• BAS Agent Association Group Minutes
    4 September 2014

    Meeting details

    Venue

    Maribyrnong Room
    6 Gladstone Street
    MOONEE PONDS VIC
    Audiolink to other sites

    Date

    4 September 2014

    Start

    9.40am

    Finish

    3.25pm

    Chair

    Colin Walker

    Secretariat

    Tricia Walsh

    Contact phone

    07 3149 5768

    Attendee list

    Colin Walker
    Assistant Commissioner

    ATO

    Joyce Correnza
    Director

    ATO

    Matthew Addison
    Executive Director

    Institute of Certified Bookkeepers

    Debra Anderson
    Principal, Legally BAS

    BAS agent

    Tony Austin
    Membership Association Representative

    First Class Financial Group

    John Birse
    CEO and National Divisional Franchisor

    Jim’s Bookkeeping (Melbourne)

    Michael Croker
    Professional Association Representative

    Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

    Tony Greco
    Professional Association Representative

    Institute of Public Accountants

    Rowena Hand
    Principal, Books and BAS

    BAS agent

    Stuart Norman
    Chief Executive Officer

    Association of Accounting Technicians

    Russell Smith
    Principal, Caruss Consultants

    BAS agent and Tax Practitioners Board member

    Peter Thorp
    Professional Association Representative

    Australian Bookkeepers Association Ltd

    Guest presenters

    David Baker
    Director,
    Issues and Channel Management

    Tax Practitioner, Lodgment Strategy and Compliance Support

    Sally Bektas
    Senior Director,
    Reinventing the ATO Client Experience

    Private Groups and High Wealth Individuals

    Nicola Black
    Senior Director,
    ELS2SBR Program Manager

    Tax Practitioner, Lodgment Strategy and Compliance Support

    Philip Hind
    National Program Manager,
    Super Data Standards and e-Commerce

    Superannuation

    Martin Mane
    Senior Director
    Single touch Payroll

    Customer Service & Solutions

    Michael O’Rourke
    Carbon Tax Repeal Project Manager,
    CSGR EA Clean Energy Future

    Indirect Tax

    Jonathon Thorpe
    Assistant Commissioner,
    Coordination Delivery

    Service Delivery

    Apologies

    Maria Benardis
    Professional Association Representative

    Association of Taxation and Management Accountants and Association of Certified Bookkeepers

    Keith Clissold
    Professional Association Representative

    Association of Taxation and Management Accountants and Association of Certified Bookkeepers

    Kelly Day
    Principal, Accounts by Day

    BAS agent

    Martine Joly
    Professional Association Representative

    Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

    Secretariat

    Tricia Walsh

    Tax Practitioner, Lodgment Strategy and Compliance Support

     

    Disclaimer – BASAAG agendas, minutes and related papers are not binding on the ATO or any of the other bodies referred to in these papers. The responses contained in this agenda are the preliminary responses of the ATO based on the agenda items supplied. These papers reflect the position prior to discussion in the meeting and readers should note that the position on any issue may subsequently change.

    Agenda item 1: Welcome and introductions

    The meeting opened at 9.40am.

    There is one action item outstanding since the last meeting.

    Action item – open

    Reference

    BASAAG 0412/01

    Agenda Topic

    Lodgment program

    Action item

    BAS agents to be more involved in consultation leading to the further implementation of the 85% lodgment program framework.

    Responsibility

    Assistant Commissioner Paul Kruspe

    Update

    Preparation for consultation with tax and BAS agents is under way. The parameters for consultation are being refined.

    The ATO is working to make the lodgment program more value added. The vast majority of agents are achieving 85%. No action is being taken against anyone who doesn’t achieve 85% lodgment on time apart from seeking to help them to achieve that target.

    Changes in membership

    The Tax Institute has withdrawn from its representation on the BASAAG.

    Robert Hutt’s appointment at the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) ended on 30 June 2014. Tony Greco is to resume the position as the Institute’s representative on the BASAAG.

    Attendance

    Michael Croker represented Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (formerly ICAA) for Martine Joly

    Apologies

    • Maria Benardis
    • Keith Clissold
    • Kelly Day
    • Martine Joly.

    Agenda item 2: Increasing BAS and tax agent digital interactions

    Acting Assistant Commissioner Jonathon Thorpe, Customer Service and Solutions discussed with members the work undertaken by the ATO to redirect agents to self-serve channels and the future plans to provide further support in this direction.

    The ATO is committed to developing and investing in services to improve our service to the community including our registered agents.

    A significant proportion of our transactions are available to be self-served either online or via other secure channels.

    Analysis of research indicated that around 10% of current phone enquiries could be actioned by the registered agent using our self-help facilities.

    Recent changes to procedure in relation to handling enquiries from registered agents.

    In March 2014 we changed our procedures to strongly encourage agents to self-serve on every enquiry where the agent has a self-serve channel available. Most agents were happy to self-serve once they were aware of the option and how to use the system.

    On 1 September 2014 we tightened our procedures for those enquiries where there is a real time self-serve option for agents. Agents who call with an enquiry that can be self-served on the portal or self-help interactive voice response (IVR) will be advised that these requests are no longer performed in the call centre. Our staff will provide assistance to the agent to action the request themselves on the portal if this is required.

    Our future strategy

    There are a number of initiatives in place to continue to support our tax and BAS agents to use our online and self-serve channels. These include:

    • targeted communication to agents to promote self-help options
    • further development of support material to assist agents to self-serve including ‘how to’ You Tube videos to assist with portal functions
    • reviewing opportunities to simplify the use of our self-serve channels
    • liaising with agents with high volume of interactions and encouraging self-serve
    • building partnerships with software developers to engage with them around the needs of our registered agents
    • communicating with, and supporting agents as new technologies are introduced.

    Agenda item 3: BAS Agent Portal

    Director Issues and Channel Management, David Baker discussed with members the work being done on the BAS Agent Portal and steps being undertaken to improve stability in the short term and develop capability over the medium to long term.

    Due to issues with the portal in July and August a number of pieces of correspondence had gone missing. Work has been undertaken to recover this correspondence and most of the messages have now been recovered and re-attached. The system fix appears to be working quite well although we are asking practitioners to please promptly advise the ATO support line if they are still waiting on a response to correspondence.

    The ATO is working on improving its management of maintenance windows, in particular wanting to keep Saturdays free for agents to work. A workshop is planned later this month between key stakeholders in IT and different supporting teams to address irritants to service provision.

    Past issues with the automated SMS (short messaging service) messaging have led the ATO to examine ways to use social media and other channels to engage with practitioners. A number of projects are being undertaken looking at improving ATO capability of using online forms or online email type systems.

    Agenda item 4: Fuel tax credits and repeal of the carbon tax

    Carbon Tax Repeal Project Manager, Michael O'Rourke spoke to his presentation at the meeting.

    As a result of the repeal of the carbon tax the carbon charge has been removed for fuels acquired from 1 July 2014. This means businesses can claim more fuel tax credits for many of the fuels they acquired on or after 1 July 2014 and used in many off-road activities. Fuel tax credits can no longer be claimed for non-transport gaseous fuels used in specified agriculture, fishing and forestry activities.

    Fuel tax credits can be claimed for transport gaseous fuels including:

    • liquid petroleum gas
    • liquid natural gas
    • compressed natural gas.

    The fuel tax credit rate for liquid fuels, diesel and petrol in heavy vehicles travelling on a public road is 12.033 cents/litre. The fuel tax credit rate for fuel used to power vehicles is not reduced by the road user charge. Fuel tax credit can be claimed at the full rate for petrol, diesel and gaseous fuels.

    Tips to avoid common mistakes:

    Fuel tax credit tools/calculators can be found at:

    Coming webinars for tax professionals will:

    • provide information about recent fuel tax changes
    • look at our fuel tax credit calculator
    • discuss tips to avoid common errors.

    The webinars are to be held at:

    • noon Eastern Standard Time (EST) on Monday, 22 September 2014
    • 11.00am Eastern Daylight-saving Time (EDST) on Tuesday, 14 October 2014
    • 3.00pm EDST on Wednesday, 15 October 2014

    To register for a webinar go to www.ato.gov.au/ftcagentwebinar

    Some useful fuel tax credit hyperlinks:

    Agenda item 5: Reinventing the ATO

    Senior Director Reinventing the ATO Client Experience, Sally Bektas attended the meeting for a targeted presentation and workshop with members.

    Reinventing the ATO is the blueprint for achieving the ATO mission and vision. The mission is to contribute to the economic and social wellbeing of Australians by fostering willing participation in our tax and superannuation systems. The vision is that the ATO is a leading tax and superannuation administration known for contemporary service, expertise and integrity.

    The ATO Commissioners have said:

    ‘We’re looking to reinvent the ATO, to transform how we go about our core business, and make the ATO a contemporary and service-oriented organisation – to be a leading agency, relevant and responsive to the expectations of the community and government’.

    Guiding design principles for the program are aligned to our values: impartial, committed to service, accountable, respectful and ethical.to ensure the end product is useful, usable and reliable.

    The journey of reinventing the ATO is underway and visible progress has commenced on internal processes and the delivery of services to improve the overall staff and client experiences. Work has begun on co-designing with audiences including tax practitioners about what the future tax and superannuation experience could look like.

    For more information refer to Tax administration transformation: Reinventing the ATO.

    Members participated in a robust discussion to assist in the development of a BAS agent personario for inclusion in the Reinventing the ATO Blueprint. A copy of the personario will be provided to members when finalised.

    Agenda item 6: Tax Practitioner Board (TPB) report

    The following report was tabled at the meeting.

    Board activity

    1. TPB outreach

    The TPB held its latest outreach activities in Queensland from 10 to 12 June 2014. Ian Taylor, Chair of the TPB along with TPB board members, led sessions with tax practitioners, academics and professional association representatives in Brisbane, Maroochydore and the Gold Coast.

    We had a great response to the sessions with over 1,250 people registering to attend.

    • 589 tax agents
    • 567 BAS agents
    • 105 financial advisers registered to attend the presentations.

    The sessions focus was to provide tax practitioners with information about their registration requirements and obligations under the Code of Professional Conduct (Code).

    The feedback received from participants was very positive.

    The TPB are currently reviewing the outreach program and are looking at new approaches to meet the changing goals of outreach.

    1. Registrations

    Applications on hand to be processed at 31 July 2014

    TA new registration applications

    551

    BAS new registration applications

    293

    TA renewal applications

    1,210

    BAS renewal applications

    653

    Total

    2,707

    Current turnaround times – July 2014

    Type of application

    Current turnaround times (days) from the date application is complete and accurate

    Registering as a tax new agent

    22

    Registering as a BAS new agent

    18

    Renewing a tax agent registration

    27

    Renewing a BAS agent registration

    14

    1. Compliance activity

    Complaints and compliance activity focussing on BAS agents

    BAS agents who provide tax agent services but are not registered to provide these services continue to be an issue. This type of activity is a breach of the civil penalty provisions of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA). We are making preliminary enquiries into three BAS agents who may be doing this.

    In May 2014 the Federal Court ordered an agent to pay a $43,000 penalty. This agent was registered as a BAS agent while providing tax agent services and charging a fee. The Court found that the agent contravened the TASA on 86 separate occasions and ordered an injunction for a period of three years which requires the agent to tell people who request her to provide tax agent services that she is not a registered tax agent and cannot charge a fee for any tax work.

    The Board has started proceedings in the Federal Court, Brisbane, against a BAS agent and her company for alleged breaches of the civil penalty provisions. It is alleged (among other things) that the agent and the company provided tax agent services and charged fees for these services while not being registered as a tax agent.

    Other recent compliance trends for BAS agents have been around:

    • not having professional indemnity insurance
    • failing to comply with their personal tax obligations by not lodging their own returns or paying debts to the ATO
    • BAS agent companies or partnerships who do not have a registered individual agent attached to their practice.

    For the financial year to 31 July 2014 three BAS agents have been sanctioned after failing to maintain professional indemnity insurance as required by the TASA.

    Source of complaint or referral

    Total YTD at Jul 2014 for all agents

    Total YTD at Jul 2014 for BAS agents only

    External sources

    106

    8

    Public

    85

    5

    Registered agent

    16

    3

    ATO

    5

    0

    Professional Associations

    0

    0

    Media

    0

    0

    ASIC

    0

    0

    Internal sources

    10

    3

    TPB registrations

    2

    1

    TPB board/legal

    0

    0

    TPB regulatory assurance

    7

    2

    Other

    1

    0

    Total

    116

    11

     

    Sanctions

    Total YTD

    YTD BAS agents only

    Terminations Part 4

    3

    3

    Terminations Part 3

    0

    0

    Renewals/Reg app rejected

    0

    0

    Application to Federal Court

    0

    0

    Suspended

    0

    0

    Order issued

    3

    0

    Written caution

    1

    0

    Total

    7

    3

    1. Board information

    Australian tax law and commercial law for tax (financial) advisers

    Exposure drafts have been released for comment in relation to the requirements for Australian taxation law and commercial law for tax (financial) adviser.

    Submissions on the exposure drafts close on 19 September 2014 and can be sent to tpbsubmissions@tpb.gov.au

    Confidentiality of client information

    The TPB released a final information sheet providing guidance on confidentiality of client informationExternal Link, which is one of the obligations under item 6 of the Code.

    The information sheet describes the principles of Code Item 6 and provides day-to-day situations that practitioners may encounter. It also outlines consequences for failing to comply.

    Financial advisers

    From 1 July 2014 financial advisers who provide tax (financial) advice can notify to register as a tax (financial) adviser with the TPB.

    Until 31 December 2015, Australian financial services (AFS) licensees or their authorised representatives who provide a tax (financial) advice service can either:

    • notify the TPB to become registered as a tax (financial) adviser, or
    • use a relevant disclaimer when they provide tax (financial) advice services for a fee or other reward.

    Registered agent symbol

    The registered agent symbol has been approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Preparation has commenced on procuring the symbol for tax (financial) advisers.

    Payroll service providers

    The TPB released an exposure draftExternal Link of an information sheet that will assist payroll service providers to better understand the tax agent services regime.

    The exposure draft outlines the:

    • circumstances where a payroll service provider may need to register as a tax agent or BAS agent
    • circumstances where they do not need to register
    • options available to payroll service providers.

    Submissions closed on 25 August 2014. The TPB will now consider submissions and undertake any further consultation required before settling its final position.

    Agenda item 7: ELS2SBR

    ELS2SBR Program Manager, Nicola Black discussed with members their understanding of Standard Business Reporting (SBR), particularly following the discussion at the ATPAG on 22 August 2014.

    Our environment is going through significant changes and we are seeing impacts on the tax system. The ATO is moving to digital by default and reinventing ourselves to become a leading tax and superannuation administration known for our contemporary service, expertise and integrity.

    The ELS2SBR program is providing the foundations for contemporary online services, offering an easy and convenient way for tax practitioners to report to government through their natural systems.

    BAS agents are already using SBR enabled software for lodgments with the ATO. Release One of the ELS2SBR program, available now, provides some client management services, making available an end to end client management and lodgment capability, in SBR enabled software. Future releases will provide additional services and a range of business management reports, functions and benefits including:

    • EFT reconciliation report
    • managing client lists through business management software
    • less rekeying
    • adding clients in real time
    • requesting outstanding activity statements.

    In this transitional period there will also be some incremental changes for ATO online that will become a more interactive platform with an enhanced level of service. Co-design discussions are taking place and we are asking agents to tell us the most important features of the portal for them through an online survey, Portal services-and-how-they-will-look-in-the-future. Members were asked to alert their colleagues to the survey and encouraged to complete it by 5.00pm on 18 September 2014.

    The ATO is committed to providing the right technology and experience and reducing regulatory burden and red tape. Co-design work will be undertaken as we develop future online services.

    For all the latest news, in one place, visit TP News.

    Agenda item 8: Tax practitioner consultations

    This agenda item was not reached. A separate out of session discussion will be held with members.

    Agenda item 9: SuperStream implementation

    National Program Manager, Data Standards and E-Commerce, Philip Hind provided members with details on the implementation of SuperStream:

    SuperStream is a government reform aimed at improving the efficiency of the ‘back office; of the superannuation system. It introduces mandatory electronic processing of superannuation data and payments and impacts employers and super funds, including self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs). Once fully implemented, SuperStream will provide a simple and single channel for employers to make super contributions electronically to all funds.

    SuperStream will deliver long term benefits to employers, funds and members by:

    • providing a consistent process for employers to make contributions and for funds to receive them
    • allowing for increased automation and efficiencies
    • reducing processing costs in the long term
    • improving date quality
    • reducing reverse workflow and exceptions handling.

    It is estimated that this move to electronic processing will save $1b savings across the system and increase efficiencies.

    SuperStream provides the opportunity to reduce costs and save time by eliminating unnecessary variation and complexity when contributing to multiple funds. It:

    • can be delivered in-house or via service partners
    • utilises open standards and common e-commerce platforms
    • is designed to generate contributions as a ‘natural’ output of payroll systems.

    All super contributions are treated in the same way whether sent to a default or choice fund, an Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) fund or SMSF.

    Employers are being urged to check what solutions are available through their current service providers and more broadly in the market, including:

    • payroll software
    • accounting, book-keeping and bureaux services
    • clearing houses
    • default funds (employer portals).

    SuperStream employer checklist will help you and your clients get started www.ato.gov.au/SuperStreamchecklist

    Agenda item 10: Enabling digital by default and single touch payroll

    Director, Single Touch Payroll, Martin Mane briefed the meeting on activities the ATO have been implementing to increase digital interactions and the proposed move to Single Touch Payroll.

    Action taken by the ATO to increase digital interactions includes:

    • transitioning entities to digital activity statement lodgment
    • mandating electronic funds transfer (EFT) refunds – three million individuals moved to EFT refunds in 2013–14
    • Promoting online services – myTax, myGov, ATO mobile app
    • encouraging agents to self-serve
    • cleansing content on website, forms, publications and internal scripts
    • reducing ATO paper products.

    Single touch payroll is a concept that leverages an employer’s natural system (which includes payroll cycles) to fulfil all employer reporting and payment obligations via the touch of a single button, from within the accounting or business management software being used by businesses or by their payroll providers. This would allow businesses to process their payroll and automatically fulfil the following functions and obligations electronically in real time:

    • fulfil reporting obligations associated with employee commencement or employee release
    • calculate payroll obligations, pay staff and issue payslips
    • fulfil 'employer based' reporting and payment obligations (for example pay as you go withholding (PAYGW), super contributions and payment summaries) thus removing the need for employers to separately report and pay these obligations on monthly, quarterly and annual cycles.

    The proposal also provides the platform to improve other employer obligations (eg paid parental leave, state payroll taxes).

    All jurisdictions worldwide are looking to reduce the amount of time an employer holds on to the employee’s tax before reporting the individual’s data. This will mean that the ATO will get individual employee payroll information (including superannuation guarantee) every payroll. It will also create an enormous compliance capability in terms of tracking and ensuring employers are making superannuation payments to the employees.

    Agenda item 11: Other business

    Update on increase in superannuation guarantee charge which is affected by the repeal of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax bill

    On 5 September 2014, the Minerals Resource Rent Tax Repeal and Other Measures Bill 2014External Link, a new Bill that proposes to repeal the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) and related measures, received Royal Assent.

    This bill replaces the Minerals Resource Rent Tax Repeal and Other Measures Bill 2013 [No. 2] which will not proceed.

    Entities will not accrue further MRRT liabilities from 1 October 2014. The ATO will be consulting with industry to implement the administrative approach.

    The repeal of the company loss carry-back provisions applies from 1 July 2013 for most taxpayers. Companies who have claimed the offset and are now no longer eligible will be contacted by the ATO about their circumstances. The ATO will amend the affected assessments and taxpayers will not be subject to penalties and interest if payment is made within a reasonable time.

    The repeal of the provisions allowing small businesses asset write-off concessions apply from 1 January 2014 for most taxpayers. Those taxpayers who have lodged their 2013–14 income year return under the previous law should now seek amendments to reduce their depreciation claim. The ATO does not intend to apply penalties or the shortfall interest charge if taxpayers request an amendment to their assessment within a reasonable period of time.

    Find out more

    Government’s announcement to repeal the minerals resource rent tax law

    Company loss carry-back 

    Instant asset write-off and simplified depreciation

    Accelerated initial deduction for motor vehicles 

    Repeal of the deductibility of geothermal energy exploration expenditure 

    End of find out more

    The superannuation guarantee rate increased from 9.25% to 9.5% from 1July 2014 as currently legislated. The Government amendments to the legislation mean that the rate will remain at 9.5% until 30 June 2021 and then increase by 0.5 percentage points each year until it reaches 12%.

    Taxable payments annual reporting

    The ATO understands some agents were frustrated with our decision to provide tax agents and BAS agents with a lodgment concession for the 2014 Taxable payments annual reports (TPAR) after the due date. The ATO responded to the feedback received and acknowledged the difficulty agents experienced in lodging the annual report by providing a lodgment concession to 25 August 2014 for the 2014 Taxable payments annual report where the report was prepared and lodged by a tax agent or BAS agent for their clients.

    The statistics on the use of the TPAR are not yet available for reporting. A report will be prepared for the next meeting of the ATPAG in November 2014, and then presented to this group.

    A number of electronic record keeping packages are available that meet our requirements and can generate the electronic Taxable payments annual report data file. Agents can check for SBR enabled products that can be used to lodge the annual report direct from their systems at sbr.gov.auExternal Link or by looking up other software that can generate the annual report for lodging via the ATO portals using the software product register at softwaredevelopers.ato.gov.auExternal Link

    Post meeting update

    The taxable payments reporting system is covered under the Payment, ABN and Identification Verification System in Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (TAA). Under paragraph 405-10(1) of Schedule 1 to the TAA the report is to be lodged within 21 days after the end of the quarter. The Commissioner varied the reporting to annually and the report is due within 21 days after the end of the financial year.

    The information that is reported about individual contractors is used for pre-filling so the earlier it is received and processed, the earlier we can make it available.

    Where a business is having difficulty in lodging the annual report by the due date, they should contact the ATO for advice.

    ATO correspondence

    Following comment from tax practitioners on the wording of a number of pieces of ATO correspondence, work is being undertaken to review and revise where appropriate the wording in outgoing correspondence. Discussion is to be held with members of the ATO Tax Practitioner Advisory Group on how myGov correspondence can be delivered to tax practitioners.

    Agenda item 12: Meeting wrap up/close

    The meeting closed at 3.25pm.

    The next meeting will be held on Thursday 27 November by Videocon commencing at 9.30am.

      Last modified: 22 Dec 2014QC 43556