Nitschke Nancarrow managing partner Kym Nitschke explains what to do if you’ve made a mistake on your tax return.


Filing your personal and business taxes can be tricky, especially if you’re trying to do it alone without the help of an experienced accountant.

Despite triple-checking tax forms before submitting them to the Australian Tax Office (ATO), there is still a chance you’ve miscalculated or forgotten to include something important such as additional income or deductions. 

Penalties can be high if you have knowingly let errors slide but thankfully, correcting mistakes is relatively pain-free. The amendment process is uncomplicated, with a low probability of being penalties if you go through the right processes. There’s also the chance of additional refunds if the error is in your favour.

If you believe you’ve submitted an incorrect tax return it is important to get advice from an accountant as soon as possible.

Here are some key considerations.

What counts as a mistake?

Incorrect information could have been supplied by yourself, the tax preparer or the ATO itself. Often, it’s the simple details that trip you up.

Common mistakes on tax returns could include:

– Forgetting to disclose all income

– Missing out on expense claims such as rebates

– Claiming more expenses than you’re liable for

  • Miswriting figures

Regardless of whether the mistake was conscious or unintentional, individual taxpayers and small businesses have two years from the assessment date to raise the error or omission. 

Don’t delay raising the issue with ATO; after this, the process becomes more complicated. Work with an experienced accountant to ensure you don’t miss key details, make mistakes or miss out on refund opportunities.

How to raise a change request

Once you become aware of a mistake, you need to request an amendment on the ATO website. It is highly recommended that you seek advice from your accountant before going down this path. Your accountant can make sure that all details are covered and that you’re not unknowingly creating more issues.

If you’re handling the process yourself, the form can be completed online or printed out and sent through the post. ATO response times depend on the method of submission. If needed, the ATO will be in contact for further information.

To find more information or start the amendment request, sole traders or individual taxpayers should click here and businesses click here. There are no fees with amendment requests.

What if I don’t disclose the error?

You could face charges if the ATO finds out you have been withholding information, even if it’s unintentional. 

However, if you freely divulge any mistakes on your tax return within the allotted time period, the ATO could be lenient and waive penalties. You could also be due additional refunds.

It’s far better to disclose any mistakes than risk charges or penalties if found out. We recommend moving quickly to fix the error.

Don’t risk it

Tax compliance is critical. The best strategy is always prevention, so you should always take proactive steps to avoid risks and falling out of favour with the ATO.

You do this by working closely with an experienced tax accountant, who can handle the processes and requirements for you, giving you peace of mind and ensuring you stay on top of your tax.

Need a tax mistake fixed or want help with your tax strategy? Contact us now.

The information contained on this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser.

Taxation, legal and other matters referred to on this website are of a general nature only and are based on Nitschke Nancarrow’s interpretation of laws existing at the time and should not be relied upon in place of appropriate professional advice. Those laws may change from time to time.

Nitschke Nancarrow specialises in accounting, tax and financial advice for superannuation. Contact us now for a no obligations discussion about your needs.

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