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ATO warns early submissions of tax returns are twice as likely to carry mistakes

Published 25/06/2024, 11:59 am
© Reuters.  ATO warns early submissions of tax returns are twice as likely to carry mistakes

In a move that may surprise some, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) has asked taxpayers to take their time in submitting their tax returns in an effort to reduce mistaken submissions.

While tax return submission opens on July 1, which is next week, the ATO has asked the public to hold off on fulfilling their tax obligations, at least until later in July.

ATO Assistant Commissioner Rob Thomson said those who lodged in early July were twice as likely to make a mistake in their tax return.

“Tax time is not a race and there is a much higher chance that your return will be missing important information if you lodge in early July,” he said, “This is particularly relevant if you are receiving income from multiple sources.

“We see lots of mistakes where people who rush to lodge early have forgotten to include interest from banks, dividend income, payments from government agencies and private health insurance details.”

Allow system to work for you

Australia has a particularly convenient tax system, whereby employers, banks, government agencies and health funds are required to submit tax information on your behalf, lodging it formally with the tax office.

Waiting until late in July, when the majority of these entities have done their part, results in fewer mistakes that need to be corrected at a later date – potentially with penalties attached.

“We know some prefer to tick their tax return off the to-do list early and not think about it for another 12 months, but the best way to get it right is to wait just a few weeks to lodge,” Thomson explained.

“In the meantime, you can get a head start on your tax obligations by gathering all necessary records, ensuring your details are up to date and reviewing the occupation guides on the ATO website to check you’re claiming what you’re entitled to.”

Ensuring your contact details, address and bank details are accurate will reduce delays in receiving your potential tax return.

“You can check if your employer has marked your income statement as ‘tax ready’ as well as if your pre-fill is available in myTax before you lodge,” Thomson continued.

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

If you notice you’ve made a mistake, the myGov portal offers an online amendment process, or you can rectify it through your registered tax agent.

The ATO tends to be very forgiving about honest mistakes – as long as they’re reported promptly.

Read more on Proactive Investors AU

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