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  • Digital service providers: the big picture

    Find out how we work with Digital service providers:

    Our partnership

    Digital service providers (DSPs) build products that enable tax professionals, businesses, superannuation funds and individuals to easily interact with us. We partner with over 550 DSPs to offer taxpayers a more advanced combination of digital services than any other tax administration.

    We work together to integrate our services with their products – enabling seamless interactions and reporting.

    We work with a range of DSPs, including:

    • software developers
    • gateway providers
    • third-party providers
    • clearing houses
    • system implementers.

    The industry is important to us

    DSPs play an essential role integrating the community into the tax and superannuation system.

    It is critical to work with DSPs effectively so they can build, test, refine and market their packages. We are committed to supporting the digital service provider industry to build more services that will add value and enhance the user experience.

    As we work towards improving system performance, we use an email notification system – Digital service providers alert – to directly notify DSPs of significant systems incidents.

    Increasing support and collaboration

    Our Digital Partnership Office delivers partnerships that identify, enable and leverage digital ecosystems so that tax just happens. It supports providers as they integrate our new application programming interface (API) services.

    Over 260 APIs have been released to enable businesses to interact with us via natural systems, such as accounting software and practice management software.

    Industry engagements are crucial to the success of delivering digital solutions. We host, and participate in, consultations and events throughout the year.

    We work closely with DSPs throughout the software development lifecycle to help them integrate our digital services into their products.

    We are working with DSPs to develop a single point for them to receive communications, support and information. We’re streamlining engagements to make the industry’s interactions with us consistent, coordinated and transparent.

    Through industry consultation, we developed the DSP Operational Framework which sets out the security requirements that DSPs must meet to access our services. We are now working with DSPs to implement the Operational Framework to protect client data and the integrity of the tax and superannuation system. We will continue to work with DSPs to ensure ongoing conformance with the Operational Framework.

    Online services for DSPs

    We are currently transitioning DSPs to our Online services for DSPs. This service provides a secure environment where we can support DSPs through various stages of the software development lifecycle. This transition is helping us to streamline our interactions and processes, allowing us to provide better support.

    Working together to deliver Single Touch Payroll

    We’ve been working closely with DSPs to deliver this reporting change for employers.

    What STP means for the tax and super system

    STP will streamline tax and superannuation reporting for employers.

    Employers will be able to report payments directly to us from their payroll software, at the same time they pay their employees. Payments they will be able to report include:

    • salaries and wages
    • pay as you go (PAYG) withholding
    • super information.

    From 1 July 2018, employers with 20 or more employees are required to report through STP. Single Touch Payroll has been extended to small employers with 19 or less employees. They’ll need to start reporting through STP between 1 July and 30 September 2019. If they need more time to get ready, they’ll be able to apply for a later start date. Small employers can start reporting any time before 1 July if they're ready.

    STP information for digital service providers

    We regularly provide DSPs with updates on communication that is sent to their users.

    Consultation has occurred with DSPs, tax professionals and businesses to understand the impact and work collaboratively on the design, implementation and STP deployment.

    Details and associated technical artefacts are available via sbr.gov.au and are only available in the SBR2 channel.

    DSPs will need to meet appropriate requirements in order to use STP as a digital service.

    We are providing regular industry updates, which outline what’s ahead for STP.

    See also:

    Superannuation and DSPs

    Super new measures

    The changes to the super system commenced from 1 July 2017. These changes mean DSPs’ clients may have new reporting or accounting requirements, and need updated software.

    To support the digital software changes required for these new super measures, we engaged with you for feedback through a forum and webinar to discuss the required software specifications and associated Law companion guidelines (LCGs). We will continue to engage with you and other DSPs through industry engagements and regular newsletters.

    SuperStream

    SuperStream makes superannuation contributions and rollovers quicker, easier and more efficient.

    All rollovers and contributions between government and super funds are now electronic and in accordance with the SuperStream standard.

    Two new reporting services are replacing the Member Contributions Statement (MCS). These are:

    • Member Account Attribute Service (MAAS, deployed 1 April 2018)
    • Member Account Transaction Service (MATS, deployed 1 July 2018).

    These services will allow member information to be updated in real time and more frequent, event-based reporting of member data.

    Technical documents, checklists and guides are on the Software developers' website and sbr.gov.au to allow DSPs to update their products with the required changes.

    See also:

    E-invoicing

    E-invoicing allows the digital exchange of invoices between suppliers' and buyers' software or systems using a secure network and a common proven standard – the Peppol framework.

    The ATO became a Peppol AuthorityExternal Link on behalf of the Australian Government on 31 October 2019.

    We are continuing to work with service providers, industry and government to:

    • support the development and implementation of Peppol standards and specifications suitable for use in Australia
    • support accreditation of Service Providers within Australia
    • provide support for Service Providers accredited by the Australian Peppol Authority
    • monitor and ensure Australian Service Provider adherence to Peppol and local requirements
    • support and engage with the wider Peppol community.

    E-invoicing is a direct business to business transmission of invoices. The only parties that will see the e-invoices are the software providers, buyers and suppliers. E-invoices will not go through or be viewed by the ATO.

    We have been focused on increasing the adoption of e-invoicing by engaging with a range of government bodies and businesses. We have also been engaging with an increasing number of software and service providers to encourage the development of e-invoicing solutions for their clients.

    The Peppol Authority has also tailored the Peppol standards to support Australian requirements (for example, tax invoice) and set the appropriate security requirements for local service providers.

    See also:

    System outages and incidents

    We know it is important that systems outages and incidents are reported in a timely and effective manner.

    We keep DSPs informed

    We have a range of options to keep DSPs informed as we understand the impact that system outages and incidents have on their workflow and users.

    DSPs are kept informed of system outages and incidents through:

    • our weekly newsletter
    • updates on the software developers website.

    See also:

    We’ve increased system performance

    In June 2017, we released the ATO systems report outlining how we ensure stability, reliability and availability of our services.

    In 2017, we delivered the best tax time performance in the history of the ATO, with:

    • more pre-filling
    • higher volumes of returns
    • faster processing of returns and refunds than ever before
    • over 98% of individual income tax returns being lodged electronically.

    Tax professionals, businesses and individuals are increasingly able to interact with us from within their business or practice management software. Banks, superannuation funds and other agencies are also connecting to us digitally.

    ATO IT service availability targets

    The community has expectations for highly available and reliable IT systems and services which are accessible when they want to use them.

    We’ve developed IT systems availability targets, making our performance against these targets available for six of our key systems. We use industry recognised methodology to measure and report monthly on how we are performing for the following systems:

    • ato.gov.au
    • Standard Business Reporting (SBR) 2
    • ATO Online
    • Portals
    • Australian Business Register (ABR)
    • Standard Business Reporting (SBR) 1.

    As we continue improving ATO systems this reporting will allow us to demonstrate improvements towards meeting the service availability targets.

    See also:

    Last modified: 09 Mar 2021QC 57215