Where’s My Tax Return? Everything You Need To Know About Your Tax Refund Status

The wait for your tax refund can be an anxious one, especially if it drags out for weeks. The ATO (Australian Taxation Office) is quick to take your money, so you want your refund back equally quickly! It’s totally understandable. It’s also a question we hear often as tax accountants. However, before you start checking your tax refund status daily and stressing about audits, it’s important to understand that there are many reasons why your refund might have been held up by the ATO.

Pro Tax Tip: If you contact the ATO about your late tax return, they may send you an email or SMS to let you know about delays or successful refund processing. However, the ATO will NEVER ask you to reply to that message or provide personal information such as your bank details or Tax File Number (TFN). Many new scams fire up each tax season, so you must stay on your toes. If you need to correspond with the ATO, the safest way is to use a trusted tax agent to avoid being the victim of a tax scam.

In most cases, documents you lodge with the ATO online (including tax returns, refunds of franking credits, and non-lodgement advice) are finalised within 10 business days. Paper forms can take up to 50 business days (10 weeks). Some tax returns requiring a manual check may take longer.

How Can I Check My Tax Refund Status?

The quickest and easiest way to track your tax return is to contact your ITP Tax Accountant. Our professional tax agents will liaise with the ATO on your behalf. We can then give you details on the progress of your tax return and let you know if there’s a specific reason behind the delay. We can check on your returns for the current year and for prior financial years. Crucially, we can explain the ATO’s reasoning, giving you peace of mind about why your refund is taking longer than usual to process.

What Does My ATO Tax Return Status Mean?

Tax returns progress through a number of stages. Your ITP accountant can answer any specific questions you have about the status of your tax return. However, for general details, you can refer to the table below:

In progress – ProcessingThe ATO is collecting information to help finish your tax return. You will be contacted if they need more information.
In progress – Information pendingThe ATO is collecting information to help finish your tax return. You will be contacted if they need more information.
In progress – Under reviewThe ATO is manually reviewing your tax return and double-checking all details before they finalise it. They may review your previous tax returns and will contact you if they need more information.
In progress – Balancing accountThe ATO is balancing the result of your tax return with your accounts and other Australian Government Agencies. This status also applies when they are calculating your refund or tax bill. They will contact you if they need more information.
Issued – $ AmountThe ATO has sent your notice of assessment with the effective date for payment if you’re entitled to a refund.


Pro Tax Tip: The ATO pays tax refunds directly into your nominated bank account. So it’s important to check you have the right one listed and that the branch and account numbers are correct.

If you’re entitled to a refund, the effective date tells you when the ATO will send your refund to your nominated financial institution. Check with your nominated account to see how long it’ll take for the amount to be deposited. It may take a couple of days. If you have a tax bill, the effective date will be when your payment is due.

Why Is My Tax Return Delayed?

You may experience processing delays in the following circumstances:

  • You have tried to lodge your tax return again after previously lodging. This delays the processing time as details will have to be manually cross-checked. If you have information that needs to be adjusted, do not lodge another tax return. An ITP Tax Accountant can amend your tax return for you if required.
  • You made an amendment before the ATO finalised your original tax return or any previously lodged amendments.
  • You have lodged tax returns for more than one year at once.
  • You have had a tax debt or unresolved debt with the ATO in the past.
  • You are under insolvency administration, which includes bank or debt arrangements. Your insolvency advisor will let the ATO know about your situation before you lodge your tax return. However, you can still expect processing delays.
  • Your nominated financial institution details are not current.
  • The ATO has decided to check some details on your tax return. They may manually contact your employer, financial institution, or private health insurer. They may also manually cross-check the information you have supplied.
  • The ATO has decided to manually check information with other Australian Government agencies, such as Services Australia, Centrelink and Child Support. In this case, they’ll be looking for any outstanding amounts.

Pro Tax Tip: If you’re suffering financial hardship, your ITP Tax Accountant can liaise with the ATO and request a priority processing of your tax return. Please contact us today if this is the case, as the sooner you get action happening, the better.

Once the ATO has processed your tax return, they will issue a notice of assessment. This document lets you know if you’re entitled to a refund or if you have extra to pay.


I Need To Amend My Tax Return

Maybe you jumped the gun and submitted your tax return before you had all the necessary information. Perhaps you simply forgot some details and only remembered them after you lodged your tax return. Whatever the case, you can amend your details. However, you will need to wait until you have received notification that your original tax return or any previously lodged amendments have been processed.

You also need to have received your most recent notice of assessment before you amend any information. This will help reduce the number of processing days. Online amendments are usually processed within four weeks. You can expect to wait up to 10 weeks for amendments made in writing.

You’ll need to send in your amended details within two years of the date you lodged your original tax return. For more information, visit our guide to fixing mistakes on your tax return.

Are You Tax Ready?

Before you can lodge your tax return, you need to finalise your total assessable income for the financial year. Your employer will report your final PAYG and superannuation details directly to the ATO. Your employer has until 14 July each year to finalise your details and provide you with an income statement. If you have more than one employer, you may receive both an income statement and a payment summary. Banks, health funds, and government agencies have until 31 July to finalise your details.

Your tax agent can access your income statement or payment summary information and inform you if they have all the details needed to claim your deductions and lodge your tax return. This is the most efficient way to ensure you’re officially prepared for tax time. It is important that you don’t use any information that is not marked Tax Ready. Details not yet categorised as Tax Ready may be amended at the last minute, and this could leave you with an incorrect tax return that has to be fixed at a later date.

If 31 July has come and gone, and your income statement is still not marked as Tax Ready, you may need to speak to your employer to find out when they plan to finalise your statement.

Pro Tax Tip: Private health insurers are no longer required to provide statements to their members. Previously, your health insurer had to send a private health insurance statement to each adult covered in your policy by 15 July. It is now optional for them to send this to you. However, your ITP Tax Accountant can usually access this information. If we don’t have access, you simply need to contact your private health insurer for your statement.

Getting Your Tax Refund in Record Time

ITP understands how important it is for you to get your tax refund as quickly as possible. It is, after all, your hard-earned money! Our skilled tax accountants will streamline the process for you, ensuring you’re Tax Ready before maximising your deductions and boosting your refund amount. With an ITP tax agent, you get peace of mind, knowing your tax return is highly unlikely to be flagged for an audit. You can also expect a bigger refund that comes to you in the shortest possible time. If anything does go wrong, you still won’t have anything to stress about as your ITP tax accountant will liaise with the ATO directly on your behalf. It’s all part of the service!

ITP’s Accounting Professionals have been helping Australian individuals and businesses for 50 years and counting. With offices all over Australia, we make it easy to make the most out of tax time. Speak with your nearest ITP tax agent today – peace of mind is just a phone call or visit away!