Tax assistance for people affected by Cyclone Debbie and ex-cyclone Debbie

Refunds will be fast-tracked for people affected by extreme weather and flooding caused by tropical cyclone Debbie and ex-Cyclone Debbie in Queensland and NSW, according to the ATO.

Taxpayers and their tax and BAS agents will also have additional time to lodge income tax returns and activity statements. Automatic deferrals of one month are now in place for tax lodgment and payment dates (excluding large pay as you go (PAYG) withholders) for people in identified postcodes. This means that those with income tax returns that were due 31 March 2017 now have until 30 April 2017 to lodge. Similarly, for monthly activity statements due 21 April 2017 the new lodgment and payment date is 21 May 2017, and for quarterly activity statements due 28 April 2017 the new lodgment and payment date is 28 May 2017.

Taxpayers whose business or residential addresses are in one of the identified affected postcodes do not need to apply for a deferral or faster refund; it will happen automatically. Taxpayers are advised to check the ATO website to see the new lodgment dates and check if their region is included. Those who are outside of the identified postcodes that have been impacted by the disaster can still contact the ATO for assistance on 1800 806 218.

The ATO is suspending debt recovery action against those with a tax debt until the end of May 2017. It is also offering a range of support measures, including:

  • tailored repayment arrangements
  • remission of interest where appropriate, and
  • interest-free repayment arrangements for eligible small businesses.

Further, the ATO may be able to release taxpayers from some or all of their debt if paying their tax debt would cause serious hardship — eg being unable to provide food and accommodation for themselves or their family. The ATO can also help reconstruct tax records where documents have been destroyed.

The ATO said that it will continue to review the ongoing impact of these disasters and any further assistance that may be required for the affected communities. More information is available at ato.gov.au/disaster.

Source: ATO media release and website update, 7 April 2017.