The ATO has received 8.7 million lodgements so far this year, an 11 per cent increase on the previous year, with a total value of $20.3 billion in refunds issued. The average refund amount is $2,775.
However, it is still around 1.3 million short of the usual 10 million individual tax returns it receives each year.
As such, the Tax Office is encouraging people to take advantage of potential refunds by lodging their return or engaging a tax agent by 31 October.
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,” said ATO assistant commissioner Karen Foat.
“If you are using a tax agent, you do have longer to have your return completed, but you need to be on their books by 31 October.
“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.”
Ms Foat also shared some of the weirdest tax-time excuses the ATO has received over the years.
“We often hear 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,” she added.
1. 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.
2. I’ve got “holiday brain”.
One reason for late lodgement 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.
3. What’s a tax return? Never heard of it!
Sometimes the ATO hears that taxpayers don’t know what a tax return is.
Generally, you will need to lodge a tax return if your taxable income was above $18,200 or had tax withheld from your income for the 2018–19 year.
4. A mouse ate my receipts.
The most common problem that the ATO 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, check with the seller to see if they have a record of your transaction.
5. 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.
6. 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.