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ATO reveals worst excuses for late lodgement

Alarm clock

The Australian Taxation Office has issued a warning about lodging annual tax returns on time, while simultaneously revealing some of the most creative and outlandish excuses it has received for late lodgement.

In issuing its annual warning to individual taxpayers about the impending 31 October deadline to lodge returns, ATO assistant commissioner Kath Anderson released some of the funny, bizarre and downright dishonest justifications people have used to try and avoid penalties for being late with their tax return.

“My paperwork flew out the car window when I was on my way to see the accountant” sounds much like the adult version of “the dog ate my homework”.


Then there was the man who claimed that “my ex-wife burnt everything belonging to me, including all of my tax records, while another received the sympathies of the ATO officer on hearing that his father had recently died – until the officer found case notes revealing he had used the same excuse more than a year earlier.

Another man was asked why he had not lodged any tax returns between 2008 and 2015, to which he replied that he suffered a back injury in 2016.

However, the favourite among the My Business team has to be this one:

“My accountant has gone to prison. He is working on it, but it’s taking longer than normal because he can’t access a computer.”

According to Ms Anderson, the fear of a tax bill is often the reason for putting off lodging a return.

“We know some people put off lodging because they think they’ll owe money, and they don’t realise that the payment will be due on 21 November regardless of when they lodge,” she said.



“Agents are able to lodge your return after 31 October, but only if you are on your agent’s books before then. This is especially important to remember if you’re using an agent for the first time or are using a different agent this year.”

Ms Anderson added that it is possible – and encouraged – to update your return if you discover a mistake after it is submitted.

“You can quickly and easily make an amendment online using myTax or by contacting your registered tax agent,” she said.

The ATO has previously warned that a popular tax deduction is firmly in its sights for auditing this year, and also revealed some of the more outrageous tax claims people have tried to make.

Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016. 

The two-time Publish Awards finalist has an extensive journalistic career across business, property and finance, including a four-year stint in the UK. Email Adam at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ATO reveals worst excuses for late lodgement
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