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In last week's TAXVINE - see 2014 TAXVINE No 10 (11 April 2014) - Member 33 commented on the apparent need to make lodgment deferral requests by 15 May even where those returns could be lodged by 5 June. The ATO now responds: 

"The lodgment program was developed to assist agents to manage their workload over a 12 month period. Registered agents are provided almost 11 and half months after the end of the financial year to meet their clients’ income tax obligations. Deferrals are an additional service provided to agents for those exceptional or unforeseen circumstances. 

The lodgment date of 15 May is the actual due date under the lodgment program for registered agents.

Since 15 May 2002, the Commissioner has also granted a concession to allow income tax returns for individuals, partnerships and trusts due on this date to lodge by 5 June, provided that any payment required is also made by this date. As a result of this concession, there is no need for agents to apply for a deferral for income tax returns which are lodged and paid up to and including 5 June each year.

If you are impacted by exceptional or unforeseen circumstances where you find yourself unable to lodge a client’s income tax return by 15 May, or lodge and pay by 5 June, you are able to lodge a self-assessed deferral electronically through the Tax Agent Portal up to three business days after the due date. This initiative was introduced from 1 July 2010 after extensive consultation with tax practitioners. 

Additionally, if the need arises for further time to lodge beyond 5 June due to exceptional or unforeseen circumstances, a request for additional time to lodge, providing full details of the circumstances, can also be submitted."