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Jump-the-gun tax returns ‘at high risk of adjustment’ 

Tax

The ATO says failing to wait for prefill data doubles the chance of changes later.

By Philip King3 minute read

More than 140,000 had their tax returns amended prior to assessment last year as people jumped the gun to lodge in early July, warned the ATO.

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The office said mistakes were more likely when taxpayers and agents rushed their returns, with many being delayed or adjusted if they had failed to wait for prefill information.

“The stakes are high for early July lodgers,” said Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh said. “People who lodge in July are twice as likely to have their returns adjusted by the ATO.

“You can lodge on 1 July, but you are punting with your tax return by risking delays to any refund you are owed. If you forget to include everything, you may end up answering questions from the tax office.”

He said mistakes were more likely and it was worth waiting until an income statement was flagged as “Tax ready”.

“We pre-fill information such as your wages, health insurance and interest from banks – this process is usually finalised by late July,” Mr Loh said.

“Thanks to pre-fill, waiting a few extra weeks can make lodging your tax return online quicker and easier.”

He said from late July onwards, most information from employers, banks, government agencies and health funds was automatically loaded into tax returns and once the prefilled information was available it could be confirmed via ATO online services.

“Once the information we collect is available, all you need to do is check it and add anything that’s missing,” Mr Loh said.

He said common mistakes included neglecting income from banks and dividends from shares, although the ATO had this information and if an amendment had to be made, it could result in a tax debt.

If a prefilled figure needed to be changed, appropriate records were needed.

“Taxpayers that realise they have made a mistake can fix errors or omissions in their tax return through the ATO online amendment process via myGov,” the office said.

“If the ATO finds a genuine mistake in a tax return, the ATO will show the taxpayer the correct method so they can get it right next time and may remit penalties unless the error was unduly reckless.”

Despite this, the ATO also cautioned against relying solely on prefilled information.

It said the details might be incomplete if an organisation had yet to supply data, information could not be matched to a taxpayer’s record, or if the information failed to pass data quality checks.

Jump-the-gun tax returns ‘at high risk of adjustment’ 
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Philip King

Philip King

AUTHOR

Philip King is editor of Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Philip joined the titles in March 2022 and brings extensive experience from a variety of roles at The Australian national broadsheet daily, most recently as motoring editor. His background also takes in spells on diverse consumer and trade magazines.

You can email Philip on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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