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2021 Australian financial year dates you need to know

We all come into contact with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) in one way, shape, or form — whether it’s paying income tax, lodging corporation tax, or filing your BAS. So, it’s crucial you stay on top of important financial dates throughout the year.

Keeping the taxman sweet will save you from hours of headache, potential fines, and ATO mail in your letterbox come tax time. Follow this list of Australia’s must-know financial dates to ensure you never miss a deadline.

Australia’s most important financial year dates

Here are the essential tax dates for 2021 and beyond, starting with the beginning of the year and working our way to the end.

January 15: The due date for companies, trusts, and businesses whose taxable annual income exceeds $10 million 

If your company or business entity had an annual taxable income of over $10 million last financial year, then you’re advised to lodge your company’s tax returns by January 15.

Your business’s taxable income refers to assessable income (revenue that your company brought in) minus allowable deductions. You’re taxed on the figure that’s left over. So, you’re only subject to this deadline if you earned over $10 million after deductions. If you run a small business earning less than $10 million, you’ll follow the regular financial year and lodge your company’s tax returns by October 31 income tax deadline (see below).

If your company meets this threshold, you can lodge your returns at an earlier date if you so desire. Many large companies struggle to put everything together in time, so if you’ve missed the deadline before or fear it might happen in the future, you can consider trying lodging your returns for October 31 of the previous year. If you don’t quite manage to get everything sorted out in time to file early, your company will still be in a better position to meet the January deadline.

The ATO allows a fair amount of customisation for companies of all shapes and sizes. For example, your financial year doesn’t have to actually be a year. In the ATO’s eyes, as long as you pay the correct amount of tax by the deadline, you’re fine (and won’t face any fines). However, you or your tax agent should speak directly with the ATO office before changing your financial year.

January 21: First PAYG activity statement due

This section only applies to business owners. As an individual taxpayer, this rule doesn’t affect you — though we’ll discuss later why you should take note of your PAYG summary (which you’ll receive on July 14).

The Australian tax system runs on a pay-as-you-go system, so tax is automatically deducted from each of your monthly pay packets. If you’re employed, your employer has to file your activity statements on the 21st of each month in arrears. This means that the statement they send in on January 21 would apply to what you earned in December.

January 21: First BAS due

The 21st of the month is a busy time tax-wise. As well as PAYG statements, businesses are also due to lodge their monthly business activity statement (BAS) on the 21st of each month.

January 28: Quarterly superannuation contribution due

Companies must pay their employees’ super contributions at least four times a year. This is the first yearly deadline, covering the period from 1 October to 31 December of the previous year (in this case, 2019).

The minimum amount that companies must pay is 9.5% of their individual employee’s salaries.

May 15: Income tax returns due for companies, partnerships, trusts, and individuals using a tax agent 

All companies, partnerships, trusts, and individuals using tax agents are required to lodge their tax returns by May 15.

Individuals using a tax agent will find the process straightforward, as the tax agent will handle all areas of submission. But let’s quickly run through how businesses can go about lodging their returns.

How to submit your tax returns as a business

If you run a business, you’ll need to report your company’s self-assessment tax returns by downloading and completing the Company tax return 2021 form on the ATO website. This hasn’t yet been released, but you can look through the Company tax return 2020 form for reference. You can also consult a registered tax agent for help filing.

July 1-June 30: Financial year 

The Australian financial year (also known as a tax year or a fiscal year) runs from July 1-June 30 each year. A financial year essentially refers to a 12-month accounting period. Individuals and companies generally use this 12-month annual report for bookkeeping and tax purposes.

July 1 officially marks the start date for submitting income tax returns for the previous fiscal year (2019-20), though the deadline runs until October 31.

Don’t leave everything until a week before the financial year-end or the submission deadline. Not only will you become bogged down in admin, but you’re more likely to make mistakes on your self-assessment or corporation tax form. The end of financial year (EOFY) is stressful enough, so make sure you’re well prepared before the deadline.

If you’re struggling to stay on top of your financial records, consider investing in accounting software. Not only will it show all your annual revenue and expenditure to date, you can also run handy financial reports, which will help bring life to your data.

July 14: Annual PAYG summary 

If you work as an employee for a company, then you should receive your annual PAYG payment summary on July 14, 2021. This essentially lays out how much you’ve earned throughout the year, and consequently, how much total tax you owe to the ATO.

If you’re thinking ‘Wait, what — I owe the ATO money?’, don’t panic. Income tax is automatically deducted from your monthly paycheck, so the PAYG summary just shows the total amount that you paid over the course of the year.

That being said, it’s worth double-checking this summary and making sure it’s all in order, as an official copy goes to the ATO a month later.

July 20: Rebates 

No, the ATO isn’t dishing out rebates before the year’s submission deadline — these are rebates from last year’s submissions. So, if you’re due for a $300 return from the tax office as a result of this year’s submissions, you unfortunately won’t see it until next year.

October 31: Deadline for submitting income tax returns

If you’re submitting your individual income returns without the help of a tax agent, then here you are — this is the biggie. Circle it in your calendar, set regular reminders on your phone, have sleepless nights thinking about it, and generally make sure that it’s the only thing you think — and talk — about in the month of October.

If you haven’t been able to get on top of everything in time, then you can apply for an extension. Although, it’s worth avoiding this hassle if possible. So, let’s take a look at what you actually need to do to submit your tax returns correctly.

How to submit your tax returns as an individual

The best way to go about lodging your tax returns is to use the government’s handy myTax portal. It’s available 24/7, it syncs up with the myDeductions portal (a tax deduction tool that helps you stay on top of your annual expenses), and it’s highly secure.

October 31: Deadline for submitting annual PAYG withholding 

Australian companies are responsible for withholding certain amounts of their employees’ monthly wage. This corresponds to the amount of income tax their employees are eligible to pay.

If you’re the company owner who has withheld this money, you need to not only pay it to the ATO (the frequency with which you make payments depends on the type of your organisation), but you also need to provide this annual record of all withheld payments.

Frighteningly straightforward financial year dates

Tax isn’t something you can deal with once a year and ignore for the following 364 days.

From monthly PAYG activity statements and BAS statements, quarterly super contributions, annual income tax returns, and statements of PAYG withholding, there’s always another deadline lurking around the corner.

We can’t change the Australian tax calendar, but we can help you stay on top of everything going forward. Say goodbye to frantic tax returns. With this guide, we’ve given you some tools to start taking control of 2021’s tax planning. Tax doesn’t need to be taxing.

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