Don't worry about your tax affairs, ATO tells bushfire-affected Aussies


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The ATO is doubling down on its bushfire relief measures.

If you or your business has been affected by the fires, you'll now have longer to submit tax returns and pay business activity statements. Refunds will also be fast-tracked.

"If you've been impacted by these bushfires, we don't want you to be concerned about your tax affairs.

Philip Hine surveys the ruins of his property on January 14, 2020 in Wytaliba, Australia. Philip narrowly escaped the inferno that tore through the area on the afternoon of November 8, 2019, after first sheltering inside his home, before driving away in h
Philip Hine surveys the ruins of his property on January 14, 2020 in Wytaliba, Australia. Photo: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

Now is the time for you, your family and your community," says the commissioner of taxation Chris Jordan.

"We'll help you sort out your tax affairs later."

Businesses, individuals, and self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) in bushfire impacted areas will now have until May 28, 2020, to lodge and pay business activity statements and income tax returns.

You can also vary income tax instalments to nil without penalties.

In addition, the ATO's fast tracking any refunds that are due to taxpayers in impacted regions, while any interest and penalties applied to tax debts since the commencement of the bushfires that have been shouldered by those affected will also be waived.

And don't worry if you've also lost your documents - the ATO will reissue them.

"We understand there may be situations where additional support or extensions may be required beyond the automatic deferrals that we've announced," says Jordan.

"We're standing by, ready to work with people who have been impacted on a case-by-case basis and I have made it clear to my staff that I expect them to be flexible, reasonable and pragmatic when considering each request on its merits."

A complete list of areas identified as bushfire affected is available on the ATO website at

If you've been affected by this disaster but your postcode is not currently in the identified list, phone our Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218 for tailored help.

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David Thornton was a journalist at Money from September 2019 to November 2021. He previously worked at Your Money, covering market news as producer of Trading Day Live. Before that, he covered business and finance news at The Constant Investor. David holds a Masters of International Relations from the University of Melbourne.

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