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Tax Time 2018: Where’s my tax return? Explaining timeframes, ‘processed’ and ‘effective’ dates and balancing accounts

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Started July by
Modified March by


For some people, waiting for your tax refund can be harder than actually completing the return. Read our explanation of timeframes, key terms and possible reasons for delays below.

Congratulations! You’ve lodged your tax return and received a receipt ID. So what happens now?

In most cases, if you’ve lodged a tax document online (including tax returns, refunds of franking credits and non-lodgment advice) we’ll aim to finalise the outcome within 10 business days. If you send us paper forms, it can take longer – up to 50 business days – while we manually enter and process your documentation.

You can use our online services via myGov to track the progress of your tax return in real time as it moves through the following stages:



Status and outcome


In progress

We’ve received your return, and we’ve started processing it. It usually takes around 7-10 days for your return to be finalised from this point.


In progress – information pending

We’re collecting information to help us complete processing your return. This information may come from payers, financial institutions, private health insurers and so forth, and may take several days. We may contact you if we need some extra information from you.


In progress – under review

This status indicates that we’re looking at your tax account, including previous tax returns. There may be a delay to your income tax return while we complete our review.

We may contact you if we need additional information.



We are reviewing your tax return. This may include ensuring you have included all the information that has been reported to us.

You should not attempt to lodge your return again.


In progress – balancing account

Balancing accounts indicates that we have the result of your return, and that we’re calculating your refund or bill based on your account balance. Your return may still take a few more days while we review your accounts with us and other Australian Government agencies.


In progress – processing

We’ve finalised your return and generating your notice of assessment.


Issued - $ Amount

We’ve sent your notice of assessment. You’ll be able to see your notice of assessment in myGov, along with the effective date for payment if you’re entitled to a refund.

If you provided your Australian financial institution account on your return, we’ll pay your refund by EFT. Check with your financial institution to confirm their processing timeframes.

What’s the difference between ‘processed’ dates and ‘effective’ dates?

In simple terms, the processed date is the date we finish processing your return and update your tax account.

If you’re entitled to a refund, the effective date is usually the date we send your refund to your financial institution. You’ll need to check with your financial institution to find out how long it may take for them to process your refund.

If you have a tax bill, the effective date will be the date your payment is due.

My return has taken longer than 10 business days. What do I do?

We do our best to process tax returns within 10 business days, but there are reasons why it may take longer – for example, if:

  • We need to check information in your return. We may need to contact payers, financial institutions, private health insurers or you to confirm or cross-check information in your return. You don’t need to take any action – if we need any additional information from you, we’ll let you know.
  • You’ve lodged tax returns for several years all at once. We need to process all of your returns so we can make sure your account is up to date before we issue any refunds or requests for payment.
  • You’ve entered into a debt or bankruptcy arrangement. If you’ve declared insolvency or entered into a Part IX agreement, we need to undertake additional checks before we can finalise your return. Check to make sure your insolvency practitioner advises us of your situation before you lodge your tax return.
  • We need to check in with other Australian Government agencies (like Centrelink or the Child Support Agency). We’re required to pay part or all of your tax refund to other agencies if there are outstanding amounts, and we’ll write to let you know if this is the case.

Where possible, we’ll let you know if we need you to take any action, especially if we need extra information from you to process your return. You don’t need to phone us to follow up on the progress of your return as you can use myGov to track the progress of your return.

I need my tax refund to pay my bills.

We know that people experiencing serious financial hardship often rely on their tax refund to help pay for essential goods and services. If you can demonstrate that you’re experiencing serious financial hardship, we may be able to process your return as a priority – find out more here.

If you don’t meet these criteria, you can keep up-to-date with the progress of your return via myGov.

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