Preparing for Tax Time 2017

The ATO advises that it will start full processing of 2017 income year tax returns on 7 July 2017, and that it expects to start paying refunds from 18 July 2017. They aim to finalise the majority of electronically-lodged returns within 12 business days of receipt.

The ATO warns longer than standard processing times can occur when:

  • There is a need to cross-check data with other government agencies (including Centrelink and Child Support);
  • The client has a debt obligation with the ATO;
  • The client is insolvent;
  • A Tax File Number (TFN) has been compromised; or
  • The ATO has queries about information provided in a tax return.

When these situations arise, the ATO will usually need to review the details, contact the tax agent and, where necessary, adjust the tax return.

Avoid common errors-

Since 1 July 2016, over 193,000 individual tax returns received via the electronic lodgment service (ELS) were delayed in processing due to incorrect or incomplete details, such as surname, year of birth and private health insurance policy details.

Other common errors include:

  • Providing insufficient or incorrect information – for example, not completing income test questions and spouse information;
  • Lodging duplicate returns for the same year – if a client has already lodged their tax return and needs to correct a mistake, they must request an amendment;
  • Repeating information – if information has been declared at a previous question, don’t repeat it as additional information; and
  • Including information from a prior year return that is not relevant for the current year return – if details are rolled over from a previous year’s return as recorded in tax software, make sure information that is no longer relevant is deleted, including additional information.
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