Haven't lodged your 2019 tax return yet? Time is running out


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While most people are familiar with the October 31 tax deadline, they may be less aware of another tax deadline. Given it's just a few days away we thought we'd go into a bit more detail about this deadline, who it affects and what you need to know.

What is the final tax deadline?

The May 15 deadline is the final, final, final tax deadline offered to taxpayers with a good tax history and who use a registered tax agent. This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, this deadline has been extended until June 5.

may 15 tax time

In simpler terms, it's a lodgement extension from the standard October 31 deadline.

Lodge after June 5 this year (or May 15 in other years), good tax history or not, and you run the risk of penalties from the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

Who is eligible for the lodgement extension?

Final determination of who does and doesn't get the lodgement extension lies with the ATO, but loosely anyone who ticks the following criteria will get an extension:

  • Is registered with a tax agent (in Australia about two thirds of taxpayers use a tax agent),
  • Has good tax lodgement history (has lodged on time in prior years, has no other outstanding tax returns to lodge),
  • Has no outstanding debts with the ATO.

What if I don't have a tax agent and haven't done my return yet?

Speak to one as soon as possible. Many tax agents are offering remote service during the coronavirus.

A tax agent can check your tax history, get income information for you and help get your return lodged as soon as possible.

Depending on your circumstances they can also negotiate on your behalf with the ATO to have penalties reduced or waived altogether.

But, you need to act now. The longer you leave lodging, the higher the chance of ATO penalties.

What are the possible fines?

Penalties vary depending on your history but they can be up to $1050 plus interest.

That's on top of any tax you may have owing from your tax return.

Who is likely to get a penalty?

Again, this is dependent on your tax history and at the discretion of the ATO. In general, the ATO is usually very understanding as long as you're trying to do the right thing.

Taxpayers who knowingly do the wrong thing or try to deceive the ATO are the ones most often in the firing line. So, don't bury your head in the sand and hope it will all go away. It won't.

Still haven't lodged your 2019 return?

If you're one of about 15% of Australians yet to lodge their return, you should act now. Get in touch with a tax agent and get them to help bring your tax affairs up to date.

In many cases penalties won't apply and if you're like most people who are due a tax refund, you may even get a nice little bump to the bank balance for your troubles.

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Liz Russell is senior tax manager at Etax.com.au, Australia's largest online tax return service. Liz has been with Etax since it launched in 1998 and brings more than 40 years' tax experience to the table. Her expertise lies within complex individual tax returns and ensuring all of her clients walk away with the best possible refund while staying within ATO rules and regulations.
Anon Anon
May 13, 2020 5.02pm

Is it not extended to 6 june now due to covid?

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