You may get behind on your tax obligations because of the bushfires. This can be stressful. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has announced help for small business affected by bushfires.


Is your business still viable?

Can your business recover?

You may need to work out whether your business is still viable. You can do this by:

Can’t pay my business tax

Step 1 Automatic deferral of payment due dates

The Tax Office will automatically defer any lodgements or payments if you are in the list of identified impacted postcodes. You can search your postcode on the ATO website at

Income tax, business activity statements, self-managed superannuation funds, fringe benefits tax and excise return lodgements will be deferred until 28 May 2020. You do not need to apply for a deferral.

If you normally pay your PAYG instalments quarterly then you can report Nil PAYG on your previous quarterly activity statement to claim a credit. The full amount still needs to be paid at the end of the financial year.

If you are not in the identified postcode but you have been impacted by the bushfires you can call the ATO Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218.

Superannuation guarantee obligations cannot be deferred and fees will be charged for late payments.

Step 3 Contact the ATO

The ATO can assist with:

  • Setting up a payment plan tailored to your circumstances, including an interest-free period
  • Waiving penalties or interest charged during the time you are affected by the bushfires
  • Prioritise any refunds you are owed


Always ask for penalties and interest to be either removed or not charged. This can keep the debt from growing.

Step 4 Finding documents

If you have lost documents in the fire the ATO can assist by:

  • Finding your Tax File Number
  • Re-issuing income tax returns, activity statements and notices of assessment
  • Helping you re-construct tax records lost or damaged in the bushfire

Step 5 Pay what you can

Keep paying what you can. Tax is a high priority debt.

Step 6 If you make a repayment arrangement stick to it

If you get a repayment arrangement do your best to stick to the repayments.

  • Make sure you can afford the payment amount
  • Make the agreed repayments on the agreed date
  • If you are struggling to make the repayments contact the ATO again to talk about your situation
  • Keep up with your existing quarterly obligations

Step 7 If you believe the ATO is being unfair you can complain to the Taxation Ombudsman

The Taxation Ombudsman can review how the ATO has handled your request for a payment plan or a deferral of payments. It cannot change or investigate the amount of tax you need to pay.

You can complain here (

Step 8 Speak to one of our financial counsellors

If your problem still hasn’t been solved, or you’re feeling overwhelmed, call us on

1800 413 828 to speak with one of our small business financial counsellors.

Warning: This is for information only. Do not rely on it as legal advice. It is recommended that you seek specific advice on your own situation.

Step 2 Work out what you can afford to pay

If you’re struggling to make the required payment on your utility bills, the first thing to do is work out if you can actually afford to pay anything.

If you can afford to pay something

Start paying the amount you can afford and contact the service provider to make a repayment arrangement.

If you can’t afford to pay anything

Call us on 1800 413 828 for advice


Can your business recover? Will you need to close?

  1. If you need help to work out if your business can recover speak to your accountant or use the Australian Taxation Office’s business viability assessment tool
  2. If you may need to close your business, your approach to debt payments may change. Get advice on the best plan for your business
  3. If you are a company you must not trade while insolvent. If you are unsure get legal advice and/or get advice from your accountant.