ATO: Millions in unclaimed tax refunds as about 200,000 taxpayers fail to lodge returns

Tax time

It's time to focus on your tax return.

Hundreds of thousands of Aussies could be missing out on tax refunds this year because they failed to lodge a return with the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

The ATO has run the numbers on how many salary and wage owners did not file a return but were likely to have either been due for a refund or owed a small amount of tax, finding around 200,000 people have likely been shortchanged.

“Collectively, these clients have millions of dollars of unclaimed refunds,” ATO assistant commissioner Kath Anderson said in a statement.

Anderson said some Aussies didn’t lodge returns because they haven’t realised they need to, or others may be worried about lodging returns because they haven’t done so for several years.

“The key thing to remember is that the ATO is here to help; we want all taxpayers to get it right, and we will assist them to do so,” Anderson said.

Anderson said just over 2.7 million taxpayers have lodged their returns so far this year via the MyTax platform, while almost 4.3 million lodged via agents.

Citizens have until 31 October to either lodge their own return or make sure they’re on an agent’s books.

Most returns are processed in less than two weeks, with 98% of refunds sent out within 12 business days this year.

For those with debts, payment plans are available.

“The ATO will help people who may have difficulties paying a tax debt, and work with you to tailor a payment plan to your circumstances. Some taxpayers may even be able to set up a payment plan online depending on their circumstances,” Anderson said.

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