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Reestablishing lost or damaged records

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Taxpayers are responsible for safely storing a written backup copy of their tax record in case the original electronic form becomes inaccessible or unreadable.

In the event that your records have been damaged or destroyed, there are a number of ways you can reconstruct them. Where the tax records are accidentally lost or destroyed from a burglary or fire, the ATO will allow a taxpayer to claim a deduction for certain expenses, provided that:

  • The taxpayer has a complete copy of a lost or destroyed document.
  • The ATO is satisfied that the taxpayer took reasonable precautions to avoid the loss or destruction of the form. If the tax record was a written document, it is not reasonably possible to attain a substitute document.
  • Taxpayers keep a record of these circumstances and inform the ATO in writing to back up the claim.

The ATO holds and can re-issue or supply copies of tax documents, such as:

  • Income tax returns.
  • Activity statements.
  • Notices of assessment.

If you have lost your TFN, you can still access your tax information by phoning the ATO. They will allow for other information to verify your identity, such as an individual’s date of birth, address or bank account details.

Employers should have copies of individuals PAYG payment summaries and banks should be able to provide bank records that have been destroyed. Registered agents may also have copies of individual records. In the event your bank charges a fee for replacing bank records and other services to help reconstruct records or provide information due to a disaster, individuals can claim a deduction in the income year that those fees are charged.

If you are unable to substantiate claims made in your tax returns or activity statements because records have been lost or destroyed, the ATO can accept the claim without substantiation, where it is not reasonably possible to obtain the original documents.

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