Tradies urged not to run scared from Halloween tax deadline

Paul Eyers
By Paul Eyers
5 Min Read

Self-employed tradies yet to lodge their tax returns are warned not to ghost the ATO this Halloween or risk receiving a rather scary fine.

Tradespersons who do their own taxes have until Tuesday night to lodge their 2022-23 tax returns if they hope to hide from an immediate ATO penalty.

Those who miss the Halloween deadline will be spooked by a late lodgement fine of $313.

And if that isn’t enough to give you a self-employed scare, the fine will jump by an additional $313 for each 28-day period the return is not lodged – until a maximum penalty of $1565.

CPA Australia’s Head of Policy and Advocacy, Elinor Kasapidis, urges Aussies not to ghost the ATO but to ensure they lodge their tax returns by the Halloween deadline instead.

“Failing to lodge your tax return could ultimately mean a scary penalty,” says

“We’re all busy, and time gets away from us, but lodging your tax on time is really important.”

Ms Kasapidis says doing your tax return last minute was also a mistake, advising tradies to instead register with a tax accountant to avoid costly mistakes and extend the return deadline to May 15, 2024.

“Rushing to lodge at the last minute may also result in more tricks than treats,” she said.

“Leaving it until the last minute may mean you cut corners, get things wrong and don’t submit your return accurately. You could ultimately receive a less favourable outcome.”

“You can engage a tax agent at any time. If you need extra time to lodge this year, you will need to get on an agent’s book before October 31.”

Tradies fear tax horror stories?

As of the end of September, less than 8 million Aussies had lodged their tax returns, 400,000 fewer than at the same point in 2022.

However, ATO statistics show a last-minute rush to avoid penalties, with a 14 per cent spike in lodgements now raising that figure to 9 million.

Ms Kasapidis believes the end of the low and middle-income tax offset and tax return horror stories shared on social media have led to a reluctance by some self-employed individuals to submit their taxes on time.

“We’ve all heard stories about people getting less back this year on tax,” she said,

“The main reason for this is the end of the low and middle-income tax offset… some people may be putting off lodging their tax returns because they don’t want to receive bad news.”

Running scared from tax bills will add to debt

Queensland-based tax accountant Marlon Rosello told Build-it readers to register with a tax agent today to help avoid further scares from late lodgement or avoidable mistakes.

“If a tax return is lodged and it results in a debt, the payment is due by November 21 regardless of if it is lodged before or after the deadline,” he warned.

Mr Rosello warned dodging tax debts could raise tradie’s tax bills by 11.14 per cent annually.

“After November 21, you will be paying interest on any outstanding debts which compound daily,” he told Build-it.

ATO Assistant Commissioner Rob Thomson said lodging a tax return is often less of a scary process than people believe.

“For people with straight-forward affairs, lodging should take less time than mowing the lawn or folding the laundry,” Mr Thomson said

“Whatever the reason for waiting until the last minute, it’s important to lodge your tax return on time, or engage with a registered tax agent.”

Three ways to lodge a tax return:

  1. Lodge it online with myTax.
  2. Lodge it via a registered tax agent.
  3. Lodge a paper tax return.

When will my return be processed:

  • Online returns are usually processed within 10 business days.
  • Paper returns take longer, and are processed with 10 weeks.

Five ways to pay a tax bill:
Once the return is processed, you will receive a notice of assessment (NOA), which will show the tax you need to pay or the refund amount.

  1. ATO’s online services
  2. Electronic payment
  3. BPAY
  4. By phone
  5. In person at an Australian Post Office

Difficulty in paying tax bills:
If you believe you are unable to pay your tax bill, you will need to contact the ATO to discuss available options, which can include:

  • Payment plans
  • The reduction or removal of tax debt
  • Deferred payment
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Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Stepping away from the media, Paul spent five years sharpening his tools in construction - building his skill set and expertise within the trade industry. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with an insider view of Australia’s construction game to dig deep into the big stories.