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What's Scarier Than Halloween? Not Lodging Your Tax Return By October 31!

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It is doubtful the Australian Taxation Office had Halloween in mind when they originally set October 31 as the income tax return lodgement deadline. However, the fact remains that the clock is ticking for you to get your return in on time. As someone who is not ready to file before the deadline, this can be a very stressful time for you. So when you're wondering what to do, here are two paths that you can follow in the days ahead.

Filing Late

Filing late is one of two options open to you right now, but there are penalties if you choose this path of action. Penalties for late lodgement apply if you are choosing to self-lodge your tax return, and it does not matter if you are choosing to do a paper return or an electronic one.

The initial penalty that is applied to your tax account after the October 31 deadline is $180. Once the failure to lodge penalty has been applied, it increases by this amount every 28 days that the tax return remains not lodged. A maximum of five failure to lodge penalties could be applied to your account, which equals a fine of $900. Remember that penalties are deducted from any tax refund that is owed to you, so you could see a significant reduction in your refund check because you filed late.

However, you do have a better option open to you if you act right now.

Register With A Tax Agent

If you register with a tax agent before the October 31 deadline, and allow them to prepare your tax return for you, they can lodge past this date with no penalty to you. In fact, their lodgement date can be as late as 15 May, 2016 if you don't trigger any other earlier filing conditions under the ATO rules.

To take advantage of this, you need to contact a registered tax accountant, such as those at CMA Chartered Accountants. You can check with the Tax Practitioners Board whether the agent you have in mind is a registered tax agent, as registered agents are the only people who can collect a fee from you for the preparation of your tax return. If the person you have in mind is not registered, don't pay them.

One phone call to register with a tax agent could save you up to $900 in penalties if you are not ready to lodge your tax return now. This is not a chore that can be put off any longer, and taking action now will stop the ATO from coming out to haunt you this Halloween.