Frequently Asked Questions

Choose one of our Frequently Asked Question categories below;

Tax Returns - Due Dates

Income tax returns are due for lodgement with the ATO by the 31st of October each year.

However by lodging your return with Austax you are usually eligible for an extended lodgement deadline.

Individuals with no overdue prior year tax returns typically qualify for an extended due date of at least the 31st of March.

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Please contact our office to discuss your circumstances as soon as possible.

Where you are unable to lodge your return prior to the due date imposed by the Australian Taxation Office due to circumstances beyond your control (eg, serious illness, defence force members posted overseas) we may be able to arrange an extension of the lodgement due date.

Other options may include appointing a representative to manage your affairs on your behalf.

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Taxpayers who fail to lodge their tax returns on time risk penalties including fines, interest and potential imprisonment.

Failing to lodge your tax returns on time you may also render you ineligible for, or required to repay, other government benefits such as the Family Tax Benefit, Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate.

Generally any penalties applied increase in severity depending on how long your return has been overdue so we advise contacting Austax as soon as possible to discuss your situation.

It may be possible to have fines and penalties remitted by the ATO depending on a number of variables such as;

  • the number of returns overdue,
  • the amount of tax owing from these assessments,
  • your previous lodgement history, and
  • your compliance with a directive to lodge your returns.
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Each year Austax helps a number of clients who have not lodged their tax return for many years.

Our practice is equipped to electronically prepare tax returns from 1990 onward and can still manually prepare older returns as required.

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Appointments

Yes you do.

During our peak period of July to October appointments are essential.

Our accountants are commonly fully booked up weeks in advance, particularly our popular evening or Saturday appointment times.

We advise that you book well in advance to avoid disappointment.

Category: Appointments
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Please contact our office as soon as possible to notify us and allow us to reschedule your appointment.

Category: Appointments
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At a minimum we need details of any assessable income that you have received during the financial year, as well as any expenses you have incurred in earning that income.

For most salary or wage earners this will entail bringing in a copy of your PAYG payment summary and details of any bank interest received, along with a list of your work related deductions.

If you receive income from other sources such as dividends, managed funds or investment properties, or run your own business we will also need any information pertaining to these sources of income.

We suggest reviewing our Taxation Documentation Checklist for more information.

For clients with a spouse, we will also need details about your spouse, including their full name, date of birth and taxable income. We realise that the taxable income of your spouse may not always be available at the time you prepare your tax return. In these situations we recommend you make the best estimate you can.

For new clients, we also require you to bring photo ID, your tax file number and a copy of your most recent tax return with you.

Category: Appointments
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Many of our clients are unable to make it to our office to have their tax returns completed face to face.

Fortunately, with the technology currently available this no longer presents a problem.

You can post, fax or e-mail your tax return to our office from anywhere in the world.

Should you wish to take advantage of this service, simply download and complete our Client Checklist and forward it to us along with your tax documents. You can review our Taxation Documentation Checklist if you are not sure what information we will require.

New clients will also need to include a legible copy of their drivers licence or passport that has been certified as a true copy by a Justice of the Peace. We also require that the JP includes their contact telephone number on any certified copies.

For returns being sent by mail;

We recommend only posting copies of your tax documents rather than the originals. You will need your documents to substantiate your claims should the ATO audit your return so you don’t want them getting lost in the mail.

If you are forwarding your original documents please ensure you use registered mail to reduce the risk of them being lost in the post. Whilst we endeavour to return all original documents to our clients upon completion of their return we accept no responsibility for documents which are lost in the mail.

Ensure you address your letter to our postal address; PO BOX 460 Ingleburn NSW 1890 and attention your letter to your accountant.

For returns being sent via fax;

Fax your return to us on (02) 9829 2670. Please ensure that you include a fax cover sheet at the beginning of your fax that contains your name, a contact phone number, the number of pages that are being sent and attention your fax to your accountant. If you are sending multiple faxes please use a cover sheet for each fax to ensure that your paperwork is filed correctly.

For returns being sent via email;

You can send your return via email to taxreturns@austaxaccountants.com.au or directly to your accountants’ personal email address. For scanned attachments, it is crucial that you ensure that they are of sufficient size and resolution to able to produce a legible printed copy at A4 size.

We recommend that you request a read receipt when sending your e-mail as there is a chance that your e-mail may be caught by an overzealous spam filter and not be actioned. If you haven’t received an acknowledgment of receipt within a few days please phone our office to confirm whether we have received your job.

Category: Appointments
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Yes, this can generally be done in two ways.

Firstly, if you have granted someone a general power of attorney you may have your attorney complete your return on your behalf.

Alternatively, you can authorise a representative to complete a tax return on your behalf by making a declaration under section 388-65 of Schedule 1 of the Taxation Administration Act 1953.

This declaration can be found as part of the ATO ‘Nomination of a representative’ form available here. This form must be completed correctly and signed by both the taxpayer and their appointed representative to be valid.

In either situation Austax will also require 100 points of identification for both the taxpayer and their representative along with the power of attorney or notice of appointment of a representative.

Only original identification documents or copies certified by a Justice of the Peace are acceptable. We require that the JP includes their contact telephone number on any certified copies. We also require that at least one form of ID for both the taxpayer and their representative contains a specimen of their signature.

Category: Appointments
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Fees & Payment

Due to the complexities of Australian income tax legislation we do not offer fixed prices for the completion of income tax returns.

Our fees to prepare an individual income tax return start from $165.00. This fee applies to most of our clients with basic income tax returns containing salary and wages income and work related deductions.

Our final price however will vary based a number of factors which may increase the complexity and specialist knowledge required to complete your return.

These factors include, but are not limited to;

  • Rental Property Schedules (investment properties),
  • Share or Options trading,
  • Business schedules,
  • Capital Gains Schedules,
  • Foreign Income and inter jurisdictional tax issues,
  • Tax Residency considerations,
  • Trust income, and
  • ATO requests to complete the Work Related Expense Schedule.

If you require a more detailed quote for our services prior to the commencement of work on your return, please contact our office.

Category: Fees & Payment
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We accept payment by cash, cheque, direct debit, EFTPOS, Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

If you are receiving a tax refund we can also arrange to deduct our fees from your refund for a small additional fee of $25.

Credit card payments can be made via our website. Austax does not apply a surcharge to payments made by credit card.

Category: Fees & Payment
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Our $25 service fee is levied to cover the additional costs we incur to provide this payment option to our clients.

The pronouncements of our professional body require that any amounts received by our firm upon trust are held by us in a trust account.

When transacting upon this trust account we are required comply with the relevant documentation standards, both for the purposes of meeting our professional standards requirements, and, the requirements of the AntiMoney Laundering and Counter‑Terrorism Financing Act 2006.

This account is also required to be independently audited each year to ensure that Austax, as the operator of the trust account, are complying with our professional and legal obligations.

These compliance requirements come at substantial cost which we partially recover by charging this fee to our clients who choose to pay using this method.

Category: Fees & Payment
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Clients opting to have our fees deducted from their tax refund are required to have their notice of assessment sent to our office and their tax refund deposited directly into the Austax trust account.

Upon receipt of your tax refund into our trust account as cleared funds, and receipt from the ATO of their EFT Reconciliation Statement, we deduct our fees from your refund and forward the balance to your nominated bank account.

Your notice of assessment (where a paper document is generated by the ATO) along with your trust account receipt/tax invoice is then forwarded to you in the mail.

Due to the additional processing required, it usually takes a day or two longer for clients paying our fees from their refund to receive their refund when compared to clients who pay our fees upfront.

Category: Fees & Payment
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Tax Returns - Lodgement

Once your return is complete, Austax will generally lodge your return with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as soon as possible.

By complete we mean that, your return has been finalised, you have signed off on all the documentation and/or declarations required by Austax and you have paid all outstanding fees (or arranged for them to be paid from your refund).

Where your return is completed after 5pm or on a weekend your return may be lodged the next business day (Mon-Fri). All other returns are generally lodged the same day they are completed.

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Other than in exceptional circumstances, or for returns for the 1997 financial year and earlier, all returns prepared by Austax are lodged electronically with the Australian Taxation Office.

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Once your return is lodged, the ATO will process it and issue you with a notice of assessment. If you’re owed a refund, it will be issued at the same time.

The ATO service standard for assessing a current year tax return lodged electronically is 30 days. This means that the ATO does not consider your return to be “late” until 30 days have passed from the date of lodgement.

However, the ATO’s statistics show that they usually process 94% tax returns that have been lodged electronically within 14 days of receiving them.

The ATO offers an automated phone service to allow taxpayers to check the progress of their return. This can be accessed by calling 13 28 65. Alternatively, the progress of your return can be viewed on the myGov website.

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The first indication most clients receive that their return has been processed is the extra money in their nominated bank account. This is due to the EFT of your refund taking place the same day your notice of assessment is issued.

Your notice of assessment will usually arrive a few days later in the mail, or if you are a registered myGov user, you will be able to retrieve a digital copy of the notice of assessment from the myGov website.

If you have elected to pay your tax return fees from the proceeds of your refund, your receipt will arrive in the mail along with your notice of assessment.

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Where's My Refund?

This is nothing to worry about. It is normal for returns lodged in the same batch, on the same day to be processed at different times. This is due to the way the ATO processes returns.

Each return is grouped for processing based on common items contained in the returns or characteristics of the return. For example, returns containing a high level of work related expenses or that generate a very large refund generally take longer to process as they are subject to a higher level of checking by the ATO.

Having dealings with other government departments also delays returns. For example, being the recipient of Family Tax Benefits usually adds about 5 days to the processing time of a tax return, as the ATO needs to communicate with the Family Assistance Office before they can finalise the return.

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This is nothing to worry about. It is normal for clients who lodge multiple prior year returns at the same time to have them processed at different times.

This is due to the way the ATO processes returns. The ATO may process your returns as one batch, multiple batches or separately. Processing usually occurs in chronological order however this is not always the case.

Furthermore the typical ATO processing times do not apply to prior year returns as some information provided in your tax return is carried forward into future returns. This means you may experience significant additional processing times depending on how many overdue returns were lodged.

Failure to lodge your income tax returns on-time is a crime and punishable by fine or imprisonment. We offer clients who have lodged multiple overdue returns and are unhappy with the length of time the ATO is taking to process their returns the following advice, don’t poke the angry bear.

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For clients that paid our fees upfront:
The bank account your refund is being directed to is shown at the very bottom of the front page of your tax return.

Ensure that your bank account details are correct and that you are checking the correct bank account. Your refund is usually prefixed by “ATO” followed by the sequence number shown on your notice of assessment.

If the bank details supplied on your return are incorrect, then the ATO will forward you a cheque which usually takes about two weeks.

For clients that paid our fees from their tax refund:
The bank account details your refund was deposited to are printed on the trust account receipt that accompanies your notice of assessment.

Ensure that your bank details are correct and that you are checking the correct bank account. Your refund is usually prefixed by “Austax” followed by the receipt number shown on your trust account receipt.

If the bank details supplied on your return are incorrect, then Austax has probably been trying to contact you! Please call our office as soon as possible to advise us of the correct bank account details.

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Generally speaking returns that experience delays in processing by the tax office may be incomplete, incorrect or have been subject to further checks by the ATO. This may occur for a number of reasons, for example;

  • Income reported to the ATO being omitted from a return,
  • Name changes that have not been notified to the ATO, eg, in the case of marriage,
  • Incorrect date of birth details on file at the ATO,
  • Enquiries regarding Child Support Obligations,
  • Enquiries regarding Family Tax Benefit entitlements,
  • Delays in the supply of information from third parties to the ATO, eg, PAYG Payment Summaries from employers,
  • ATO audit or investigation,
  • Insolvency/Bankruptcy.

As the delay may be due to any of a number of reasons, please contact our office and speak with our staff so that they may investigate your situation further.

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Errors & Amendments

Please wait until you receive your notice of assessment and statement of account, as these documents should explain why this is the case.

In the vast majority of cases your notice of assessment will match our tax estimate precisely with any differences usually being attributable to one or more of the following common causes;

  • outstanding tax liabilities owed to the ATO,
  • money owed to other government departments such as Centrelink or Child Support,
  • monies being directed to a trustee in bankruptcy,
  • fines and/or general interest charge being applied by the ATO, or
  • variances in the amount of your HELP/SFSS or TSL loan repayment.

The amount of any adjustment is shown on your statement of account. If any of your refund was paid to another government department, the name of that department is also shown on the statement of account.

If your notice of assessment differs from our estimate or you are unsure please contact our office and speak with your accountant.

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Where you have already lodged your tax return and subsequently;

  • Receive a second/amended PAYG Payment Summary,
  • Realised you have forgotten to declare some income,
  • Found some extra receipts for deductions, or
  • Discover an error in the original return.

You will need to contact your accountant to arrange for an amendment to be made to your original return as soon as possible.

You generally only have a limited period of two years to amend your tax return so time is of the essence in these situations.

ATO penalties for failure to declare income can range from 25% to 125% of the amount of additional tax payable.

In instances where you discover that you have omitted income from your return, making a voluntary amendment before the ATO reviews your return and does it for you can save you a lot of money, so don’t delay!

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Superannuation

Details of your superannuation accounts are available on the myGov website.

After registering for a myGov account at my.gov.au and linking it with the ATO you will be able to see the details of any superannuation accounts that are linked to your Tax File Number.

Alternatively you can call the ATO on 132 865 for further assistance.

Category: Superannuation
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Can’t find the answer you are looking for? Please contact us at taxreturns@austaxaccountants.com.au