Tax deadlines for 2021 in Australia

Sub Editor · 2 July 2021
Many Australians are anticipating a healthy 2021 tax return. We share the due dates from the Australian Taxation Office to help you put yourself and your business, if you have one, in pole position for managing your tax this year.

In this article, we share:

What tax due dates apply for individuals in Australia?

A few different tax due dates apply for individuals in Australia for lodging your personal tax return and paying a tax assessment bill.

Lodging your personal tax return

Whether you choose to self-lodge your tax return using MyTax or lodge it through a registered tax agent impacts the tax due dates that apply.

  • Self lodgement: complete and lodge it with the ATO by 31 October, 2021.
  • Registered tax agent: engage a registered tax agent to support you with your tax return before 31 October, 2021. You can usually submit after this date, as registered tax agents generally have special lodgement schedules that apply. If you use a tax agent and have ‘good standing’ or no outstanding tax returns with the ATO, you might be given an extension such as:
    • 15 May following the 30 June year end (so 15 May, 2022, for FY20/21 tax returns)
    • 31 March if you have prior-year tax liabilities greater than $20,000.

You can find out more about how to lodge a tax return in Australia, plus what’s new for individuals lodging a tax return for the 2020/21 financial year.

Paying a tax assessment bill

If you self-lodge your tax return and need to pay the ATO money, you’ll need to pay this bill by 21 November (three weeks after the lodgement due date), even if you lodge late. The ATO says that interest applies to any money you owe after this date.

Generally, for individual tax returns submitted on or before lodgement due dates (aside from those submitted through tax agents due on 15 May), any tax you owe needs to be paid to the ATO on the later of 21 days after:

  1. the relevant lodgement date, or
  2. when the notice of assessment is considered to be “received” (this is usually three days after it’s been issued)

This is the case regardless of whether you lodge on time. So if you lodge your tax return more than three weeks late or don’t lodge it at all, you will likely need to pay interest on any income tax you may owe. The ATO says it will generally send you a warning letter and then potentially a default assessment in these circumstances.

What tax due dates apply for businesses in Australia?

Businesses in Australia must lodge a tax return to report on their taxable income or loss, with the type of return they need to complete varying based on their business structure. Other taxes, such as pay as you go (PAYG) withholding, fuel tax credits and GST, are reported on business activity statements (BAS).

Business activity statement due dates

If you have a business that is registered for GST, the ATO will send you a BAS every three months; however if you are operating a small business, it might only be necessary for you to complete a BAS once annually. The ATO sets GST reporting and payment cycles based on your GST turnover.

  • If your GST turnover is less than $20 million and the ATO has not told you that you must report monthly, you’ll report quarterly.
  • If your GST turnover is $20 million or more, you’ll report monthly.
  • If you are voluntarily registered for GST and your GST turnover is under $75,000 (or $150,000 for not-for-profit bodies), you’ll report annually.

If you lodge and pay quarterly BAS, for example, the regular due dates are as follows:

  • Quarter 1 – July, August and September: 28 October
  • Quarter 2 – October, November and December: 28 February
  • Quarter 3 – January, February and March: 28 April
  • Quarter 4 – April, May and June: 28 July

Additionally, if you lodge online, the ATO says you may be eligible for a two-week extension on the deadlines for quarters 1, 3 and 4. This would give you until 11 November, 12 May and 11 August to lodge these statements.

General tax due dates for businesses

The ATO has a full list of due dates for each month that you may find helpful if you run a business. It also operates a business tax infoline that you can contact on 13 28 66. The Australian Government’s Business portal also provides a list of important dates for businesses, including if you’re a sole trader, employ staff or have other workers.

What happens if I miss tax due dates?

The ATO says it uses a ‘risk-based’ approach to working with taxpayers and managing their compliance. If a taxpayer doesn’t meet a due date for lodging or paying a tax return, they may face prosecution. This can include fines, interest charges, criminal charges and debt recovery action. Common tax crimes in Australia include tax fraud and tax evasion. Failing to lodge your return, submitting a fraudulent return or helping someone else get out of paying their taxes can all lead to serious consequences.

Remember, though, that if you lodge your tax return with a registered tax agent, you’ll generally get extra time for lodgement. The ATO also says that if you can’t pay a tax bill, you can get in touch and ask it to set up a payment plan using instalments.

Keeping track of tax due dates

If a tax lodgement or payment due date falls on a weekend or public holiday, the ATO says it will give you until the next business day. If you have a business, the Australian Government suggests it may be worthwhile to keep in mind other key dates and deadlines, such as for business name and company registration renewals, as well as state government key dates.

Whether you are an individual taxpayer, small business owner or even a self-managed super fund (SMSF) trustee, you may also want to consider downloading the ATO app. It features a key dates tool that you can tailor to your needs, so you know what dates you’ll need to meet personally for tax reporting and payments.

Alternatively, you could consider if another app might help you to track your due dates as tax time approaches. The new Canstar App (powered by Frollo) is one app you could consider to track your tax-deductible expenses. A range of different budgeting and savings apps now also feature functionality that enables you to tag and categorise transactions. So, you might tag relevant costs as ‘tax-deductible’ in advance, and generate a list for yourself that you can discuss with a registered tax agent or keep on file for when you need to lodge your tax return.

Cover image source: Image Craft/

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This content was reviewed by Sub Editor Tom Letts as part of our fact-checking process.

Jacqui is a senior communications professional with 15 years of experience in journalism, editing and public relations. She brings international experience as a Global Content Manager for ABB and has held senior editorial roles in Australia with the Queensland Government, UQ and John Wiley & Sons.

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