According to the Australian Taxation Office’s latest announcement, lodgement and payment deferrals will be automatically applied to company 2018–19 income tax returns, pushing back the due date to 5 June 2020.
SMSF 2018–19 annual returns are now due by 30 June 2020.
Furthermore, 2018–19 income tax returns for individuals, partnerships and trusts can also be lodged by the 5 June concessional due date, provided clients pay any liability by this date.
The ATO has also automatically deferred, to 25 June, the lodgement and payment due date for 2019–20 fringe benefits tax (FBT) annual returns.
The change of heart by the ATO comes after Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, CPA Australia, the Institute of Public Accountants, the Tax Institute and the Corporate Tax Association wrote a joint letter to the Commissioner of Taxation, calling for deferrals and penalty waivers in light of the evolving COVID-19 situation.
It is understood that Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar was also contacted for assistance on the issue.
“We’ve taken this issue through all the various forums and it took the might of the National Tax Liaison Group and the joint accounting bodies to get this over the line,” the IPA’s Tony Greco told My Business sister title Accountants Daily.
“They’ve recognised that the accounting profession is going to do the heavy lifting in relation to a lot of the stimulus measures.
“It is recognition that we are the messengers, we are the ones that have to navigate their clients through the measures and help them receive the government stimulus.”
The ATO has also taken on board the joint accounting bodies’ request to provide assurance to the tax profession on the 85 per cent lodgement benchmark.
“You will not be adversely affected if you do not meet the 85 per cent lodgement program performance benchmark, and we will be working pragmatically and flexibly to ensure that we provide the right support for impacted tax professionals,” the ATO said.
Applauding the ATO’s move, CA ANZ’s head of tax, Michael Croker, said that since the revised lodgement and payment dates still fall within the same financial year ending 30 June 2020, taxpayers need to make sure they do not let their tax obligations slip beyond that date.
“More than ever, Australia needs a well-functioning tax system and the ATO’s tolerance for missing lodgement and payment deadlines can only extend so far,” Mr Croker said.
He encouraged businesses struggling to find the cash to pay their tax to reach out to tax professionals.
“The worst thing a taxpayer struggling with the financial impact of COVID-19 can do is hide and hope the ATO goes away,” Mr Croker said.
The ATO, too, is encouraging tax agents and businesses that are behind with their lodgement program to contact the ATO as early as possible.