Not Going To Make October’s Tax Deadline? Here’s How To Avoid A Fine

Not Going To Make October’s Tax Deadline? Here’s How To Avoid A Fine
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If you plan to lodge your tax return yourself, you need to be aware that the deadline for lodging your return is only two weeks away. The latest date for self-lodgers to get their tax returns in to the ATO is 31 October 2017.

If you lodge after that date, you run the risk of incurring a late lodgment penalty of up to $1050. Here’s what you need to know.

Taxpayers who use a tax agent can often lodge well beyond that deadline without penalty. The ATO gives tax agents concessional extended deadlines which mean that they can lodge returns on behalf of clients up to 15 May 2018 without incurring any penalty.

If you think you may not be able to meet the 31 October deadline, you should now be giving serious thought to visiting a tax agent. You must be registered with the agent by 31 October in order to benefit from the extended deadline.

Self-lodgers who fail to lodge by 31 October could be hit with an immediate late lodgement penalty of $210, increasing by a further $210 for each successive 28 day period that the return remains outstanding, up to a maximum of $1050.

With only a couple of weeks left to go, you might well be starting to feel the pressure if you haven’t yet started your return and should really be considering using a tax agent, particularly if you have been deterred from completing your return so far by the complexity of the task.

Not lodged your 2016 return yet? The bad news is that if you have a return outstanding from an earlier year, like 2016, you can’t take advantage of the extended tax agent deadlines for your 2017 return, even if you use a tax agent.

So, you must lodge this year’s return by 31 October 2017 in order to avoid a late-lodgement penalty.

And, whilst you’re about it, it makes sense to get any prior year returns done too. Don’t worry if you’re missing information about your income and/or deductions for those earlier years. Your tax agent will typically be able to help by drawing on information already held by the ATO and advising you on what deductions you can claim.

Mark Chapman is H&R Block’s director of tax communications with more than 20 years experience as a tax adviser, including seven years as a senior director for the ATO.


  • “As a rule, a penalty will not be applied to a late-lodged tax return, FBT return, annual GST return or activity statement if the lodgment results in either a refund or a nil result…”


    Quite disgraceful and misleading for the author of this article to not mention this fact as he uses scare tactics to drum up some business. Suffice to say I won’t be rushing off to get H&R Block to do my tax return anytime soon.

    • On paper he’s right though. The laws do allow for a late lodgement penalty to be applied as soon as November 1, and in the wrong set of circumstances might be applied. Being a day late is going to be the least of your problems if that happens though.

      Penalties were changed a while back to be based on ‘units’ and not whether you get a refund or not, so technically they can impose the penalties as soon as its late.

      Reality is that it takes a fair bit more before a late lodgement penalty gets imposed. There really needs to be several layers of action before someone is pissed off enough to impose it. Which, outside the occasional automatic process, takes years to get to.

      They don’t start with the big stick these days so in the end, yeah, its a bit misleading and/or self serving to represent it that way. So while its possible as a worst case scenario, in reality its not a concern.

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