Contact the Tax Office as soon as you can
If you're having trouble paying your tax debt due to financial difficulty, contact the Australian Tax Office (ATO) - the sooner the better.
The ATO has an area dedicated to helping people who face serious financial hardship. When you call them, you'll speak with trained staff who can help you deal with your tax debt.
Explain why you're having trouble paying and tell them about your current income, expenditure, asset and liability position (see Step 1 about working out what you can afford to pay). They may ask that you fill out a special document for this, which they'll provide.
Payment options to help you
The ATO has a range of options available depending on your situation. They might be able to arrange longer-term payment arrangements, or temporarily halt charging you general interest or waive fines.
The options for individual debt are not the same as the options for sole traders or small business. You may find you need two different solutions: one for your business debt, and one for your personal debt. If you have both, don't forget to tell the person you speak to when you call up.
If you're in 'serious hardship', the ATO may be able to release you from some or all of your tax debt.
The ATO considers you to be in “serious hardship” when payment of the debt would leave you unable to provide food, accommodation, clothing, medical treatment, education or other necessities for yourself or your family, or other dependants. You can also claim serious hardship on your HECS-HELP repayments.
If the ATO refuses your request for a release on the grounds of serious hardship you can appeal that decision in a court or tribunal. Get legal advice.