50,000 tax refunds stopped by ATO

We don’t usually publish articles direct from mass media but this one may be inmportant for some of our clients.


Tax refund

50,700 tax returns have been stopped and scruitinised by the Australian Tax Office.

MORE than 50,000 people have had their tax returns stopped by the Australian Taxation Office for suspected over-claimed or fraudulent tax refunds this financial year.

Latest data from the ATO shows since July 1 more than 5.45 million individual tax returns have been lodged for the 2011-12 financial year.

That is an increase of about 261,000 returns processed in the first two months compared with the same time last year, and the amount of refunds paid so far is also up by $40 million to $9.76 billion.

About 12.4 million individuals will lodge an income tax return this financial year but not all will do the right thing.

The figures show of the returns lodged in July and August more than 50,700 were stopped and had the microscope put over them.

Of these, 11,000 tax returns have been released after there has been cross-checking and the validation of third-party information, for example from employers.

About 6900 reviews have been completed and another 32,800 tax returns remain on hold for further review and compliance action has commenced on about 11,800 returns.

HLB Mann Judd tax partner Neil Wickenden said before lodging a return, Australians should carefully check their finances, particularly claims they have made.

“You need to ensure that whatever you put in your return that it’s completely accurate,” he said.

“More particularly where you are claiming deductions of any sort you have got substantiation and supporting records, that’s one of the things the ATO have said in their 2012-13 compliance program they are going to scrutinise.”

Mr Wickenden said whenever a return is lodged and a refund is issued, you should assume the ATO would look at your return more closely.

In 2011-12 around 109,000 income tax returns were stopped for potential over-claiming or fraud and about 79,000 of these required a full review, which the ATO said protected around $200 million of revenue.

Lodging returns electronically has also risen dramatically with 1.62 million returns lodged through the e-tax 2012 service in July and August, compared with 1.57 million at the same time last year.

Last year 73 per cent of Australians lodged individual returns online.

The ATO said electronic tax returns were 35 per cent less likely to require manual corrections compared to returns lodged manually.

This year the tax office is keeping a close eye on individual from the defence force and also working in information technology.

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