The ATO has reminded eligible small business taxpayers to take advantage of the lodgment penalty amnesty program announced in the recent 2023–2024 Federal Budget. The amnesty applies to tax obligations covering income tax returns, business activity statements or FBT returns that were originally due between 1 December 2019 and 28 February 2022. Superannuation obligations and penalties associated with the taxable payments reporting (TPAR) system are not included as a part of the program. The amnesty is running for the period 1 June 2023 to 31 December 2023.

To be eligible for the amnesty, your small business must have had an annual turnover of less than $10 million at the time the original lodgment was due, and lodge the relevant overdue forms and returns during the amnesty period.

Where your eligible business lodges relevant overdue forms and returns during the amnesty period, any associated failure to lodge (FTL) penalties will be proactively remitted – you won’t need to separately request a remission.

Although FTL penalties will be remitted, the ATO emphasises that no other administrative penalties or general interest charge (GIC) amounts will be remitted as a part of the amnesty. So, businesses with an existing debt or that accrue a new debt through late lodgment may still have GIC applied to those debts.

The ATO is also encourages businesses outside of the amnesty to lodge any overdue forms or returns to avoid being classified as “not being actively engaged with the tax system”, which is a red flag that may lead to other action. While FTL and other penalties may apply to those businesses, the ATO will consider the unique circumstances and may remit penalties on a case-by-case basis.

The ATO has a range of support options available for businesses where debts arise out of their lodgment activity, including payment plans, compromise of tax debt, or deferring repayments.