Work from home shortcut extended as tax deadline looms

- October 29, 2020 3 MIN READ

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is urging Australians to lodge their tax returns or register with a tax agent as the final week to lodge a tax return for the 2019-2020 financial year draws to a close.

The ATO is encouraging Aussies to take advantage of their myTax service to file,  as much of the information they need will already be pre-filled. So far this Tax Time, more than $19.5 billion has been refunded to more than 7.5 million taxpayers. NSW is leading the charge, with more than 2.7 million returns lodged, followed by Victoria at 2.1 million and Queensland at 1.8 million.

Last week to lodge

Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat  said the average lodgment through the service takes under 30 minutes/

Most of your income and personal details are automatically included in your return. All you need to do is confirm your details are correct and up-to-date and add any deductions. While much of your information will already be in your return, we recommend taking the extra minute to get your return right. Things like not updating bank account details, forgetting to include all income, or claiming deductions you are not entitled to can result in your refund being delayed.

“We’ve also been asking people to be aware of how their work-related expenses might be different this year. Of course, as expected, we’ve seen more people than ever make claims for working from home expenses. Unfortunately, we are seeing a small number of people not taking care to adjust their claims to their altered circumstances or making claims without sufficient evidence. Not being able to support your claim if asked, may delay your refund and result in a penalty in the most serious cases.

Don’t let debt worries delay filing

The Assistant Commissioner said if you are putting off your taxes because of a potential debt – don’t worry.

“Contact us if you need help to understand what support options may be available. You still need to lodge your tax returns on time if you can, even if you can’t pay by the due date. This will show us that you’re aware of your obligations and doing your best to meet them. Once we understand your situation we can discuss whether a deferral or a payment plan is best for you.

“Remember, the earlier you seek help, the easier it will be to get back on track,” Foat said. “If your circumstances change, you can suspend, vary or cancel your payment plan. We will also make sure you are not charged interest on the outstanding debt while you are affected by COVID-19.”

Working from home short cut extended

In recognition of the current situation in relation to COVID-19, the ATO has extended the 80 cents per hour ‘short cut method’ to calculate working from home expenses until 31 December 2020. Taxpayers wishing to use this method to calculate their working from home expenses should keep a record of the number of hours they work from home.

COVID-19 assistance

If you are unable to lodge on time due to the impact of COVID-19,  the ATO says speak with them or your tax agent as soon as possible. The ATO’s Tax Help service also continues to be available to eligible taxpayers until 30 November.  The Tax Help program is a free and confidential community-based tax return preparation service available to anyone with an income of around $60,000 or less that didn’t work as a contractor, run a business (including as a sole trader), or have complicated tax affairs. Call 13 28 61  t book an appointment.

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