Australians are being urged to file their tax returns by October 31.
Australians are being urged to file their tax returns by October 31.

Bizarre reasons we don’t file our tax returns

It's no longer a case of the dog ate my homework, it's now a case of a mouse ate my receipts.

Australians have been warned they have less than two weeks to file their tax returns for the 2018/19 financial year or risk being penalised.

Despite this Australians are coming up with many weird and wacky excuses for failing to lodge receipts and submit their returns in time.

The ATO said some of the latest tall stories included:

• A mouse broke into my car and ate my receipts.

• I left my windows down at the car wash and the water damaged my receipts.

• Someone stole my pants and my receipts were in the pockets.

• I've got 'holiday brain' and forgot to lodge my return.

• I don't know what a tax return is.

However the Coalition government's $158 million tax cuts package meant many Australians were quicker to file their returns this year.

Those earning between $48,000 and $90,000 would be given an offset of $1080 and then this amount decreased depending on a person's annual income, which has enticed people to lodge.

Australians are using excuses including the mouse ate my receipts when going to file their tax returns.
Australians are using excuses including the mouse ate my receipts when going to file their tax returns.

The ATO's assistant commissioner, Karen Foat, said 8.7 million individuals had already lodged their returns for the 2018/19 financial year, but 1.3 million had not yet filed.

"You need to either lodge or be on the books of a tax agent by October 31," she said.

"People have a tendency even if they are getting a return to not lodge on time."

In 2018 about 475,000 taxpayers who completed their returns lodged late and of those, more than 300,000 had missed out on refunds as a result.

H & R Block director of communication Mark Chapman said coming up with excuses like "the hamster ate my receipts" would never fly with the ATO.

"You should get skates on and file, but there are some limited situations where the ATO will give people some leeway," he said.

"That tends to be in situations where there's either serious illness or death."

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Ms Foat also urged people to ensure they kept their tax receipts and information organised because it could make tax time much easier and less stressful.

She said for self-lodgers using the ATO's portal myTax was easy to follow and people could file back at far as 2016 using this tool.

"And if you even just have salary, interest and wages you can even go back to 2014," Ms Foat said.

ATO figures showed the average tax return so far this year was $2700.

People who fail to lodge on time risk penalties.

Those lodging with an agent have until May next year to complete their 2018/19 tax return.

 

sophie.elsworth@news.com.au

@sophieelsworth