Tax return deadline: When is my tax return due?

Your 2019/20 tax return is due by 15 May 2021 if you're using a tax agent.

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Your 2019/20 tax return was due in October 2020, but you can still lodge it by 15 May 2021 if you're lodging with a tax agent. Did you miss the deadline to lodge your tax return? Don't worry, if you register with a tax agent they can help you complete this years tax return as well as your as well as any other years you might have missed.

The cost of using a tax agent is completely tax deductable regardless of when you lodge your return. If you haven't used a tax agent before, or if you've switching to a new tax agent, you do need to be on their books by 31 October to get the six month extension until May. This just means you need to contact them and either book an appointment or register your details on their online portal.

When do I need to lodge my 2019/20 tax return?

  • By October 31 2020 (if lodging yourself - this has already passed!)
  • By 15 May 2021 (if lodging through a tax agent – conditions apply, see text for details)

Register with a tax agent online to lock in an extension.

Name Product Fee for unlimited income items (Wages) Deduction Item Fees Online tax returns
FinTax Group
$0 for up to $1000 of deductions
$65 for an investment property
Australia wide
Lodge individual & company tax returns online or in-person. Fast online form with additional options to complete tax returns for investment properties, sole trader tax and share investments.
Everest Tax & Business Advisors
Business tax: starting from $250
General deductions: $0
For motor vehicle expenses: $15
Australia wide
A boutique firm that provides personalised experiences for all customers. Ideal option for individuals and small businesses based in Perth.
One Minute Tax
Australia wide
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $20. Lodge individual & company tax returns. Fast online form & free live chat. Special offer for business owners: Register your new company for only $499 (includes $488 worth of government fees and $100 cashback into your new business bank account). Click 'Go to site' to find out more. T&Cs apply.
$0 for up to 2 deductions
$29 for additional deductions
Australia wide
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $29. Online and in-person tax services for individuals, sole traders and companies.
Hotman & Brown
Business tax: starting from $179
$29 for up to 2 deductions
Additional $29 for extra deductions
Option to pay with your tax refund for an extra fee of $29. Basic tax returns over the phone Australia-wide. In-person individual and business tax returns in Melbourne.
Bennetts Tax & BAS service
finder Exclusive: $5 discount
$0 for all work related deductions
Australia wide
finder Exclusive: $5 discount when you apply for a tax return with Bennetts Tax through finder. Click 'Go to site' and complete the contact form to find out more. Income item fee includes returns on interest, dividends, Superannuation and pension. A flexible option for individuals, sole traders and companies.

Compare up to 4 providers

*This is the minimum fee charged for income item tax returns. The price listed on this table is subject to terms and conditions. To find out more or to receive an accurate quote for your tax return, please visit the agent's website to submit an enquiry.

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When is the tax return deadline?

The tax return deadline if you’re lodging your tax return yourself is October 31 (read our comparison on lodging yourself versus using a tax agent). In other words, your tax return for the financial year from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020 must be filed by 31 October 2020.

However, if you lodge your tax return through a registered tax agent, the rules are a little different. Tax agents have a special facility with the ATO that allows them to lodge a return on your behalf after the October 31 deadline – but you usually need to be registered with a tax agent by October 31 in order to take advantage of this extended deadline. If you haven't yet registered with a tax agent and you've missed the deadline, make an appointment to lodge your return anyway - it's better to lodge it late than to not lodge it at all.

While the deadline for lodging through a tax agent varies depending on your personal circumstances, you potentially have until mid-May the following year to lodge your return – an extension of more than six months when compared to the normal deadline. So when filing your return for the 2019/20 financial year, the deadline is 15 May 2021 when submitting through an agent.

However, different rules apply if you lodge through a tax agent and you had tax payable of $20,000 or more in the previous financial year. If this is the case, the deadline moves forward slightly to March 31 the following year.

And if you have one or more unlodged tax returns from earlier years, you will be ineligible for the extended tax deadline and will need to submit your returns (this year’s return and the outstanding earlier returns) by October 31.

Who sets the tax return deadline?

The income tax return deadline is set by the ATO. As the Australian Government’s principal revenue collection agency, it’s the ATO’s job to collect tax from all income-earning Australians. The deadline is in place to ensure that all taxpayers pay the money they owe the government in a timely fashion, and that you receive any refund you may be entitled to.

Possible reasons for missing the tax return deadline

There are several reasons why you might have missed the ATO’s tax return deadline, such as:

  • You were travelling overseas and didn’t submit your return in time
  • You didn’t realise you needed to file a tax return until it was too late
  • You forgot to file your return in time
  • You were worried you would be burdened with a tax debt that you’d be unable to afford
  • You failed to lodge because you were suffering from a serious illness
  • You failed to lodge due to a natural disaster
  • You failed to lodge due to a family breakdown

What to do if you miss the deadline

If the deadline has passed and you haven’t filed your return, the best thing you can do is lodge your return with the ATO as soon as possible. A tax agents can help you lodge any late tax returns you have. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, you may be hit with a late lodgment penalty – and this penalty increases the longer you wait to submit your return.

If you keep putting it off, the penalty you’ll be required to pay will only increase and you may eventually face prosecution. With this in mind, it’s worth your while to lodge your return as soon as possible and minimise the penalties that may apply.

The good news is that, if you have a good history of lodging your returns and paying any ATO debts on time, you may be able to avoid the late lodgment penalty. However, you will need to have a good reason for missing the deadline, and the sooner after the deadline you lodge your return the better.

What penalties apply if you miss the tax return deadline?

If you fail to lodge a return or statement with the ATO on time, you may need to pay a failure to lodge (FTL) penalty. For individuals, the FTL penalty is calculated at the rate of one penalty unit for each period of 28 days (or part thereof) that your return is overdue, up to a maximum of five penalty units. So if you’re late lodging your return for the 2018-19 financial year, the following fees could apply:

  • If your return is up to 28 days late: $210 fine
  • If your return is 29-56 days late: $420 fine
  • If your return is 57-84 days late: $630 fine
  • If your return is 85-112 days late: $840 fine
  • If your return is more than 112 days late: $1,050

If you’ve failed to lodge your return in time, the ATO will notify you in writing or over the phone. The ATO also doesn’t generally apply penalties in isolated cases of late lodgment, and will take your personal circumstances and history of compliance into account before deciding on the best course of action.

In addition, if you lodge your return after the deadline and incur a debt, the ATO will charge you interest on that debt from the date it was due until you end up paying it. The general interest charge (GIC) rate that applies to unpaid tax liabilities is reviewed quarterly, and for July to September 2017 was set at 8.73% p.a.

Frequently asked questions about the tax return deadline

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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    ConcernedApril 6, 2019

    I have a friend who has several years’ outstanding tax returns that he needs to lodge. He is working on getting his info together but is ‘dragging his feet’, despite being ‘nagged’ by me and our close group of friends to get his act together. He plans to travel overseas on a holiday in the next couple of months, and someone else has told us that he could be stopped from departing Australia on his holiday because he has outstanding tax returns. I hadn’t heard of this before, so thought it best to check with someone who might actually know. Any clarification you can give will be much appreciated.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaApril 7, 2019Staff

      Hi Concerned friend,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. I hope all is well with you. 😃

      Yes, the ATO has the power to stop a taxpayer from leaving the country if they have outstanding tax returns or they owe a tax debt. So, there’s a chance for your friend from being stopped from leaving the country. The ATO can issue Departure Prohibition Order (DPO) and this order would require you to fully pay the tax debt before your friend can leave the country again.

      However, please note that the DPO is not automatically created for people who have a tax debt. For this reason, if the ATO hasn’t issued a DPO for your friend, then your friend might still be able to leave the country.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!


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