Yes, paying tax sucks. But getting caught out for cheating on your tax return sucks even worse. And trust us, you’re going to get caught… Here’s what not to do when lodging your tax return.
You’re smart. But are you ATO-level smart? Nope. You’re not. When you try to take on the ATO by cheating on your tax return, you take on a whole army of people who are actually paid to make sure that YOU’RE paying your dues.
And we haven’t even mentioned the extremely sophisticated data-matching technology these guys employ yet. They can tell when you’ve left things off your return (like the income from your side hustle), or when you’re claiming higher than average deductions for people in your occupation.
And, the penalties if you get caught can be pretty harsh. Not only will the ATO make you pay back any tax refund you weren’t entitled to, but they can also levy interest and penalties, which can run into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Here are some tips to avoid beef with the ATO, courtesy from the tax-savvy team at Etax.com.au:
- Declare ALL of your income. The ATO knows about that second job you had, the money you got from Centrelink as well as those Uber or Airtasker payments. It probably even knows about the Jam Jar hidden in your sock drawer. No jokes.
- Be careful what you claim for. The ATO compares the deductions you claim for with other people doing the same jobs as you. If you’re claiming more than them, it’s likely to raise some red flags! Always make sure you have receipts/evidence for any claims you make.
- Be aware of – and pay off – existing debt. All of the government departments talk to each other and have first dibs on your refund each year. For example: if you owe Centrelink money, they’ll use your tax refund to pay down your debt before sending you what’s left. And they won’t ask you if it’s okay before doing so, either.
- Keep your personal details updated. If you’ve gotten married or changed your surname since your last tax return, and you haven’t updated your details at the ATO, your return could be delayed as your name no longer matches their records.
- Lodge old, overdue tax returns. If you’ve been dragging your feet and have overdue tax returns to lodge, the ATO can sometimes delay processing of your return while they wait for you to get your affairs up to date.
- Include your partner – and use their correct details. If you have a spouse and you’ve been living together for more than 12 months (or are married), you need to include their details on your tax return.
- Remember your bank interest. Any bank interest you make from your savings account is considered as income by the ATO. That means it needs to go on your return! Depressing, we know.
- Double check that your employer has actually sent your PAYG/Payment Summary to the ATO. They’re supposed to, but sometimes mistakes are made. They won’t suffer from the hassle, though – you will. So rather double check.
Find out more about how to do your taxes here: