Lodging Income Tax Returns
It is the ATO who decides who needs to lodge annual income tax returns by what due date in what form, because the law is relatively silent on this matter.
Section 161 (1) of ITAA36 starts with a sweeping statement. Every person must lodge an income tax return.
s161 (1): Every person must, if required by the Commissioner …., give to the Commissioner a return for a year of income …
And a person in this context is not just a living individual. It can also be a company or other entity that is considered a person for legal purposes.
But s161 (2) tones it down.
s161 (2): The Commissioner may…exempt from liability to furnish returns such classes of persons not liable to pay income tax as the Commissioner sees fit,…
So who is exempt or not from lodging returns is in the hands of the Commissioner. And so can change. At the moment the exemption typically extends to certain welfare recipients and those whose income does not exceed the tax-free threshold.
The Commissioner gives notice in the Government Gazette about who needs to lodge and who doesn’t.
The form of the tax return is briefly mentioned in s161A (1).
s161A (1): The return must be in the approved form.
The Tax Administration Act adds a few more details in s388-50 of Schedule 1 to the TAA.
s388-50: A return… is in the approved form if… (a) it is in the form approved…by the Commissioner, (b) it contains a declaration signed …as the form requires, (c) it contains the information that the form requires…and (d) ….it is given in the manner that the Commissioner requires.
And that’s it basically. The rest is in the hands of the ATO. The ATO decides on the content as laws change. They decide what information they need to do their job.
The due date for income tax returns for individual taxpayers who self-prepare (ie those who do not engage a registered tax agent) is generally 31 October.
Where taxpayers have appointed a registered tax agent, extended lodgment dates are available in accordance with the ATO’s lodgment program.
Disclaimer: Tax Talks does not provide financial or tax advice. All information on Tax Talks is of a general nature only and might no longer be up to date or correct. You should seek professional accredited tax and financial advice when considering whether the information is suitable to your or your client’s circumstances.
Last Updated on 18 January 2019