Below is information on how quickly you should receive your tax refund, and what to do if you don’t receive it.
Most refunds within two weeks, nearly all within three
The ATO processes most individual tax returns within two weeks after they are submitted. Most of the remaining returns are processed in the third week.
Cannot do anything before 28 days
The ATO have a “service standard” of 28 days (four weeks). This means that the ATO will not take any action until the 28 days have passed. It is possible to call them, but I have tried a few times and it has never gotten me anywhere.
Refund deposited before assessment received
Continue to check your bank account (rather than waiting to receive your notice of assessment in the mail) as the refund may be deposited up to a week before you receive your assessment.
After 28 days have passed
If after 28 days you haven’t received your refund it is possible to ring the ATO (for individuals 13 28 61) and request that the tax return be “escalated” (queried so it can be finalised ASAP) . The ATO will generally try to finalise the return (or contact you) within a few working days.
Escalation then wait (and repeat!)
The ATO usually meet the escalation period they set, but not always. If you (or your accountant) hasn’t heard anything, then ring back and request a further escalation (which should be done much quicker). If you need to, continue to follow this process (escalate and wait), although only once or twice have I needed more than two escalations.
Can you accountant do anything?
Accountants do not get any special privileges and have to wait the 28 day before calling. However, your accountant can log on to their Tax Agents’ portal and can see whether:
- Your tax return has been updated to be “received” by the ATO (sometimes this takes a few days after you lodge
- The credit is sitting in your ATO income tax account (meaning that your ATO account is showing a credit with the refund that the ATO has determined that you will receive). Often, this means that the refund will be on its way in the next days or may mean that the ATO have a query which needs to be resolved.
- The refund has been issued (and should be deposited into your bank account in the next few days).
Wrong bank account
If you notice that your bank account details are incorrect (for example because your accountant has used a bank account that is now closed), don’t worry as the money will be refunded to the ATO and you, or your accountant can ring the ATO and provide your new bank details (using the same number 13 28 61).
Be aware that if you are lodging an amendment to a previously lodged return, the service standard is 56 days (eight weeks), so you can only request that the return is escalated after this point. The ATO takes much longer to process these (between three to six weeks usually).
Calling the ATO on 13 28 61
When you call the ATO you will need three items of personal information to prove your identity such as
- Your date or birth
- (maximum of one of the following) telephone number, business residential, postal or email address
- Your bank account number
- Details from an ATO—generated notice (maximum of two difference notices e.g. sequence number from any notice of assessment issued to you)
Your thoughts, experiences and comments
Have you had difficulty receiving your refund? Do you have any tips to share in speaking to the ATO?
Or if you have any comments please write them below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.