Tax Assistance for People Affected by Severe Weather in New South Wales
On April 29, 2015, following a ‘super storm’ that left at least eight dead and caused millions of dollars in damage to infrastructure and property, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) issued the following statement on their website:
“If you have been affected by the recent severe weather throughout New South Wales (NSW), the ATO understands that dealing with your tax affairs is probably the last thing on your mind.
“Your tax obligations can be put to one side until you have dealt with the immediate effects of the disaster – whether you are affected yourself or are helping those affected.
“We can give you more time if you owe us money, are unable to lodge your return or activity statement, or deal with any other correspondence from us.
“If you’re a registered agent, we can give you extra time to deal with your clients affairs, whether you were affected by the disaster, or they were.
“To learn more about the available options and to make the appropriate arrangements, call the ATO disaster assistance phone line on 1800 806 218.”
Managing Your Tax Affairs in Times of Disaster
We, Filipinos, are used to severe storms and flooding, particularly if your lived in Metro Manila. However, the recent storm in NSW, Australia took us by surprise. If you’ve been affected by a disaster, such as the recent ‘super storm’ in NSW, managing your tax affairs would probably be the last thing on your mind. The ATO will give you enough time to tackle immediate problems first. They will also provide you with necessary tax assistance.
ATO Disaster Tax Assistance
1. Extra time to lodge, pay and respond
The ATO will give you extra time to lodge your return or activity statement without penalties. The ATO will also give you more time to lodge your superannuation guarantee charge (SGC), but you will still be accountable for the SGC. The nominal interest component (NIC) will also continue to accrue and will only discontinue accruing upon the lodgement of the SGC statement.
The ATO can also provide you more time to pay your tax debt, without interest. Volunteers, particularly those who have travelled interstate, will also be eligible for extension of payment. Registered agents will also be given extra time to lodge their clients’ statements.
Additionally, the ATO will provide disaster-affected individuals with more time to respond to their letters. You may call 1800 806 218 to discuss your circumstances and how the ATO can best assist you.
2. Early access to your money
Filipinos who are in financial difficulty because of a disaster may be able to get early access to their tax refund or super. You may call the ATO to request for your refund to be issued as a priority. You may also be able to claim a benefit from your super if you meet a condition of release, namely compassionate grounds, temporary or permanent incapacity or severe financial hardship. In the case of death, dependants of the deceased, the beneficiaries of the deceased state—or both—will be able to receive super fund benefits.
3. Assistance payments
You may also be eligible to receive a relief payment from your employer, a charity or community group, or local, state or federal government agencies. For more information regarding the tax implications of significant assistance payments, click here.
4. Damaged or destroyed property
If your property was damaged or destroyed, you may be eligible for an insurance payment. How this payment will be treated for tax purposes will depend on the type of property and whether or not the property is generating income. If you will be able to claim a deduction for repair costs, insurance payments will generally reduce the amount of deduction you will be able to claim.
5. Reconstructing your tax records
The ATO will also provide you with assistance in reconstructing your damaged or destroyed tax records. The ATO can reissue or provide you with copies of tax documents, including activity statements, income tax returns and notices of assessment. You may ask for copies of your PAYG payment summaries from your employer. Your bank should also be able to provide you with bank records.
The ATO can accept claims without substantiation if your records have been destroyed or list and it will not be possible to obtain original documents.
6. Fuel tax credits
If you have used taxable fuel for generating electricity for domestic purposes following a disaster, you may be entitled to claim a fuel tax credit. You can’t claim fuel tax credits for alternative fuel.