The accounting network has warned taxpayers about relying on the ATO’s pre-filling option in the first few months of the tax season.
Mark Chapman, director of tax communications for H&R Block, said relevant information is received by the ATO progressively and from July onwards, and cannot be assumed to have arrived until much later in the year.
“The pre-filling option in tax returns should be used with caution, as the information provided in it is only as good as the timing of the information being sent by employers, banks, Centrelink and other organisations to the Tax Office,” he said.
“As a general rule, taxpayers should not rely on the pre-fill information and they should check their own records, at least until the end of August when they can be confident the information has arrived.”
Mr Chapman said taxpayers who use the pre-filling service early on in the new financial year may end up owing the tax office money.
“If taxpayers rely on pre-filling information as the source of the income information to complete their tax return, and the information is not complete, it is the taxpayer who will be audited and will be required to pay back the tax refund. In addition, they may be charged interest on the money they have incorrectly received,” he added.
H&R Block’s warning followed an ATO announcement stating myTax has this year been expanded to include people with more complex tax affairs.
According to the tax office, this year, people with income, tax offsets or deductions from superannuation pensions, lump sum payments, managed investment funds and foreign pensions will all be able to lodge using myTax.
Assistant Commissioner Graham Whyte said taxpayers using myTax can be confident they will pay the correct tax and do not need to fear penalties for making a mistake.
“Our research tells us one of the biggest barriers for people doing their own tax return is the fear of making a mistake,” he said.
“If you do accidentally get something wrong and it turns out you owe the ATO money, naturally you will have to pay the tax you owe. However, the ATO will not penalise you for the mistake.”
“On the flipside, if you make a mistake and it turns out you are owed money, we will pay it along with any interest you are entitled to,” Mr Whyte said.