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PSA: Sort your tax return by 31 October or risk a $313 fine – every 28 days!

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Lodge by the 31st or register with an accountant. Otherwise the ATO can fine you up to $1,565.

If you've been putting off lodging your tax return, you're 2 weeks away from making an expensive mistake.

31 October is the deadline for tax returns. Past this date, the ATO could slug you with a $313 fine, or one penalty unit, every 28 days you delay your tax return.

This is capped at 5 penalty units, meaning if you completely ignore your tax return the fine could go as high as $1,565.

There are 2 ways to avoid a fine:

  1. Do your tax return! Submit it by 31 October.
  2. Get an accountant. You need to register with an accountant by 31 October.

If you register with an accountant you don't have to lodge a tax return until May 2024. This buys you plenty of time and saves you a fine.

Penalties are applied automatically. But while you wouldn't want to push your luck, the ATO is pretty lenient.

H&R Block Director of Tax Communications Mark Chaman says a penalty "is not normally applied to returns that either have a nil result or generate a refund."

Doing your tax return early is a smart move. Any money you're owed in a tax return is your money. And the sooner you get it in your account the sooner you can use it.

I put mine straight into my offset account to reduce the amount of interest I pay on my home loan. You could also stick it in a high interest savings account and get a rate above 5%. Every day and every dollar counts with compound interest.

This year is a tough one for a lot of Australian taxpayers. Not only are we in the middle of a cost of living crisis, but the end of the temporary Low and Middle Income Tax Offset means some of us are paying $1,500 more in tax than we did last year.

And that has eaten into people's returns. Some taxpayers have even ended up owing money after submitting their tax returns.

Claiming as much as you can through legitimate deductions, and getting the help of a tax professional increase your chances of getting a return.

And avoiding a $313 fine helps too.

Working from home? Make sure you know how to claim your expenses.

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