Tax Refunds: Average Refund Inches Up To $2303

Good news in the latest update from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO): more than 90% of people whose 2010-11 returns have been processed have got a refund. Slightly less good news: only 60% of the returns submitted have been processed.

When we last checked on the ATO’s progress, the average refund was $2261. As of August 2, a total of 2.8 million returns had been received, 1.7 million have been finalised, 1.6 million had been processed, and the total refund pool was $3.7 billion. That makes for an average return of $2303 — a very slight rise. (The average doesn’t really tell you what will happen with your own return, but it does indicate why we’re unlikely in Australia to ever move to a system where most people don’t submit tax returns.)

What those figures also suggest is that the ATO has processed approximately 60 per cent of the returns it has received. Electronically submitted returns are generally supposed to receive a refund within 14 days — something that would seem challenging with that overall proportion, though the ATO statement says processing is “continuing according to schedule” and the figures would also include paper returns. In a single week the ATO issued refunds for 567,000 returns out of 792,000 received for 2010-11, which gives a slightly better result of around 70 per cent.

Final fact: just over 1 million returns have been submitted via e-tax, which means just under a third of them. That proportion is likely to drop in the long run (since people using a tax agent often have longer to submit their returns).


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