The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is urging small businesses with overdue income tax returns, fringe benefits tax returns, or business activity statements to make use of a new amnesty program to bring their lodgments up to date.

Announced in the 2023–24 Budget, the amnesty program covers tax obligations originally due between 1 December 2019 and 28 February 2022, and it runs from 1 June 2023 to 31 December 2023.

To qualify for the amnesty program, small businesses must have had an aggregated turnover of less than $10 million at the time the original lodgment was due.

During this period, eligible small businesses can submit their overdue forms, and the ATO will waive any associated failure to lodge (FTL) penalties.

Emma Tobias, Assistant Commissioner at the ATO

Emma Tobias, Assistant Commissioner at the ATO, emphasised the importance of small businesses taking advantage of the amnesty program to fulfill their tax obligations if they have fallen behind.

When forms are lodged under the amnesty, businesses or their tax professionals will not need to separately request a remission of FTL penalties.

“Just submit your outstanding tax returns or activity statements, and we will take care of the FTL penalty remission from our end. You may temporarily see an FTL penalty on your account, but rest assured, we will waive it,” she added.

Ms. Tobias also highlighted that outstanding lodgments can raise concerns about a small business’s compliance with the tax system, serving as a red flag.

“We encourage all businesses to submit any overdue forms, even if they fall outside the eligibility period. While forms outside the amnesty criteria will incur FTL penalties, the ATO will assess individual circumstances and may waive such penalties on a case-by-case basis,” she explained.

She further reassured worried small businesses about paying their overdue amounts, stating that the ATO is willing to collaborate with them or their registered tax or BAS agent to find a suitable solution.

“We aim to simplify the process and urge small businesses to fulfill their obligations. If you have a registered tax or BAS agent, now is the right time to contact them and ensure your tax affairs are up to date.”

Ms. Tobias reiterated that taxpayers still have an obligation to submit overdue forms during the amnesty period, and the ATO will continue working with them to ensure compliance.

The ATO provides various support options, including payment plans, and many small businesses can set up their own payment plans online.

For businesses that have ceased operations, it is important to inform their registered tax professional or directly notify the ATO.

The amnesty covers income tax returns, business activity statements, and fringe benefits tax returns. It does not apply to superannuation obligations and excludes other administrative penalties associated with the Taxable Payments Reporting System.

Any questions? Talk to us by submitting a form here or you may talk to us by sending us an email at [email protected] or call us at 1300 844 678.