Why the tax office doesn’t want you to use myTax to submit your return yet

Angus Kidman 21 July 2016

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The ATO is urging people planning to submit electronically to hold back.

In theory, if you want to submit your tax return yourself using the Australian Taxation Office's online myTax service, you can do so from 1 July, the very first day of the new financial year. You'll have to wait at least until you receive your payment summary from your employer, which has to happen by 14 July each year.

By mid-July, more than 500,000 people had already submitted their return using myTax. While it's true that the earlier you submit, the sooner you'll get any refund owed to you, the ATO itself recommends people hold back.

"My big tip to people planning to use myTax is to hold off until August. By this time, we will have received most of the data we need from employers, banks, government agencies and other third parties to pre-fill tax returns," ATO assistant commissioner Graham Whyte said in a recent media statement. Pre-filling not only saves you time, it's also likely to result in faster processing.

And delays really can be an issue. Earlier this month, Medibank Private confirmed that a technical problem meant that it would be delaying the issue of tax statements to its customers. These were supposed to be issued by mid-July, but as of today, the insurer says that some customers won't receive theirs until 31 July. If you're in that group, then you can't submit a complete return yet, whether that's through myTax or via your accountant or tax agent.

This year has seen the retirement of the ATO's e-tax software in favour of the browser-based myTax system. This has some neat tricks, such as automatically suggesting you double-check your deductions if they're radically different to other people in the same occupation. The ATO has also said it will be carefully examining rental property deductions.

Past history suggests that around three-quarters of Australians will end up using an agent or accountant. If you're part of the other 25%, it does seem sensible to hang back if you know there's more information likely to be pre-filled. Happy tax time!

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

Picture: Shutterstock

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