Australians keen to lock in the newly passed tax offset early are being told to ignore the tax office’s calls to hold off on filing their tax returns.
The Australian Tax Office has taken to social media to encourage people not to file their taxes until mid-August, saying the process “gets easier” later in the year.
The ATO said this was because data from third parties, such as health funds and banks, won’t be included in the ATO’s pre-filled tax forms.
But H&R Block director of tax communication Mark Chapman said much of the missing information should still be available to individuals, and there’s no reason why most Australians can’t fill in their forms and get their tax offset sooner rather than later.
“This is what the ATO says every year, mainly because the ATO is very reliant on third parties getting information to them,” Mr Chapman said.
“A lot of that information comes in later in July or even in August in some cases.
“Having said that, most people will generally have that information themselves and aren’t reliant on those third parties – if you have all the information from your health fund, your employer, your bank and so on, you don’t have to wait for those institutions to contact the ATO directly.”
Mr Chapman said it was understandable the ATO would call on taxpayers to hold off on filing their returns, as it makes things easier for the tax office’s systems, but equally it makes “perfect sense” for taxpayers to lodge early and get their return.
“If you have all the information you need, there’s absolutely no reason to wait – go ahead and lodge and lock in the new tax offset,” he said.
The only people who have good reason to wait before filing their taxes, Mr Chapman said, are those who rely on the pre-filled data.
‘Early birds’ more prone to mistakes
Responding to questions from The New Daily, a spokesperson for the ATO said it encourages people to file later “so that we can serve them better”, and cautioned those who file early get things wrong more often than those who wait.
“We know that many people will want to lodge earlier, and they can – especially if they already have all of the information they need to complete their return accurately,” the spokesperson said.
“However, we do know from previous years that the early birds who lodge in the first weeks of July are far more likely to make mistakes or submit incomplete data.”
The spokesperson added that the tax office expects to start issuing refunds “towards the end of this week, and will continue into next week, which is in line with the normal processing of refunds for this time of year”.
Delay requests falling on deaf ears
Despite the calls for taxpayers to wait a few more weeks, the ATO has already seen a surge in the number of people who have filed their taxes compared with the same time last year, with Mr Chapman pointing to the Low and Middle Income Offset (LAMIO) which passed Parliament on July 4.