This website is for use by legal professionals (lawyers and law practices) only. If the information is used incorrectly, you could risk losing money or your legal rights. If you are a member of the public looking for free advice about your legal problems please visit, or contact our Legal Help advice line on 1300 792 387, Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6 pm. 

If you decide to use or rely on the information or make decisions based on the information in this website (which VLA does not recommend) VLA is not liable to you or any third party in any way for any loss, damage, costs or expenses you or they may suffer or incur as a result.


Information about the penalties for not paying taxes.

Penalties for not complying with requirements set down in the various Acts that relate to taxation vary considerably.

Failing to lodge a tax return

Penalties can be imposed for failing to lodge a tax return by date due. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) views this as recklessness or gross carelessness and not as dishonest.

Penalties imposed are generally a percentage of the amount of tax owed. The percentage rate depends on whether the ATO believes that there has been deliberate evasion and the level of co-operation given the taxpayer.

Criminal offences

There are also a number or criminal offences for deliberately misleading ATO.

Victoria Legal Aid may be able to assist with person who has been charged with a criminal offence if they are likely to face imprisonment and pass the means and merits tests set out in the Grants handbook.

See VLA Handbook for lawyers(opens in a new window).

More information


Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (Cth)

This Act looks at income tax and related matters including taxpayer obligations and general application rules. It is a partial rewrite of the 1936 Act.

See Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (Cth)(opens in a new window).

Also see Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (Cth)(opens in a new window).

Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth)

This Act outlines a range of criminal offences in relation to taxation.

See Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth)(opens in a new window).

The Australian Taxation Office has information for individuals.

See Australian Taxation Office(opens in a new window).

The Fitzroy Legal Service's Law Handbook has information for individual taxpayers.

See Taxation(opens in a new window).

Value of one Commonwealth penalty unit

The penalty scales under Commonwealth law are different to those under Victorian law. Commonwealth penalty scales are explained in the Crimes Act 1914. The current rate is $222.

This only applies to offences committed after 30 June 2020.


This amount is indexed

This amount is indexed and so increases from time to time to retain the real value of the penalty. Immediately before 1 July 2020, the penalty amount was $210.