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Bushfire victims given tax reprieve

NSW bushfire destruction 2019

“People affected by the fires should focus on getting their other affairs in order and not worry about their tax obligations,” the ATO has said after giving automatic deferrals to those affected.

People who have been impacted by the bushfires devastating parts of NSW and Queensland have been given a two-month lodgement and payment deferral for their tax liabilities.

The ATO said this deferral will cover 16 local government areas, comprising Noosa and Livingstone in Queensland and the following areas of NSW:

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  • Bellingen
  • Clarence Valley
  • Coffs Harbour
  • Glen Innes
  • Severn
  • Kempsey
  • Inverell
  • Mid Coast
  • Nambucca
  • Port Macquarie-Hastings
  • Richmond Valley
  • Tenterfield
  • Uralla
  • Walcha

“We have applied automatic lodgement and payment deferrals to postcodes impacted by the fires, meaning if you’ve been impacted by the fires, you don’t need to contact the ATO or your tax professional — we’ve already done it for you,” said acting deputy commissioner Andrew Watson.

That deferral includes for businesses operating within the disaster zones, which will see their quarterly BAS deadline automatically extended to 28 January 2020, regardless of whether the normal deadline would have been 11 November or 28 November.

Monthly BAS lodgers will also receive the two-month deferral, to 21 January 2020.

However, employers are being advised that the automatic deferral for affected areas does not extend superannuation guarantee (SG) obligations, nor does it apply to large pay-as-you-go withholders.

For those who had received a personal income tax bill, that would have been due to be paid by this Thursday (21 November), that will now fall due on 21 January.

Mr Watson said that victims of the bushfires who may need more assistance, or indeed anyone with concerns over their tax affairs, should reach out to the ATO for additional support by phone on 1800 806 218.

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“You can also discuss your options with your registered tax professional, if you have one,” he said.

Additional deferrals and other assistance may also be considered going forward, with the ATO to continue monitoring the ongoing situation.

Are your ABN details up to date?

The Tax Office is separately urging all business owners to keep their Australian Business Number (ABN) details up to date, given that they play a role in disaster assistance.

According to the ATO, an ABN is used:

  • for identification purposes by emergency services and government
  • by governments for allocating financial disaster relief to help businesses recover

The details can also be checked for verification when a business applies for a loan or grant.

ABN updates should be made within 28 days of a change being made, such as a change of address.

Updating an ABN can be done through the Australian Business Register website.

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