BAS Agent Association Group key messages 3 August 2021
Welcome and introduction
Chairperson Assistant Commissioner Sylvia Gallagher welcomed members and formally welcomed Kerrie Jarius as the co-chair of the BASAAG.
Outgoing BASAAG member John Birse was acknowledged and thanked for his time, support, and valuable contributions over the years of his membership.
The BASAAG charter was endorsed, and it was noted that standard charters have been adopted by all ATO consultative groups to ensure consistency between the groups. It was noted that the BASAAG is classified as a Stakeholder Relationship Group under the ATO consultation framework and is not a sub-group of the Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group (TPSG).
Nominations for new members have been received. New members will be contacted and invited as guests for the October 2021. The group membership will be refreshed and restructured at the next meeting.
Members were given the opportunity to comment on the membership restructure and to declare any conflict of interest. None were received.
Action item update
Action item 28104021-01: Member asked if any data was available that demonstrates agents play a key role in ensuring that company records are accurately maintained (e.g. comparison of companies with and without agents by date records were last updated).
ATO response: Approximately 60% of all ASIC company lodgments in 2019–20 were made by registered agents. 75% of all companies use an ASIC registered agent, which is 42% of public companies and 74% of proprietary companies.
It is not feasible to provide more detailed information on company record updates at this time due to the complex analysis required to determine the source. It is expected that this data will be more readily available when registers are available on the modernised platform.
This action item is now closed.
Assistant Commissioner Martin Jacobs and Assistant Director Elena Kerr provided an update on director ID.
As previously advised, directors are required to apply for their own director ID as they will be required to verify their identity. The ATO recognise the role of agents in supporting directors and are developing guidance material for agents, to assist them to support their clients.
Members were provided with an update from the private beta being conducted. The first phase of the private beta testing, the digital application phase, has been completed and phase two has now begun.
The ATO recognises that not all directors will be able to apply online and is testing alternate methods of registration. Once testing of all channels is completed the private beta will move to public beta.
For further information and to keep up to date visit ato.gov.au/mbr.
Member recommended the ATO provide agents with an information pack to assist agents to educate clients on the requirement to register for a Director ID.
Member suggested additional information to be added to the ASIC annual return advising directors of the requirement to apply for a Director ID.
It was noted that this change is an opportunity to make directors aware of their responsibilities and requirements as a director. It was suggested to include a tick box asking; “Are you aware of your personal, legal and criminal obligations as a director?” and include a website link to an information page detailing directors’ legal obligations.
Professional Associations offered to assist the ATO with communications and education.
Taxable Payments Reporting System/Black Economy update
Assistant Commissioner Peter Holt, Director Samantha Francis and Assistant Director Grant Leef provided an update on the Taxable Payments Reporting System (TPRS) and the Black Economy.
The ATO have improved the client experience for Tax Time 2021 by providing additional information in prefill for government grant recipients and their tax agents to self-assess if the grant is considered non assessable non-exempt income.
- The Federal Government can declare eligible business support grants as non-assessable, non-exempt (NANE) income. This means grant recipients do not include NANE income in their income tax return and they do not pay tax on it.
- The ATO has made improvements to the Taxable Payments Annual Report (TPAR) grant information available in pre-fill as information only, to include an alert to clients where the grant reported may be eligible as NANE.
For more information about Government grants and NANE refer to ato.gov.au
The TPAR non lodgment advice (TPAR NLA) is available through Online Services for Agents (OSfA). the TPAR NLA allows lodgment of NLA for multiple years and where required further return not necessary. When lodging TPAR or TPAR NLA successfully a lodgment confirmation receipt ID will be provided. The option to print is available including print to PDF. More information on lodging, can be found at TPAR Non-lodgment advice.
The ATO will recommence the TPRS outbound communication program from September 2021 focusing on:
- Education and support to clients and assessing their requirement to lodge a TPAR, including supporting new business and their potential requirement to report.
- Raising awareness and encouraging digital lodgment.
- Working with Government entities to ensure they are lodging TPAR and reviewing their TPAR non lodgment advice (NLA).
Taxable Payments Annual Report upcoming lodgment due date
The Taxable Payments Annual Report (TPAR) is due on 28 August each year. Tax agents who have clients that may need to complete a TPAR should receive their lodgment list by early August. The ATO recognise that sometimes clients can’t meet their lodgment obligations on time, even with the best of intentions. Key reminders are:
- It is important to lodge on time, by the of 28 August.
- Do not lodge a non-lodgment advice to delay lodgment. The ATO intend to check non-lodgment advices based on risk selection, particularly if the ATO consider a TPAR needs to be lodged.
Supporting the Tax Profession
Director Ken Kua provided an update on the Tax Practitioner Adverse Event Response Framework (the framework).
In response to an adverse event, the framework will enhance the ATO’s insight and reach, providing support to tax professionals while they continue to support their clients in meeting their tax and super obligations.
An adverse event is any event which is considered disruptive, and may include bushfires, floods, cyclones, economic crises, terrorism or cyber events.
The framework has been co-designed with Tax Professional Association members and aligns to the ATO’s Business Continuity Management framework. It encompasses the following components:
- ATO Business Continuity Management.
- Response and support for tax practitioners and their clients affected by a major adverse event.
- Rapid response group, consisting of stakeholders from relevant areas of the ATO, members of tax professional associations and the broader profession.
- Long-term impact assessment.
- Information and communication approach.
- Mental health and wellbeing.
Members supported the development of the framework and stated the framework gives tax practitioners something to assess what the impact is on the tax system as a result of an adverse event.
Assistant Commissioner Sarah Vawser provided an update on outbound communication preference changes in Online Services for Agents (OSFA) as a result of the release of APIs to enable wholesale services.
From July 2021 digital service providers may choose to include communication preferences and history in their software services. As a result, this will create multiple potential digital channels.
To ensure notices are served in accordance with the law, the preferred address for digital communication needs to be specified. Only OSFA can be designated as the preferred electronic address for service for agents to receive communications digitally on behalf of their clients.
The declaration in OSFA has been changed to make it clear to agents that setting preferences to ‘Practice', will designate OSFA as their client’s preferred address for service for digital correspondence. Express written authority from clients is still required (no change to this).
There will be no impacts for clients an agent has already set communication preferences for. Existing declarations do not need to be updated.
To improve the agent experience proposed future changes will include updates to:
- Client mail inbox - to only show notifications to the agent who has been served (sent) the communication.
- Communication history - so agents can easily identify what communications have been sent to them, and which communications have been sent to another agent.
- Members would like the ATO to work towards BAS agents being notified through their practice management software that correspondence has issued from the ATO as many BAS agents don’t log into OSfA unless there is a compelling reason to, and therefore correspondence may be missed.
- Members requested the ATO consider customising a request in OSfA. There are currently standard emails that can sent through the mailbox, but can they be customised to ask a specific question rather than a pre-set question that is outlined by the ATO as a form.
- Members would like to be able to share communications through practice mail rather than the inbox. The option of a two-way communication with the ATO, to be able to send a specific question to the ATO and receive an answer back rather than having to phone the ATO.
- Digital correspondence visibility and preferencing is currently not an option on Online Services for Business. There is a feature to access the correspondence but no notification advising correspondence is available. ATO response: The ATO is looking at the digital inbox and how digital mail is delivered.
- Currently communication preferencing has two columns: ‘practice and client’. Members would like three columns consisting of ‘tax agent, BAS agent and client’.
- Members recommend an article for the BAS and tax agent newsletters regarding BAS agent authority being inadvertently removed by tax agents with a with an explanation of what that is and how it happens.
Digital Education Program
Director Ben Lurje provided an update on the Tax professionals digital education series video pilot. The series has been designed to deliver practical and tailored education to tax professionals on a range of topics.
In early 2021 the ATO consulted with a group of tax and BAS agents on the co-design of a pilot suite of videos. These first four instructional videos along with a promotional video were published to ATOtv on 10 June 2021. The pilot suite of videos below can be viewed at Digital education resources and the video topics include:
A communication strategy has commenced to promote the Tax professionals digital education series using a mix of channels to raise awareness of the products. Further video topics are planned with the next release due in October 2021.
- Members recommended the videos include topics such as:
- myGov and RAM
- regular update of ‘What’s new in OSfA’
- Director ID
- Superannuation Guarantee Charge statements (compliance)
- Members suggested another style of videos featuring short snapshots of ATO compliance messages that agents can use to assist with educating clients.
- Member recommended for the series to concentrate on education and training of tax practitioners first, then a series for the business and taxpayer training.
- Member would like to see an option to provide feedback on the video platform.
- Members commented that this was a positive and practical initiative.
Your future, Your Super and stapled super fund online service/s
Assistant Commissioner Tracie Crowden and Assistant Director Caryn Kaluzinski provided an update on Your Future, Your Super and stapled super fund online services.
The interactive online YourSuper comparison tool launched on 1 July 2021 allowing a comparison of a number of MySuper products and is available in ATO Online services (via myGov) and via www.ato.gov.au/yoursuper. YourSuper Comparison Tool will provide information for an Individual to see how mySuper products are performing along with their fees and returns.
The information displayed in the comparison tool is collated and supplied by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).
From 31 August 2021, the tool will show how APRA rated the annual performance of each MySuper product. Until then, all funds will show as Not assessed in the Investment Performance column.
From 1 November 2021 the Stapled Super Fund process aims to minimise unintended multiple super accounts for employees who do not choose a super fund when they start a new job. The changes require employers to make super guarantee contributions to an employee’s existing ‘stapled super fund’ where the employee has not chosen a fund. Employers will need to ask the ATO whether a stapled super fund for their employee exists before using their default fund.
If the ATO confirms no stapled super fund exists for the employee, super guarantee contributions can be made to the employer’s default fund or a fund specified under a workplace determination or an enterprise agreement (if the determination was made before 1 January 2021).
Failure to request a stapled super fund when required could mean that the employer will be subject to super guarantee charge for failing to meet choice of fund rules.
From the 1 November 2021 Stapled super fund requests can be made via:
- ATO Online services for business, for employers
- ATO Online services for individuals and sole traders; for sole traders
- ATO Online services for agents, for tax professionals
A bulk upload solution to assist employers and their agents in making large volume (over 100) stapled super fund requests is expected to be available from 1 November 2021.
More information can be found at:
- Members recommend lowering bulk uploads of 100 employees to 20 employees or more as over 20 employees it is not practical to input information one at a time especially with a large onboarding of clients.
- Member asked what happens in the event an award states a particular Super Fund be used? ATO response: In that situation if an employee is eligible for choice, choice comes first, stapled fund comes second; If the ATO responds that there is no stapled fund then superannuation is paid to an industry fund. Members commented that this information should be available on ATO documentation as a guide.
- Members queried if the stapled fund will be prioritised over the Fair Work obligations of an award. Members would like the legal back up for this, to show Fair Work SA that ATO regulations were followed rather than Fair Work rules.
Tax Practitioners Board
Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) Secretary/Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Neill provided an update from the TPB.
- State Government based grants and stimulus measures are not Commonwealth law and therefore are not tax practitioner services as prescribed by the TASA. The TPB is not a regulator for these State Government grants.
- TPB client service standards exceeded 91% in 2021 for renewal and new member registrations. Webinars continue to be popular and the TPB welcomes feedback for future webinar topics.
- The TPB reminded members to ensure personal indemnity insurance is up to date.
- The ATO has shared various intelligence with the TPB identifying tax practitioners that may be undermining the stimulus measures on behalf of clients and/or themselves. Currently there are 130 active COVID compliance cases.
- The TPB have a range of approaches to mitigate misconduct with regards to Cash Flow Boost case outcomes and JobKeeper case outcomes referred by the ATO. Treatment plans for cases vary depending on a risk assessment, the evidence available, and the specific circumstances of each case. High risk cases include where false information has been deliberately or recklessly provided, and at the lower end cases involve genuine mistakes such as keying errors or lodging applications incorrectly.
- To date 17 cases involving serious COVID stimulus measure misconduct have been presented to the BCC resulting in the imposition of sanctions ranging from suspensions to terminations with five-year exclusionary periods.
- The TPB continues to work with its key stakeholders, including the recognised professional associations and stakeholders in the education sector, in its review of the TPB’s requirements for courses approved by the Board for tax and BAS agents and the primary qualifications required for registration.
Other business and meeting close
Members thanked John Birse for his time and contribution at meetings.
The next meeting is scheduled for Friday 8 October 2021. The venue and format of the meeting will be advised closer to the date.
Agenda topics for this meeting can be forwarded to BASAAG@ato.gov.au.
Summary of key topics discussed at the BAS Agent Association Group meeting 3 August 2021.