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Has your tax return disappeared into a black hole?

4 min read

It can be frustrating and worrying. You lodge your tax return with the ATO, wait patiently for your refund….and then hear nothing.

But that mysterious silence from the ATO might not be as suspicious as you think. Every year, a small number of tax returns are lodged with incorrectly completed data fields which the ATO’s systems simply can’t recognise. They get trapped at the ATO’s IT gateway and disappear into a so-called suspense pool. They ATO doesn’t recognise them as lodged – indeed, they don’t even know those returns are there until prompted to look for them.

Recent media reports have indicated that up to 7000 tax returns are currently locked in this limbo, a tiny proportion compared to the millions of returns lodged every Tax Time, but if you happen to be one of those 7000, patiently waiting for a refund that never comes, that silence could be a cause of great stress.

The good news is that the ATO has listed the common reasons why tax returns disappear into no-man’s land so if you want to avoid your tax return disappearing into the ether, here’s a run-down of common mistakes:

Make sure your address details are correct:

  1. Address line 1 should only contain numbers
  2. Address line 2 must not contain only numbers
  3. If you live in Australia, the postcode you enter must fit the accepted format – valid ranges for postcodes are 0200-0299, 0800-7499 and 7800-9799
  4. Address line 3 must not contain three or more repeated consecutive alphabetic or special characters (so, don’t spell street as “streeet”!)
  5. Address lines 1 and 2 should not contain the text “as above”
  6. Ensure your suburb or town is not entered in address line 2
  7. If “care of” is entered in address line 1 then address line 2 must be present
  8. Ensure a valid country name is entered

Duplicate lodgements

The ATO reports that they receive a small number of returns which have already been lodged. If the ATO’s system recognises that a lodgement has already been received, it won’t be able to process the second return. Maybe you intended to lodge an amendment and instead lodged a full return? Make sure you’re not duplicating.

Your details don’t match the ATO’s records

If the details you enter on the return don’t match the data held by the ATO, there will be a mismatch. That could include an incorrect TFN or perhaps you’ve changed your name during the year (by marriage, for instance) and not informed the ATO of the change.

What to do?

If you’re a self-lodger, you can review the progress of your return through the MyGov website or you can call the ATO.

If you haven’t yet lodged, visit H&R Block. Our experienced tax professionals will ensure that your tax return is completed correctly.

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