Finance Finance News ‘Leaving money on the table’: Refund warning as tax deadline looms
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‘Leaving money on the table’: Refund warning as tax deadline looms

tax return
Time is running out to lodge your 2020-21 tax return, the ATO has warned. Photo: TND
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Australians could miss out on thousands of dollars in tax refunds if they fail to lodge their returns by November 1.

Australian Taxation Office assistant commissioner Tim Loh said people who have yet to file “are probably leaving some money on the table”.

“If you put it off a little bit you could be, in limited circumstances, subject to penalties,” Mr Loh told The New Daily.

So far the ATO has handed out $20 billion in tax refunds to 7.2 million Australians, or about four in five taxpayers.

But millions of Australians are still yet to file their 2020-21 returns despite the ATO handing out big refunds due to extended tax offsets and special COVID measures.

Larger tax refunds are available in 2020-21 because the low and middle income tax offset (LMITO) has been extended and is worth between $255 and $1080.

The average refund this year has been $2700, but taxpayers could receive more or less depending on their individual circumstances.

Failing to lodge on time could also affect their eligibility for childcare subsidies and the family tax benefit from the federal government.

Agents have longer to lodge

Mr Loh said you have until November 1 to lodge your return or register with an approved tax agent.

If you register with an agent, you have until May 15.

But doing it yourself is often easier than it sounds.

These days, employment information is auto filled, so it only takes about 30 minutes to lodge a return online.

You just need to log into your MyGov account, make sure it is linked to the ATO’s online service, and then follow the ATO’s prompts.

If you need extra help, check out The New Daily’s previous articles on maximising your refund and claiming home office expenses. (We’ve included more links below.)

Taxpayers can claim work-from-home expenses at a flat 80-cent-per-hour rate in 2020-21.

This flat rate measure was created during COVID and will be available next financial year, too.

It covers all work expenses, like phone, internet and electricity, but precludes you from claiming any other expenses related to working from home.

Asked whether the ATO will extend the 80 cent flat rule again, Mr Loh said: “With COVID-19, we just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

TND’s tax explainers