small table and 2 chairs. By myself most of the time. The whole procedure took about 4 hours. Sure, they were nice and friendly at first, even offered me a coffee. But then the mood changed. They became relentless with their questions. I may have said the wrong thing at times, but I couldn't think, they had me rattled. It was the bright lights shining in my eyes which were blinking each time the ATO Auditor paced across the floor. They could sense that I was uneasy and the questions got tougher until I cracked under the pressure. Rather than boor you with the detail, suffice to say I was fined $20, which I immediately appealed against. The good news is I got a cheque in the mail months later for that exact amount. Just remember these guys get a commission if they find you owe money to the ATO.
    16th Jun 2014
    Your local Community Advice Centre should be able to advise you where to get assistance free of charge, as you are on a pension. If you do not know where to find your local centre, enquire at your municipal council. The ATO has people out there working in some of these community support centres, but probably only between July and October.

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