Young businesswoman in tight deadline conceptOur office was absolutely swamped with panicking income-earners who were worried about having missed the October 31 tax return filing deadline, so I think it’s worth clarifying a few things about the deadlines, such as who they apply to and when the various deadlines are.

First of all, the October 31 deadline is for individuals who are filing their own tax return directly with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

If you are using the services of a tax agent, then that deadline doesn’t apply to you. Most individual tax returns being filed by a tax agent aren’t due until March 31 the following year (for example a 2015/2016 financial year return would be due in March 2017).

Note that I used the term ‘tax agent’ rather than ‘accountant’ in the previous paragraph, because not all accountants are registered with the ATO as tax agents. If someone is doing your tax return and they aren’t a registered tax agent, then they are basically acting as someone who is just helping you to file your own tax return (they can’t charge you for their services), so the October 31 deadline would still be applicable. It is pretty important to check this before using someone to file a return on your behalf, because registered tax agents are the only people allowed to charge a fee to prepare and lodge your tax return.

If you aren’t required to pay any tax (for example if your taxable income is under the tax-free threshold) then you don’t need to file a tax return until June 5. You may think this is an unnecessary chore, but even though you won’t have a tax bill, filing your return will allow the ATO to cross-reference and confirm your income against other returns (such as your employer’s).

If you run a business, it really depends how much you are making and whether you are registered for GST with regard to tax return due dates. If you expect to earn less than $75,000 in the tax year, then you only need to file an annual return and have the option of whether or not to register for GST.

If you earn more than $75,000 but less than $20 million, you are required to register for GST and file a quarterly business activity statement (BAS), and if you earn over $20 million, you need to file a monthly GST report and BAS. Quarterly due dates are 28 October, 28 February, 28 April and 28 July.

If you are unsure when your tax return is due or need assistance completing your return, contact a professional to discuss your options.

By Jennifer Lowe

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