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Lodgement Deferral for Tax Agents
accountants and bookkeepers

Lodgement Deferral for Tax Agents

If you can’t lodge tax documents for your client in time, you need a lodgment deferral. Navigating the ATO tax agent lodgment program is an important aspect of managing tax timelines and ensuring compliance. That said, things are complicated enough at the end of financial year (EOFY) without trying to handle deferrals alone.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through what you need to know about the lodgment deferral program for tax agents. 

What is a lodgment deferral?

A lodgment deferral extends the due date for lodging a document, giving you extra time to lodge without getting stuck with a failure to lodge on time (FTL) penalty.

According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), you can apply for a tax agent lodgment extension if there are exceptional or unforeseen circumstances that impact yours or your client’s ability to lodge on time.

The request must be consistent with PS LA 2011/15 Lodgment obligations, due dates, and deferrals. The ATO might contact you if you have higher levels of non-compliance or frequently use deferrals, but if your whole practice has been affected by unforeseen events, you can request a supported lodgment program (more on this later).

When can you apply for a lodgment deferral?

The ATO states that tax agents can request a lodgment deferral for the following obligations:

  • Tax returns
  • Fringe benefits tax returns
  • Monthly and quarterly activity statements (but not quarterly PAYG/GST instalment notices form R, S, and T or annual PAYG instalment notices form N)
  • Annual GST returns
  • PAYG payment summary and reports
  • Taxable payments annual reports

Notably, you can’t request a deferral before the ATO has generated an activity statement and made it available online. Furthermore, you don’t have to apply if:

  • The lodgment or payment due date is on a weekend of public holiday, provided that you can lodge or pay the next business day
  • You are affected by a general or geographic issue and the ATO has informed you that you don’t need to make a request.

The ATO considers lodgment deferral requests individually. The request may be agent-assessed or ATO-assessed, depending on the claim. 

How to apply for a lodgment deferral

Tax agents can request lodgment deferrals through the ATO online portal for agents. Just follow these steps to apply for a deferral:

  1. Select ‘Reports and forms’, then ‘Forms’
  2. Select ‘Lodgment deferral form’
  3. Enter the required information, tick the declaration box, and submit

Agents can request up to 40 deferrals at one time. 

What happens after you apply?

After you submit an application, you will receive a receipt ID. You can view the request online to monitor its progress. If your request meets the requirements to be agent-assessed, it will be processed within 48 hours. If your request is escalated to the ATO, it may take up to 28 days. The ATO will let you know about the reasons for escalation when you view your submitted requests.

When the request has been assessed, the ATO will notify you through Practice Mail. The deferred due date will show both in Online Services for Agents, and on your practitioner lodgment service (PLS) client report. 

The ATO may decline a deferral if:

  • The client has a record of late lodgments
  • The ATO has started lodgment compliance action with your client
  • You are not listed on the ATO’s systems as an authorised agent to act on the client’s behalf
  • You request a deferral from the 5 June concessional lodgment date

If your request is denied, you will be able to see the reason. In some cases, your client’s request may be eligible for review.

Reviewing the outcome of a lodgment deferral

You can request an informal review of a decision if you are dissatisfied with the outcome, but you must lodge this request within 21 days from the date on the communication in which your request was denied.

To request a review, use the Review of lodgment deferral decision form. This is available from the ATO’s website. When applying for a review, you must include:

  • The receipt identification number (ID) of your original request
  • The date on the communication declining your request
  • Additional supporting information

After filling out the form, submit it through Practice Mail by following these steps:

  1. Select ‘General questions, problems and help’
  2. Select ‘Review of decision for deferrals from tax agents’
  3. Attach the form to the message

Processing can take up to 28 days during peak periods, and the ATO requests that you don’t resend an application during this time. 

Supported lodgment program

Sometimes, your whole practice may be affected by unforeseen events. This can include ill health, the loss of a key staff member, or geographical issues like natural disasters.

The supported lodgment program aims to help practices of all sizes in these circumstances. This program supports you by:

  • Identifying overdue obligations and current lodgment commitments
  • Removing clients you are not actively representing
  • Prioritising overdue and upcoming obligations
  • Applying lodgment deferrals or suspending compliance action

You can apply through the ATO website’s Practice Mail section. Just follow these steps:

  1. Select ‘Debt and lodgment’
  2. Select ‘Supported lodgment program’
  3. Add your reasons for requesting assistance in the free text field and submit.

You must include your contact details, information on the unforeseen circumstances, the steps you have taken to resolve these circumstances, and the estimated time you need to overcome the situation.

Tax assistance from QuickBooks

Understanding the tax agent lodgment program is important to help your clients and ensure your practice thrives. Although QuickBooks cannot directly assist with deferrals, QuickBooks Online Accountant (QBOA) is your powerful ally throughout tax season to help you keep track of your client ledgers.

Embrace QBOA to streamline your tax-related workflows and handle taxes with ease. Learn more in our resource centre or attend one of our events.

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