Jul 7, 2024

Get it right first time – don’t lodge your tax return too early

It might seem like a good idea to lodge your tax return as soon as the financial year ends – with costs of living rising you might be hoping for a refund or you might just want to tick it off your to-do list for another 12 months. But the ATO has warned taxpayers that early July lodgers are twice as likely to make mistakes on their returns, and is encouraging taxpayers to take their time and get it right. “Tax time is not a race, and there is a much higher chance that your return will be missing important information if you lodge in early July.” – ATO Assistant Commissioner Rob Thomson 

Taxpayers can, of course, lodge their tax returns as early as 1 July, but the ATO actually recommends that tax returns be submitted later in July. Why? Lodging towards the end of July allows time for information from employers, banks, health funds and government agencies (eg Centrelink) to be automatically pre-filled in your tax return if you lodge your own return via myTax or use a registered tax agent. While pre-filled data is available from 1 July, most data is usually finalised by the end of July. Some data, like partnership or trust distributions, may be unavailable until even later. 

The ATO notes that that mistakes early lodgers make often involve not including interest from banks, dividend income, government agency income and health insurance details. The ATO suggests that taxpayers take their time to properly prepare for lodging their returns while waiting for the relevant information to pre-fill. To prepare, you should: check contact and bank details are correct, as updating these after lodging a return can cause delays; gather all necessary records, including receipts, diaries and private health insurance details; and review the ATO’s occupation guides to make sure you claim what you’re entitled to. You should check the “Pre-fill availability” of third-party information providers for pre-filling your tax return for 2023-24 on the ATO website – links are provided to help you check for information from government agencies, health funds, financial institutions and companies. You should also check your income statement from your employer/employers (covering year-to-date salary and wages, PAYG withholding tax and employer super contributions) has been marked “tax ready”, as well as checking your pre-fill data is available in myTax before you prepare to lodge. Once it is available, you should check that all the pre-filled information is complete and correct. 

From 1 July 2024, you can’t delete or remove pre-filled government benefit data for Allowance or Pension payments (eg Jobseeker, Age Pension, Disability Support Pension), as the ATO’s pre-fill service now provides greater certainty for benefit data. When accessing your pre-filled information, there will be a marker where the record is “high certainty data”. 

Gaps can arise where organisations may be delayed in providing information, the ATO hasn’t been able to match the data to your record or information hasn’t passed all data quality checks. If you find errors in the information, you should contact the provider and make sure that corrections are sent through to the ATO. Whether you lodge early in July or wait until later to ensure that you have all of your pre-fill data, the ATO understands that mistakes are sometimes made. If you realise you’ve made a mistake after lodging your tax return, you can fix errors or omissions once the initial lodgment has been processed by going through the ATO online amendment process, accessible through myGov or by speaking with your registered tax agent.

Speak to one of our accountants if you have any questions about the changes in tax for 2024.