Failure to lodge documents

– section 59 of the Taxation Administration Act 1997

Failure to Lodge Documents is when you forget or refuse to lodge a tax document.

Examples of Failure to Lodge Documents
  • A man goes overseas before he has lodged his last tax return for the financial year. He returns ten years later still having not lodged the tax return.
  • A woman refuses to lodge an important document about her income from shares.
  • A company fail to lodge a statement regarding their assets.
What are some of the possible defences to a charge of Failure to Lodge Documents?
  • You did not fail to lodge any document with the Tax Office.
  • You did not know about any document that you should have lodged.
  • You did not intentionally fail to lodge a document.
  • You forgot to lodge the document and there is a good reason for the time it took before you lodge the document.

There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.

Questions in cases like this
  • Have you lodged all of your tax returns?
  • Is there a document that you think you should have lodged but did not?
  • Did you refuse to lodge any document?
  • If you failed to lodge a document, is there a reason why?

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Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge

The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of 200 penalty for a body corporate, or a fine of 40 penalty units in any other case.

Failure to lodge documents would generally be heard in the Magistrates’ Court.


“Did you forget to lodge any tax documents?”


What is the legal definition of Failure to Lodge Documents?

A person is required to lodge documents in accordance with a taxation law and fails or refuses to do so.


The section that covers this offence is section 59 of the Taxation Administration Act 1997.1

What can you be sentenced to for this charge?

If found guilty of this offence you will incur a fine.

Case Studies


[1] Taxation Administration Act 1997 – Section 59

A person must not fail or refuse to lodge a document, statement or return that is required to be lodged by a taxation law.
Penalty: 200 penalty units in the case of a body corporate; 40 penalty units in any other case.