ATO extends bushfire relief to SMSF lodgments
The ATO has announced an extended package of tax assistance for those affected by the bushfire crisis, including an extension to SMSF annual return lodgment dates for bushfire victims.
In a statement released on Monday, Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan said the new assistance package would cover those in affected local government areas in NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, which included 3.5 million individuals, businesses and SMSFs.
Those affected would now have until 28 May to lodge and pay tax returns, including SMSF annual returns and business activity statements. The new advice means SMSFs in bushfire-affected postcodes will no longer have to proactively seek an extension to the lodgment date of their fund’s annual return.
“If you’ve been impacted by these bushfires, we don’t want you to worry about your tax affairs. Now is the time for you, your family and your community. We’ll help you sort out your tax affairs later,” Mr Jordan said.
He added that the ATO would be fast-tracking any refunds due to taxpayers in bushfire-affected postcodes, and would be able to reissue destroyed or lost documents for bushfire victims.
The regulator would also not initiate debt recovery action for any taxpayers in affected areas with tax debts or outstanding obligations until at least 28 May, and would consider payment arrangements or debt relief for individuals experiencing serious hardship as a result of the fires.
Further, affected taxpayers were able to vary their income tax instalments to nil without penalties, including if they ended up in a tax payable situation for the quarter once they had lodged their tax return.
Mr Jordan noted that further assistance was also available by contacting the ATO’s Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218.
“It’s important to note that we recognise everyone’s situation is different,” he said.
“We understand there may be situations where additional support or extensions may be required beyond the automatic deferrals that we’ve announced.
“We’re standing by ready to work with people who have been impacted on a case-by-case basis, and I have made it clear to my staff that I expect them to be flexible, reasonable and pragmatic when considering each request on its merits.”
Automatic deferrals did not apply to large pay-as-you-go withholders, meaning employers would still need to meet their super guarantee obligations. However, large withholders could contact the ATO for assistance with their obligations if required.
The complete list of affected postcodes eligible for automatic extensions was available on the ATO website, the regulator said.