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What happens if I keep forgetting to lodge my BAS statements?


Forgetting to lodge your Business Activity Statements (BAS) is only going to see you in a whole world of hurt! Anytime you mess around with the Australian Taxation Office (whether it be intentional or not), it's not going to end well for you. But since you asked, here's a list of likely repercussions may/will if you keep forgetting to lodge your BAS:


  • Your first late lodgement

Forgetting to lodge one BAS statement isn't the end of the world. We've all done it. Life gets busy, and tax is not always at the front of our minds. In this particular scenario, the taxation office will issue you with a warning letter advising that you're late and that if you don't lodge immediately, you may be subject to financial penalties.


  • You're a serial late lodger.

Now I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt here, as continually forgetting to lodge your BAS statement is unlikely. In this scenario, once again, you are only likely to receive a warning letter. However, continual late lodgements run the risk of the taxation office making an example out of you by hitting you with a fine.


  • You haven't lodged a statement in over 12 months.

Once again, I'm extending the benefit of the doubt here -  how can you forget to file your BAS statements for 12 straight months? The taxation office is usually a pretty understanding bunch of people, but they do have their limits! At this point, your Business ATO BAS account is going to be hit with penalties and interest. There's no avoiding it. It's pretty clear you have some form of Alzheimer's, and it's probably time to hand over your bookkeeping to someone else.


  • Failure to lodge a BAS Statement for over 3 years and no contact or arrangement has been reached or kept with the taxation office.

I'm tipping that your forgetfulness has morphed into burying your head in the sand and hoping it will go away! I wouldn't advise this. At this point, failure to lodge or talk to the taxation office is going to see you hit with fines and penalties along with a court appearance that can result in even heftier fines that will put extreme financial duress on your business. You also run the risk of jail time.


Despite the sense of fear and dread that the taxation office instils in us, I find it hard to imagine anyone can get to the level of points 3 and 4. However, if you should find yourself in this situation, remember that the ATO is fairly accommodating. They understand businesses can go through periods of struggle, whether financially or just because you're extremely busy and it's taking a little longer than usual to prepare your documentation. Start a dialogue with them to prevent your business from getting into strife.


If you have genuinely forgotten, my advice is still the same. Contact the ATO immediately. Honestly explain the situation and how you plan to fix it. Send yourself weekly reminders several weeks out from the due date for your BAS statement so you can make sure you put the necessary work into gathering your business data. Then make sure you either lodge them on time yourself or pass the information onto your bookkeeper/accountant so they can do it for you.