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  • Issue 7 Systems

    7.2 Will the ATO provide assistance to these entities to make sure that their systems comply with what is required by ATO? Will a testing facility be made available by the ATO?

    No longer applicable.

    7.3 Is the ATO aware of when external software providers will be making their commercial products available (again to enable taxpayers to test and compare)?

    No longer applicable.

    7.4 Small businesses and deferral scheme

    Scenario: Client has a turnover of less than $20 million. It is not highly computer literate and will be relying on us for the preparation and lodgment of their monthly BASs.

    They import large value items into Australia on a regular basis and have therefore applied for and received approval under the GST deferral scheme for importers. As a condition of approval under the deferral scheme they are required to lodge their BAS electronically and will be sent (via us) the eBAS software which we will then have to load on their computer and educate them about. Each month they will then have to download their BAS and forward it to us for completion and lodgment. I understand that arrangements are being made for Tax Agents to receive and lodge electronic BASs for their clients but that this system will not be available to clients participating in the deferral scheme.

    While most importers may be large, self sufficient companies with staff capable of handling the computing and GST issues themselves, however, for small organisations who are highly dependent on the Tax Agents, the system adds an unwelcome additional complexity to something that is already very complex.

    Electronic lodgment is in keeping with the Prime Minister's pledge to deliver government services to the community via the internet wherever possible.

    Each month the ATO is required to advise all approved importers of their deferred GST liability, which is included in their Business Activity Statement (BAS). Lodgment of the BAS via the ECI (Electronic Commerce Interface) provides an efficient means of advising importers of their liability.

    By ensuring you are aware of your deferred GST liability in this way, the risk of mistake or underpayment is reduced. The ATO has ensured your electronic transactions are secure and confidential by using the latest 'public key' technology. Customs will record the GST liability of each shipment as it is cleared. At the end of each month Customs will advise the ATO of the total deferred GST liability for each approved importer, for that month.

    The ATO is currently piloting the lodgment of BASs via the ECI for persons who prepare BASs on behalf of others. If the pilot is successful, this new ECI functionality will be made available to all BAS Service Providers including Tax Agents in the latter half of this year.

    7.5 If a taxpayer is registered for the deferral GST scheme for importers -

    can the tax agent lodge the BAS electronically on behalf of the client; and

    If the answer to question 1 is no, the requirement for ALL GST deferral scheme participants to lodge electronically appears heavy handed and will add to compliance costs for SMEs because relatively small businesses may be eligible for the scheme and the electronic lodgment requirements may be at odds with the general level of their accounting systems. Could you explain the rationale for this blanket requirement?

    ATO position

    There is no facility for Tax Agents to lodge an E-BAS for their DGST clients via ELS. The Electronic Commerce Interface (ECI) introduced in July 2000 was designed to enable businesses to deal with the ATO directly via the Internet. The ECI does support the electronic lodgment of BASs from businesses registered for the Deferred GST scheme.

    To authenticate users and to ensure security and privacy over the Internet the ECI used Public Key Technology. This involves the issue of a set of digital Keys and Certificates to the "authorised person(s)" nominated to represent the business. The "authorised person" can be the Tax Agent for the business. Accordingly, a Tax Agent is able to lodge an electronic BAS for a DGST client.

      Last modified: 22 May 2014QC 28063