The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has announced plans that it will be supporting first-time share and exchange-traded funds (ETF) investors to lodge their tax returns and avoid errors that in many cases result in delays in refunds arriving in the taxpayer’s bank account.

The ATO said in a statement that it is common for first-time investors to misunderstand the tax obligations associated with reporting capital gains from the sale of shares and income in the form of dividends and distributions.

Tim Loh, the assistant commissioner for the ATO, outlined that the tax office is very much aware that the increase of micro-investment platforms has helped a record number of new investors enter the market.

“Unfortunately, first-time investors often don’t understand their taxation obligations, don’t keep appropriate records and are more likely to make mistakes when lodging their tax returns,” said ATO Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh.

The ATO receives information from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), brokers, exchanges, and share registries on dividend payments and the purchase and sale of shares. For example, this year at tax time, information on 5.8 million transactions will automatically be added to the tax returns of 612,000 taxpayers.

“While this data makes tax time much simpler, it is still important for investors to check that all their relevant data has been included,” said ATO Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh.

The ATO is encouraging every taxpayer to make sure that all relevant data has been included in their tax return before lodging or make sure their registered tax agent has all the necessary information before lodging.

“Even the best registered tax agents can only work with the information they are given,” said Tim Loh.

ATO Announces Plans New Lodgement Support For Tax Agents

On Friday 20th August, the ATO deputy commissioner Hoa Wood published an open letter to tax agents across the country announcing that practitioners would soon be able to request a deferral for a small number of clients from September onwards.

“If you need some extra time to lodge a small number of client obligations, from September, you will be able to call us to request extra time to lodge for up to five clients,” said ATO deputy commissioner Hoa Wood.

The announcement proceeds the ATO’s decision to offer similar support for tax agents who were struggling with their lodgement deadlines in May.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put pressure on tax agents, the ATO and agent-assessed deferrals will also continue to be on offer.

“We understand that COVID-19 continues to put pressure on you, your practice, and your clients. Personalized support is available to all tax professionals whenever you need it. Our supported lodgment program is available for when you have been affected by issues such as ill-health, the loss of a key staff member, COVID-19, or if you are generally overwhelmed. With your help, we can co-design a lodgment plan to help get your lodgment program back on track for your entire practice,” said Ms. Wood.

“I’d like to thank you for all your hard work in assisting your clients to navigate the difficulties that continue to affect so many. The support you have provided, while facing your own obstacles, has not gone unnoticed,” said Ms. Wood.

The ATO’s lodgment support has come following a huge increase in workloads for tax agents as a result of the introduction of COVID-19 support measures from state governments which relies heavily on the accountant’s expertise to be understood.

The stress caused by the pandemic and ongoing lockdown restrictions means that, compounded by ongoing lockdown restrictions, has resulted in practitioners demanding a review of the 85 percent on-time lodgment requirement. Just remember that ATO announces plans to help first-time investors.