ATO offers some support for bushfire victims through deferrals

Support For Bushfire VictimsAs bushfires continue to rage across the country, support for devastated communities are coming from all sides and the ATO is no exception. It has announced automatic deferrals for lodgement and payments for taxpayers in impacted postcodes in the states of NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

BAS deferrals up to 21 March 2020 may be available depending on the area and additional postcodes may be added to the list once damage assessments have been finalised.

As the bushfires that devastated large swathes of the country continue on their destructive path leaving shatter communities in their wake, there are glimmers of hope with efforts to support and rebuild these communities starting to gather pace. In conjunction with these efforts, the ATO has announced automatic deferrals for lodgements and payments for taxpayers in impacted postcodes in the states of NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

Taxpayers in areas impacted by bushfires in November 2019 will have until 28 January 2020 to lodge their November quarterly BAS. Monthly BASs for November and December have been automatically deferred to 21 January 2020. In addition, 2018-19 income tax bills that were due on 21 November 2019 has been deferred to 21 January 2020.

Those in bushfire impacted zones in December/January 2020 will have until 21 March 2020 to lodge their December, January and February monthly BASs.

In NSW, December/January impacted postcodes include areas in Bega Valley, Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Eurobodalla, Hawkesbury, Kyogle, Lithgow, Mid-Western, Queanbeyan-Palerang, Shoalhaven, Singleton, Snowy Valleys, Wingecarribee, and Wollondilly. November impacted postcodes include areas in Armidale, Bellingen, Cessnock, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Glen Innes Severn, Inverell, Kempsey, Lismore, Mid-coast, Nambucca, Port-Macquarie, Richmond Valley, Tenterfield, Uralla, and Walcha.

South Australian impacted postcodes include areas of Adelaide Hills, City of Playford, Kangaroo Island, Lower Eyre Peninsula, Mount Barker, and Yorke Peninsula. Victorian impacted postcodes include areas in East Gippsland and Towong. Queensland impacted postcodes include areas of Noosa, Livingstone, Somerset, and Toowoomba. According to the ATO, additional postcodes may be added to the list once damage assessments have been finalised.

The ATO has set up an emergency support information line for people that have been affected by the bushfires but their postcode is not currently in the identified impacted postcodes list. Those individuals with homes or businesses in the impacted postcodes can also use the emergency support line if they require more assistance. The ATO notes that it can:

  • fast track any refunds owed;
  • help find lost TFNs by using methods to verify your identify such as date of birth, address, and bank details;
  • re-issue income tax returns, activity statements and notices of assessment;
  • help reconstruct tax records that are lost or damaged;
  • remit penalties or interest charged during the time you have been affected;
  • give extra time to pay debts or lodge tax forms; and
  • set up a payment plan tailored to individual circumstances, including an interest-free period.

The government is also working to ensure that disaster recovery allowance payments made to individuals, and grants made to small businesses and primary producers under disaster recovery funding arrangements will be tax exempt. An extra $400 will be allocated to families for each child that has qualified for these payments and additional financial counselling services will also be available.

Financial support for RFS volunteers is expected to be available in late January for those individuals that have been called out for more than 10 days this fire season and who are self-employed or work for small and medium businesses. Payments provide for lost income of up to $300 per day up to a total of $6,000 per person. It will not be means tested and the amount received will be tax-free.

Want to find out more?

If you or your family has been affected by the bushfires, the last thing you want to be thinking about is tax. Huner Partners are accountants, tax agents and financial planners who can help you figure out whether you can get an automatic deferral and then contact the ATO to make further arrangements while you concentrate on the task of rebuilding. Call Hunter Partners on (07) 4723 1223 for assistance.

Hunter Partners are Accountants, Tax Agents and Financial Planners. We can assist you with all aspect of your accounting, tax and financial planning requirements, call Hunter Partners on (07) 4723-1223.