BAS Agent Association Group key messages 23 April 2020
Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) update-Extension of BAS agent services
Through extensive consultation with the professional bodies and the ATO on 15 April 2020 the TPB registered a legislative instrument, taking effect on 16 April to extend the services that BAS agents can legally provide.
The need to issue the instrument arose due to the introduction of the JobKeeper Payment and the cash flow boost initiative that form part of the Government’s COVID-19 stimulus measures that recently received Royal Assent.
The TPB is of the view that this outcome reflects a sensible and appropriate approach to support the Government’s support and assistance.
BAS agents need to be mindful that under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009, all tax practitioners are bound by a legislated Code of Professional Conduct. It is important to note that while the TPB instrument allows BAS agents to legally advise about the JobKeeper payment and cash flow boost - BAS agents must have the requisite skills, knowledge or expertise to provide the services listed in the instrument.
Enrolments for JobKeeper payments opened on Monday 20 April 2020. Businesses and their employees must be eligible to enrol. If a business requires more time to register and enrol, they have until 31 May to do so. The ATO will endeavour to publish some guidance around these dates as the legislation states enrol and register by 30 April 2020. However the Commissioner has exercised his discretion and enrolments will be accepted up to the 31 May 2020.
The ATO is continuing to take large volumes of calls. The phone lines remain open until 10.00pm AEST, Monday to Friday. The ATO continues to make updates to the website with a published timeline for contents. The ATO recently released JobKeeper guides providing a step by step process.
You can subscribe to the latest COVID-19 updates including JobKeeper using RSS - ATO COVID-19
Cash flow boost
A system update has been deployed to apply cash flow boost and the crediting and refund mechanism for cash flow boost is now in effect when activity statements are lodged. For clients who have already lodged and are due a refund, this will issue shortly. Information that refunds will not issue until 28 April 2020 on the website has been removed.
The ATO has implemented further support initiatives with lodgment and payment deferrals in place for:
- company 2018–19 income tax returns now due on 5 June 2020
- self-managed superannuation funds 2018–19 annual returns now due on 30 June 2020
- fringe benefits tax 2019–20 annual returns and payment deferred to 25 June 2020
- individual, partnership, and trust 2018–19 income tax returns now with a lodgment and payment concessional due date of 5 June 2020.
Tax professionals will also not be adversely affected if they do not meet the 85% lodgment program performance benchmark.
Early release of Superannuation
Applications opened on 20 April 2020 for early release of Superannuation. The ATO is not in a position to share application volumes.
Some agents may receive generic SMS or emails stating that an application for early release has been approved not knowing to which client it refers. The ATO utilises the client mobile number and client email address as it is recorded in the client file and the generic message is occurring because tax professionals have used their own mobile number or email address in place of their clients. This outcome is regrettable but in addition to the approval SMS, applicants will receive formal correspondence with details of the approval and the details are visible to agents through the client Communication list.
Summary of key topics discussed at the BAS Agent Association Group meeting 23 April 2020.