Nila Sweeney

It’s not just Halloween that’s spooking people today – October 31st also means it’s the final lodgement date for tax returns for the 2010-2011 financial year.

 

Every year millions of Australians miss the deadline, despite the cash injection a tax refund can bring.

 

Adrian Raftery from Mr Taxman said he is stunned by the number of taxpayers who still have to meet their annual tax obligation, and said not lodging your tax return can often mean missing out on thousands of unclaimed refunds.

 

“Don't people want their refunds? There are a number of slackos out there that simply procrastinate and not only don't lodge a tax return on time, but also have several returns outstanding,” Raftery said.

 

Tax Commissioner Michael D'Ascenzo reminded taxpayers that one of the easiest and quickest ways to lodge your return is online by downloading e-tax.

 

“E-tax is available to download free from our website at ato.gov.au/etax, and so far this year 2.1 million people have taken advantage of this lodgment option,” D'Ascenzo said.

 

E-tax can save you time by downloading information from third parties directly into your tax return, and includes information such as bank interest, payment summaries, government payments, parental leave payments and information to assist in determining eligibility for the Education Tax Refund.'

 

Raftery warned that if you are late with lodging your return, penalties may apply, and added “If you know you have to pay, then lodge your return to avoid penalties.”

 

He also reminded taxpayers that the ATO is often willing to negotiate payment plans with people, however they will charge interest (currently 11.86%).

 

Additionally, if taxpayers inadvertently omit some of their income including capital gains it's likely to be picked up and offenders may face a fine.

 

The ATO said that since July 1 of this year it has been forced to withhold more than 92,000 returns, worth some $382 million, due to potentially fraudulent claims.

 

To avoid any potential tax mishaps, Mr Taxman's Adrian Raftery offered these five tips:

 

1. Make sure you claim the Education Tax Refund if you are eligible.

 

2. If making a claim for motor vehicles expenses, your log book must be for a continuous 12-week period.

 

3. If you have more than $300 of total deductions then you must have documentary evidence for the full amount.

 

4. If you have private health cover or a low income earning spouse, provide those details to avoid getting hit with the extra Medicare levy surcharge.

 

5. Don't omit income - the ATO will data-match more than 500 million transactions.

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