Taxpayers eager for refunds

Although tax returns aren't due in for another two weeks, the Australian Taxation Office says it has already received 5.3 million, with $5.5 billion in refunds paid out so far. This averages out to nearly $1,000 per taxpayer.

The Tax Commissioner, Michael Carmody, says the number of returns lodged already has exceeded expectations, with over 50 per cent of the 10 million individual returns due already received and a big increase in electronic lodgements expected over the next fortnight.

The activity taken out some of the sting out of tax agents' threats to disrupt the refunds process by “working to regulation”, in an ongoing dispute with the ATO. Tax agents are blaming the ATO systems for exacerbating their workload, while the ATO has responded by launching a new online portal, extending call centre hours and appointing an assistant commissioner to deal with agents.