Average Tax Refund Now Above $3000

Average Tax Refund Now Above $3000

When the ATO issued its first update on tax return processing for 2011, its figures suggested the average refund that people were receiving was a measly $8.38. As more returns get processed, that figure has changed dramatically.

The ATO has now separated figures for 2010-2011 from returns from earlier years, which goes a long way to explaining why that initial average was so low (delayed returns are more likely to owe money than be due a refund).

As of July 13, the ATO has received 570,000 2010-2011 tax returns, and processed 107,000 of them. Of those, 92,000 people got a refund, and the total value of the refund pool is $290 million. That’s an average refund of $3158. (I’d expect the average figure to drop over time — the incentive to submit a return early is much higher if you’re due a large sum).

Having processed less than 20% of returns, the ATO appears to be somewhat behind on its stated goal of dealing with 94% of electronic returns in 14 days. However, since the July 13 figure technically falls inside the 14-day period from July 1, a subsequent update might show a better result. We’ll have to wait and see.



  • Hit the nail on the head with “the incentive to submit a return early is much higher if you’re due a large sum”.

    You submit ASAP in July if you’re getting a refund. You submit the following May (via an agent) if you have to cough up.

  • Lucky them.. Myself and all my colleagues owe the ATO money this year. Even one of my colleagues who was putting extra away each pay has received a “bill” to pay the ATO…. we’re wondering what is happening that we are ALL ending up owing the ATO. We receive a salary.. so it’s not like we are earning commissions or adhoc pays or variable wages.. we’re scratching our heads.

  • My $90 estimated return wonders where the other $3000 is coming from.

    Note: My return is about as simple as it can get. 1 job, some uniform and chairty deductions, and that’s about it. So it would make sense that my PAYG is about right, and I don’t expect or warrant a large refund.

      • Yeah, I don’t know about that. Happy for you to point me in different directions, and I’ll admit I do err on the side of caution with deductions, but there really isn’t that much I am able to claim.

  • It’d be a bit difficult for them to process 94% of electronic returns by the 14th if some of those returns weren’t received until the 11th or 12th. Maybe they meant that 94% will be processed within 14 days of being received..?

    On a side note, I aim to have my refund be as small as possible. This means that I’ve had the money in my pocket all along, rather than the ATO benefitting from what is effectively an interest-free loan of my money over the past year.

    My estimated refund of $317.48 for 2010-11 is therefore almost spot on. 🙂

    I only wish that we could adopt one aspect of the income tax system used in the States, where employees choose the level of tax withheld from their pay (PAYG equivalent). Choose 0%, put ~20% from each paycheck into a high-interest savings account, pay whatever tax is due at the end of the year, and give yourself a “refund” with the difference plus any interest earned.

  • I was pleasantly surprised today, to find my ATO refund had been credited to my account within one week of submitting. If only my tax refund was somewhere around the current average… 😉

  • Why do you people even try to compare the amount of refunds you get from lodging your income tax return.

    What if someone got a refund of say $3k which may in part be due to them not claiming the tax free threshold when completing their PAYG withholding declaration form.

    What if their employer over withheld?

    Each person’s tax refund will depend upon their own personal circumstances. I am sure that the intent of this article is not to encourage people to disregard the application of the tax legislation when filing their income tax returns in order to obtain a refund over what you would be entitled.

    Mena – Does that mean you spent way too much in order to obtain deductions to give rise to your refund?

  • wahh, I am below average, but I too am telling myself that it’s only because they took the right amount out instead of ripping me off and giving it back to me later. I kinda would rather they rip me off though, I’m bad at saving money haha

  • Am i the only person who thinks maybe these $3k returns are probably due to the wealthier people with awesome accountants??

    See it’s kind of annoying to me to see people post on here about their crap returns and be happy with it, when I get the feeling their are people who don’t need the money but making HUGE HUGE returns for no other reason then selfish greed…

    • What would make you think that Andrew?

      Are you paying the same amount of tax that they are? If not would you pay more if they paid less?

      A return is a return and if you applied the law appropriately it will be what it is.

      • Magsin:

        Are you going to sit there and tell me those in lesser positions who don’t have the funds to hire a better accountant will be able to claim the same return as someone in a higher position who’s hired an account to really look into every taxable piece of income??

        You have to look no further then the famed Kerry Packer examples.. he should’ve been paying more taxes then anyone and yet didn’t? That is an extreme example obviously, but I wouldn’t be so naive to think it doesn’t happen on a lesser scale further down the ranks..

        Thus the greater majority of hard working Australians are very possibly giving up more of their disposable income and I believe that is unjust.

        Look at the comments to this post… most people did their own returns and were only able to manage a $100 return? really?

    • My partner and I are getting around 2.5K, because she was out of work for part of the year. It really doesn’t make up for the financial hardship that caused it, I promise.

      I have a friend who doesn’t claim the tax-free threshold so that every year he gets a lump sum, which he then uses for credit cards and new computers and the like.

    • My partner pays about $14000 a year in tax and one year he received only $150 of that. The best way to get a good return depending on your job is to buy things for work through out the year and claim the maximum amount of deductions you can.

    • personally, i am a terrible saver and receive large tax refunds because i intentionally pay lots of extra tax. I use it as a forced savings. i am guaranteed that the gov’t will not part with my savings as easily as i do!! i am by no means rich and i have my return done by an accountant to maximize my forced savings by writing off as many expenses tolerated by the ato (receipts kept to back up, of course. Anyway… give it a try!

  • Light487…

    Quite simply… if you have a decent amount of savings hence interest… you will in most cases owe the ATO go figure!

    Be sure to claim everything that you can to bring this down…

    • If they took into account my single income with mortgage and car loan plus all the cash that’s going out for insurances (though they do take the hospital cover into account at least, i.e. no medicare surcharge) then the $13 I earned in interest wouldn’t really matter.. 🙂 So no.. no big savings here.. barely scraping by on the earnings I do get.. and now they want me to pay an additional $290 because someone obviously screwed up in my payroll dept.


      One good thing about this is that I was no being shortchanged on payday.

  • It should be noted that the “higher tax bracket” only affects the portion of your income above said bracket, i.e. for an $85,000 income, only the $5,000 is in the 37% bracket; the first $80,000 is at 21.94%.

    The exception of course being when you go from $69,999 to $70,000, as this is where the MLS comes into play. “Fortunately” I don’t earn enough to have to worry about that. 🙂

  • Yeah I get a half decent refund back each year too as my Tax Dec that I have with my company says I have a HECS debt when in fact I finished paying it off a few years years ago – but this is like compulsory savings and I look forward to recieving it back each year. Sure I could put it in a high interest account instead of getting it interest free but at least this way I can’t touch it.

  • I lodged my tax on 5th July and still haven’t got it back. I am expecting a decent payout as I changed jobs and got taxed on annual leave payout. Desperately need the money.

  • I lodged my tax on the 6th of july through an accountant, wasnt recieved by ato till 13 july and still have not been refunded… i expect a large return!!

  • In my case doing the e-tax it looks like I own ATO around 2400$, this amount comes from Medicare plus the taxes on the bank savings. Does it sound normal to you?

  • This is the first year that i was actually expecting money back from the ATO. I did my own tax online via the ATO website and it estimated my refund to be $4050- which i was so excited about. I recieved a deposit from the ATO yesterdady and it was $1,700- less than half of what it estimated.

    How could it be so wrong??? I have done my tax myself online via that website for the last 3 years- and what ever was estimated- wa almost exactly the same amount that i recieved.

    Can anyone help with this- Has anyone experianced this before? I am hoping the remaining amount just opps its self into my bank hahaha!! yeah right!

  • I submitted mine on July 2nd and I am still waiting on my small return. I called them yesterday and they said there is noting wrogn with my return but i will need to wait another 14 days before calling again….

  • We pay extra tax every week so we get a few K back in lump sum and use it for extra thing during the year like a head start good way of saving if you get tempted you cant get your hands on it for a whole year…

  • My husband lodged his return on the 22nd July and he is still waiting. We lodged online and most are suppose to be completed within 14 days, we call the info line and get the same response “your return was received on the 22nd July, most returns are processed with 14 days however some require manual processing, please wait until the 21st August before enquiring again. We have never had to wait this long before.

  • I’ve always done my tax using etax. This year I was late, only lodging it after I got a reminder email from them. Usually I am one of the first to lodge. Mine always takes 6 weeks and over to come back. But all my friends and family get there’s in the 14 days.

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