Tax offices the world over have a reputation for being suspicious of taxpayers and vengeful against wrongdoers, but the reality is that – at least in Australia – the Australian Tax Office (ATO) understands that people do sometimes make a legitimate mistake on their tax return. As a result, the ATO provides a process to amend your tax return
Let’s be clear, this isn’t a case that if you happen to get audited you are allowed to say, “Oops! My mistake. I actually earned more than I stated on my return.”
However, if you have an error like failing to declare income, or claiming deductions that you aren’t entitled to, you can contact the ATO (as soon as possible) to request an amendment to your tax return. There are two options, either an online request, or a request in writing.
- Request an online amendment: this option is available if you have a myGov account (if you don’t, you can register here). Once you login to your account, you can access the tax return you have lodged and correct the errors directly. You can also add or delete records if required, but you won’t need to provide any supporting documentation at this point. Once you have made all the necessary amendments, click on the ‘calculate’ button and the ATO will reassess your return and inform you whether you will receive a refund or will need to make a payment. This process will generally be completed within twenty days.
- Make a written request for an amendment: if you don’t have access to a computer and the Internet, you will need to send in a written request for an amendment. The best option in this situation is to use a ‘Request for amendment of income tax return for individuals’ form; although you can simply write a letter but you will need to have all the necessary information that the ATO requires. This information should include your name and address, your phone and tax file number, and the tax year that needs amending – plus the reason for the amendment, an item number and the amount of the amendment. As per the ATO website, it also requires a signed declaration stating:‘I declare that: all the information I have given in this letter, including any attachments, is true and correct and I have the necessary receipts and/or other records to support my claims for amendment’.A written amendment can take up to 50 days to process.
If you are concerned that you have filed an incorrect tax return, you should contact the ATO or your Tax Agent as soon as possible.
By Jennifer Lowe