Haven't lodged your 2021/2022 tax return? Time is running out


If your 2021/22 tax return is still outstanding it's time to get cracking.

The official deadline for lodging your 2021/22 tax return was October 31, 2022.

But what happens if "do tax return" is still marked on your calendar and waiting action?

may 15 tax deadline

There are several possible scenarios.

If you registered with a tax agent before October 31, breathe a sigh of relief.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) allows registered tax agents to lodge their clients' tax returns long after the October 31 deadline.

You may even be able to lodge as late as May 15 though this is generally seen as the final date before penalties apply.

Help your tax agent fast-track your return by getting your details to them as soon as possible.

Instead of dumping a shoebox of receipts on their desk, you can speed up the process by sorting through the paperwork, and bundling together receipts that fall into the same category (for example work-related expenses).

Better still, organise the lot into a spreadsheet you can email to your tax agent, along with any queries you may have.

What if you didn't register with a tax agent before October 31?

At this late stage you will likely be classified by the ATO as a "late lodger", and that brings the potential for late lodgement penalties. (Time to pour a stiff drink.)

Late penalties can be as high as $275 for the first 28 days after the lodgement date. From there they can go up by a further $275 after each subsequent 28 day period, to a maximum of $1375.

But relief may be in sight.

The ATO says late lodgement penalties won't usually be applied if you are owed a refund or if you paid the correct amount of tax.

That's fair enough. After all, if you're due a refund, the ATO has enjoyed an interest-free loan on your coin.

The danger zone is when you owe money on tax.

Here too, the ATO may show leniency.

The ATO states, "Generally, we don't apply penalties in isolated cases of late lodgment".

The key word here is 'isolated'. If you're running behind for the first time, you may avoid a late penalty.

You may also be able to claim "extenuating circumstances" such as being impacted by a natural disaster, having a serious illness or other circumstances beyond your control that prevented you requesting extra time to lodge your return.

As a general rule however, it's not a good idea to test the tax man's patience.

Lodging your 2021/22 tax return as soon as possible can minimise possible penalties and let you pocket a refund sooner.

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A former Chartered Accountant, Nicola Field has been a regular contributor to Money for 20 years, and writes on personal finance issues for some of Australia's largest financial institutions. She is the author of Investing in Your Child's Future and Baby or Bust, and has collaborated with Paul Clitheroe on a variety of projects including radio scripts, newspaper columns, and several books.