Accountants Daily understands the ATO has now received 2.4 million lodgements this tax time, around 24 per cent up over last year’s figures at the same time.
To date, over 935,000 individual tax refunds have been processed, with a total value of over $2.2 billion. The average refund amount is $2,360.
The spike in lodgers comes as the government’s $158 billion income tax cuts were passed in full earlier this month, with taxpayers chasing the doubled end-of-year rebate of $1,080 for low and middle-income earners.
ATO assistant commissioner Karen Foat said that while taxpayers were more than welcome to lodge if they had all the information they need to fill their returns accurately, early lodgers were more susceptible to making errors.
“We know from previous years that the early birds who lodge in the first weeks of July are far more likely to make mistakes or submit incomplete data. These mistakes may slow down your return, or result in a debt owing to the ATO if we later need to correct the information,” Ms Foat said.
“This tax time will see our sophisticated data-matching systems process an unprecedented amount of information and will track money moving around the economy.
“We will be analysing over 650 million pieces of data from banks and financial institutions, employers, the sharing economy, rental property managers, cryptocurrency exchanges and share registries.
“Our data matching will help us match what you’ve earned, whether from a traditional nine-to-five job, a casual position or sharing economy income. Failing to declare all your income will result in you ending up with a bill when we later match your data.”
Further, with the rollout of Single Touch Payroll, employers have been given until 31 July 2019 to make a finalisation declaration for the 2018–19 financial year, with that date to change to 14 July each year subsequently.
The Institute of Public Accountants general manager of technical policy Tony Greco said that while the lure of the LMITO might spur taxpayers to lodge early, doing so could be potentially risky.
“It’s not for everyone to lodge early because completeness is not assured and employers have until the end of July to make sure their STP information is tax-ready,” Mr Greco said.
“So, if your STP is not tax-ready and other information is not there but will be later, that cohort should be warned that they are going to be hit with interests and penalties when the ATO does a comparison.
“By October, they will start doing comparisons of what was lodged against the pre-fill. Some people are testing the waters, but unless you have absolute certainty, we’re saying it is better to wait and not go through the process.”
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Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.