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How to find missing tax records

Have you lost important tax paperwork? Finding a replacement is not as hard as your think. This article shows the quickest way to find lost tax records, including old PAYG Payment Summaries (aka lost group certificates).

Key points

  • The ATO has “pre-filling reports” which are available on-demand for the 2008-09 financial year onwards.  Pre-filling reports contain employment income, investment income and other details, like private health cover;
  • The ATO can provide information for 2000-01 to 2007-08, but you need to complete a form to request this information, and it’s less reliable the further back you go.
  • You are still able to lodge returns prior to 1 July 2000 – there is no expiry date.  However, you’ll need to find your own records, such as group certificates, or reconstruct the figures from bank accounts and payslips

If you need help with finding lost information or lodging old tax returns, please get in touch.

Here is some more detail about how to find your lost records.

ATO pre-filling

The simplest and fastest way to find your missing tax information is to obtain your ATO Pre-filling Report.

The ATO collects information about your income from banks, employers, government agencies and other parties. This information is matched to your tax file number and summarised in your pre-filling report.

This can include:

  • PAYG Payment Summaries from employers (aka group certificates)
  • Centrelink payment summaries
  • Details of private health insurance cover
  • Bank interest
  • Dividend and other investment income
  • Your HELP (HECS) debt balance

You can get a copy of your most recent pre-filling information when you log in to MyGov and add the ATO as a linked service.  An accountant (or, registered tax agent), like Beyond Accountancy, can get pre-filling reports for clients as far back as the 2009 income year.

Many people can lodge a return with just the information on their pre-filling report.

How to get a copy of your group certificate

  1. Remember that there is no such thing as a group certificate. Since 2001 they have been called PAYG Payment Summaries. This will save a lot of confusion in dealing with the ATO.
  2. Check your pre-filling report. This is the easiest way to get a copy for 2009 onwards.  This is available on MyGov.
  3. Have a good look for it at home. Don’t be lazy!  It’s probably in that box of files in your garage, under the empty paint cans.
  4. Ask your employer. Your employer has obligations to keep tax records, and most will be able to get you a copy within a few days.  The bigger the business, the more chance you have of getting records.
  5. The ATO will have some records available as far back as the 2001 tax year (year ended 30 June 2001).

You have the right to ask the ATO for a copy of this information, which they will send you.  The best way to request the information is via MyGov.

The further you go back, the less chance you have of finding records.  This is because many employers in the early 2000s would have been using really basic accounting systems or even hand-written payment summaries, so the ATO never got an electronic copy of the payment summary.

However, if it sounds like too much hassle, we are more than happy to look up the information for you.  To protect against fraud, we’ll need to get your authority, verified by photo ID.

Records for 2009 onwards are on-demand, so we can have the records to you quite quickly (once we have received authorisation).

Records for 2001 to 2008 can take up to 4 weeks, but it’s usually more like 2 weeks, and the fastest ever reply was two hours.

Once we have the records, we can also help you lodge returns electronically back to 2001.

It’s even possible to lodge returns for 2000 and prior, although these would need to be done using a paper form, which is much slower.

Tip for those chasing up their own records: we recently applied for replacement records for 2001 and 2002 and the ATO told us their system did not keep records prior to 2005.  We told them this was incorrect and eventually got the information.  It turned out the staff member who replied originally was new, and didn’t know the system.  Keep this in mind if they tell you that “our system can’t go back that far).

How to find missing tax records

For PAYG Payment Summaries (aka group certificates) see above. For most other items, you can use the your pre-filling report for 2009 onwards. If you still can’t get the information, here are some helpful ways of finding it.

  • Bank interest: For recent years, you can probably get a summary of interest on internet banking. For older years, call your bank.
  • Dividends: If you own shares, you will probably have received dividends. Your dividend history will be shown on each company’s share registry. The name of the registry will be printed on your dividend statements, and you can log in online. Most companies use Computershare or Link Market Services as their share registry. You can get several years’ worth of tax history online within 5 minutes.
  • Private health insurance (pre 1 July 2012): Your private health provider can tell you (a) what period you were covered by health insurance and (b) whether have you already claimed your 30% rebate, or whether you still need to do that on your tax.
    For years after 1 July 2012 nearly all health insurance information will be on the pre-fill.

With a few phone calls, you can get most of your lost records.

Can somebody find my tax records for me?

Glad you asked. The easiest way to get a copy of all your tax records is to get help from a registered tax agent like Beyond Accountancy.

We have access to your pre-filling report records from the ATO tax agent portal, so we know more about your tax history than you do. A pre-filling report can be generated in minutes and can save a lot of your time in chasing banks, old bosses etc.

Not only that, we can show you the best ways to find your records from other sources, and explain the process where records cannot be found at all.

And once the records are found we have the skill and advice to prepare a tax return for you to get you the best tax result with a 14-day tax refund. We can also set you up so that you are in a better tax position for the future.

Flexible appointment times are available at our office in Bourke St, Melbourne, or we offer online appointments anywhere in Australia or overseas. With an online appointment, you don’t need to go further than your home office to get your tax affairs sorted.

To speak to an accountant call 1300 823 011, or click on the contacts link above. You can even book an appointment now using our online calendar.

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