People impacted by the recent devastating bushfires in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania have access to tax assistance as part of the whole-of-government response to the disaster.

Approximately three and a half million businesses, individuals, and self-managed superannuation funds in impacted local government areas will now have until 28 May 2020 to lodge and pay business activity statements and income tax returns.

The Australian Taxation Office is automatically fast tracking any refunds that are due to taxpayers in the impacted regions and remitting any interest and penalties applied to tax debts since the commencement of the bushfires that have been applied to accounts of individuals and businesses located in impacted regions.

For those taxpayers in affected areas with a tax debt or outstanding obligation, the ATO will not initiate debt recovery action until at least 28 May 2020.

The ATO will consider releasing individuals and businesses from income tax and fringe benefits tax debts if they are experiencing serious hardship.

Affected taxpayers are able to vary their income tax instalments to nil without penalties.

The ATO recognises the ongoing effects of this disaster, such as cash flow problems for business owners who have suffered reduced trade. This includes businesses that are not located in the identified regions.

“If you’ve been affected by this disaster but your postcode is not currently in the identified list, phone the Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218 for tailored help.”

A complete list is available on the ATO website at:

If you are affected by any natural disasters such as cyclone, flood, bushfire, drought or storm, the ATO can help you manage your lodgment program and reconstruct records.

If this is the case, please contact the ATO to discuss your available options inclusive of the following items:

  • Allowing lodgment deferrals of activity statements or tax returns without penalty
  • Allowing additional time to pay tax debts without incurring general interest charges (GIC)
  • Making arrangements for payment of tax debts by instalments
  • Remitting penalties that were automatically imposed during a disaster
  • Fast-tracking refunds
  • Refunding amounts credited to existing debts when entered into a deferral to pay or an arrangement to pay tax debts
  • Allowing farmers in one of the identified impacted postcodes, and who have received a lodgment and payment deferral, to use simplified fuel tax credits to work out their claims, regardless of how much they claim each year
  • Conducting field visits to help with reconstructing tax records and making reasonable estimates.
  • When appropriate, your clients may also consider varying their pay as you go (PAYG) instalments.