The ATO has recalibrated its Tax Help program this tax time to deal with COVID-19 restrictions, with 30,000 taxpayers set to benefit from the free service.
ATO’s free tax preparation program goes COVID-safe
The ATO’s Tax Help program is a free, community-based tax return preparation service available to anyone with an income of around $60,000 and did not work as a contractor, run a business or have complicated tax affairs for the year.
The program runs from the end of July to October in all capital cities and various regional areas across Australia.
With COVID-19 continuing to impact communities across the country, the 700 ATO-trained and accredited community volunteers will now aim to assist taxpayers online through virtual assistance or over the phone.
Face-to-face support will also continue to be available from selected Tax Help centres, with volunteers to strictly adhere to the Department of Health Guidelines and hygiene measures.
“This tax time is a bit different, and we have adapted our Tax Help program to meet these challenges,” ATO assistant commissioner Karen Foat said.
“The ATO recognises that tax time can seem overwhelming to some members of the community, and we are taking steps to be as supportive as possible to all eligible taxpayers.
“Importantly, the Tax Help program supports Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities through designated centres. Our volunteers can also provide support and assistance in many community languages.”
The Tax Office is also looking to recruit and train more members of the public to become a Tax Help volunteer, particularly in regional and remote areas, as well as those communities impacted by recent natural disasters.
“Some communities are restricting outside visitors, so we are looking for volunteers within these communities to support their neighbours meet their tax obligations,” Ms Foat said.
“We are also conscious that this year many people have been affected by widespread natural disasters like bushfires and floods.
“Around one in 10 of our Tax Help clients live in areas that were declared natural disaster zones. We are working with the community to secure Tax Help centres in as many of these locations as possible.”
Taxpayers eligible for the free service will need to phone the ATO on 13 28 61 to identify Tax Help services available to them.