Bushfire Relief

How the ATO can help

The ATO has announced various measures to help businesses and individuals in local government areas impacted by the bushfires. These include:

  • automatic deferrals for lodgement of income tax, SMSF, FBT and excise returns and activity statements, and their associated payments, until 28 May 2020 (so there is no need to apply for a deferral);
  • automatic priority for any refunds due;
  • the remission of interest and penalties applied to tax debts since the commencement of the bushfires;
  • the suspension of debt recovery action – for taxpayers with a tax debt or outstanding obligation, the ATO will not institute recovery action until at least 28 May 2020; and
  • the temporary suspension of current audit activity.

(https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Dealing-with-disasters/In-detail/Specific-disasters/Bushfires-2019-20/ )

These measures apply to businesses, individuals and self-managed funds in the local government areas impacted by the bushfires. The ATO website lists the affected postcodes. Note that the deferrals do not apply to large withholders.

Here is the link to the postcodes:

(https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Dealing-with-disasters/In-detail/Specific-disasters/Bushfires-2019-20/?anchor=Ifyourpostcodeisnotinthislist#Ifyourpostcodeisnotinthislist )

If you have lost documents in a bushfire, or they are damaged, the ATO can reissue income tax returns, business activity statements and notices of assessment, help you re-construct tax records and help you find your tax file number.

If you are impacted by the bushfires but you are not in an affected postcode (as included in the list on the ATO website) or are a large withholder, you can call the ATO’s Emergency Support infoline on 1800 806 218 for assistance. The Commissioner of Taxation, Mr Chris Jordan, has said that he expects ATO staff to be “flexible, reasonable and pragmatic” when considering each request for assistance.

Ref: TaxWise Business February 2020

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