BAS Agent Association Group key messages 7 April 2022
Welcome and introduction
Co-chair Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson welcomed members, confirmed there were no variations to the meeting papers issued on 1 April 2022 and asked that any conflicts of interest be declared; none declared.
Members were reminded of the confidentiality of discussions held in the meeting.
Rob Boon has resigned and new member Charles Klvana was welcomed.
Members were reminded to forward nominations for potential new members from the BAS agent community to co-chair Kerrie Jarius or the secretariat.
What’s new in Online services for agents
Director David Baker provided an update on what’s new in Online services for agents and members discussed current issues and irritants.
Tax practitioners are encouraged to submit feedback on Online services for agents. The feedback that is received:
- provides a better insight to understanding the business impact, the system problem and assists with a system fix
- assists with the design of workarounds on the troubleshooting page
- is used to assess business impact and prioritise decisions on developing new functionality.
Prior to reporting any issues via feedback practitioners are asked to check the Online services for agents dashboard for any technical performance issues and the key changes pages for updates.
Members would like to see a roadmap of what’s planned for Online services for agents to provide feedback on what is a priority for agents. The ATO advised a roadmap is in development and an update will be provided at a future meeting.
Client specific nudge messaging
Assistant Commissioner Andrew Watson and Director Justine Williams provided an update on the client specific nudge messaging designed to improve the business activity statement (BAS) lodgment experience for businesses.
It was delivered in ATO Online for individuals and Online services for business in June 2021 for credit assessments and March 2022 for debit assessments. Further consultation will be conducted with tax professionals prior to delivery in Online services for agents.
By using analytics and predictive modelling, pre-lodgment nudge messages and real-time prompts allow businesses to review information, self-correct any errors and avoid post-lodgment adjustments or audit. The aim is to benefit businesses by reducing compliance costs and improve businesses confidence in the accuracy of assessments.
Members noted that BAS preparation is a small percentage of BAS agent duties and communications need to be tailored and more detailed for self-preparers with an ‘opt out’ option available.
Members observed that practice software is improving to identify and detect anomalies and provide a verification service. The ATO continues to liaise with digital software providers to complement and improve services being offered.
Australian Business Registry Services
Directors Robin Hayes, Eleanor Beer and Stephen Munic provided an update on director ID, the modernising business registers companies release and the Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS) agent model.
The onboarding of new registrants for director ID is progressing, noting that more than 350,000 applications have been received since November 2021. The ATO acknowledged the efforts of practitioners, professional associations and digital service providers (DSPs) in contributing to this take up.
The ATO commenced a communication and engagement strategy in April 2022 for over 2 million directors that still need to apply for a director ID, and for transitional arrangement changes commencing from 5 April 2022 that require:
- all new directors to apply for their director ID prior to their appointment
- a director appointed between 1 November 2021 and 4 April 2022, must apply within 28 days of their appointment.
Guidance is available on the ABRS websiteExternal Link and the ATO is actively participating in webinars and presentations, and appreciates the support received from industry and professional organisations in promoting and sharing information.
Members acknowledged that professional associations have provided appropriate communications and updates.
It was suggested that official reply messages for small business need to include some official identification of Government offices especially if applying using the manual system.
Companies release and the ABRS agent model
The companies release will enable companies to register, view and maintain their registration obligations in a more streamlined way, migrating over 3 million current company records from Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) into the ABRS.
A focus has been identifying all the stakeholders in the eco-system that will need to be engaged and educated, recognising that not all stakeholders have industry representation.
The ABRS agent registration process, required identifiers, experience and qualification levels needed to be an ABRS agent are still being determined in conjunction with key stakeholders.
Tax agents are key stakeholders who currently interact with the register while ASIC agents and DSPs will need to be onboarded noting that:
- ASIC agent registration conditions are less than the requirements for the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) registration.
- A DSP must be registered with the ABRS for the software to flow through and maintain the integrity of the system.
Members discussed the role of ABRS agent, how entities would manage ABRS access and offshore administration processes. They suggested that global teams with partisan agreements be considered going forward. The ATO is considering how to best support all different business models in operation.
Members noted the importance of not creating multiple systems or registration processes and recommended using the existing Relationship Authorisation Manager framework and leveraging off the TPB registration process for agents. A whole of Government solution was also recommended.
Lodge and pay
Assistant Commissioner Les De Wind provided an update on the current debt management approach, noting that the ongoing impacts of environmental challenges require individual tailored solutions and a balance of engagement and enforcement actions.
The ATO encourages clients to engage to receive assistance and support. Clients are encouraged to lodge even if they cannot pay at time of lodgment, and the ATO can assist with payment arrangement options.
Enforcement actions have recommenced including taking legal action against clients that choose to not engage with the ATO.
Two engagement and enforcement campaigns currently underway include director penalty notices (DPNs) and disclosure of business tax debts. Awareness letters have now been issued to all potential directors and clients who meet these criteria:
- A company director can be held personally liable for debts that relate to pay as you go withholding, GST and superannuation guarantee.
- The ATO now has the ability to disclose under certain criteria business tax debts greater than 90 days and in excess of $100,000 to credit reporting bureaus.
Clients already proactively engaging with the ATO are not captured under these strategies.
The ATO are refining communication around DPNs to ensure the message is reaching those who do not realise they have obligations as directors.
The ATO noted the planned re-raising of non-pursued debts.
Communication on these campaigns have been shared through various ATO stewardship and stakeholder groups together with ATO and professional association newsletter campaigns and media coverage.
Assistant Commissioner Michelle Allen and Risk director Rebecca Knill provided an update on superannuation guarantee (SG).
SG information on ato.gov.au is being updated with simpler, clearer language to assist employers to get it right.
The SG rate will rise from 10% to 10.5% on 1 July 2022 and progressively increase to 12% by July 2025. The SG contributions calculator can assist employers to calculate the amount they will need to pay their employees after 1 July 2022
Employers using commercial clearing houses must ensure the fund itself receives the contribution by the 28th day. Any changes to timeframes would require a law change. Commercial superannuation clearing houses have individual payment processing timeframes.
BAS agents can be added as an authorised contact to make it easier for them to contact the ATO to discuss their client’s superannuation guarantee charge (SGC) account information, or request extensions. BAS agents are able to lodge SCG statements for their clients using ATO online services.
Members noted that businesses are being penalised despite making a payment prior to the 28th day. Professional associations will look to pursue a legislative change through Treasury regarding timeframes.
Members reiterated that BAS agents require system access to SGC client information.
Review of superannuation standard choice form
Assistant Commissioner Tracie Crowden and Director Katie Constance provided an update on changes to the superannuation standard choice form.
Based on feedback received in November 2021 changes have been made to the design and content of the superannuation standard choice form.
The ATO is currently user testing alternative designs of the form to improve the user experience.
Members provided suggestions for consideration:
- Employers may not be aware of the functionality in myGov in terms of onboarding employees. More communication is needed to make employers aware systems are already in place.
- Rather than advising small business that there is a new superannuation standard choice form the language should be ‘myGov will onboard your employees in a more accurate way'.
- Designing a single form.
- Email may be compromised and is not a secure channel for lodging sensitive personal information.
- There is a misconception that submitting the form is the equivalent of signing the form/declaration and that signing a consent is also required.
- Members recommended adding a check/tick box for employees with the wording ‘I choose to use my existing (stapled) superannuation fund’. Employees are often unintentionally choosing the default employer superannuation fund.
Tax Practitioners Board
The Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) provided a report in the meeting papers to update members on TPB activities. No further discussion was held on the day.
Lodgment program review
Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson and Director Katrina Donelan provided an update on the lodgment program review and progress of the Lodgment Program Review Working Group (LPRWG) with a focus on the BAS agent program.
Feedback received by the LPRWG has been categorised into 4 key themes:
- lodgment and payment pressure points
- access to the program, performance and management.
Smaller focus groups will be formed to concentrate on the issues raised; confirm the correct issues to be worked on and to begin to develop tangible recommendations to improve or resolve the issues. The focus will not only be on short term changes but will consider transformational change.
Members were asked to consider and raise any further issues from a BAS agent perspective.
Members agreed the issues summarised correctly identified pressures on practitioners. They noted that the BAS agent lodgment program differs from that of tax agents and they have different workflow patterns.
Members highlighted that many firms are now doing both tax and BAS tasks and to review by functionality irrespective if the work is completed by a BAS or tax agent.
Members requested a flexible program to reflect the challenges of the current environment.
Taxable payments reporting system
Director Vlad Dugandzic and Assistant Director Samantha Francis provided an update on taxable payments reporting system highlighting who is required to lodge a taxable payments annual report (TPAR).
A TPAR non lodgment advice reporting form is now available on ATO online services for individuals, business and agents. This form provides an instant lodgment confirmation, allows for multiple year lodgments and provides a history of TPAR lodgment. Within the online form there is the ability to advise the ATO the client no longer has a requirement to lodge a TPAR.
Members commented that may businesses feel that TPAR is an administrative burden and that business codes and how the ATO articulates what a business does doesn’t accommodate for different business models.
Members suggested changing the TPAR lodgment due date to quarterly with a different due date than BAS cycle to even out workflow.
Post meeting information – lodging via Online services for agents
TPAR for the 2022 financial year are due by 28 August 2022. Clients may need to a lodge a TPAR to report payments they made to contractors if their business provides:
- building and constructions services
- cleaning services
- courier or road freight services
- information technology services
- security, investigation, or surveillance services.
They can find more information about whether they need to lodge on the Taxable payments annual report webpage.
If a client does not need to lodge a TPAR, advise the ATO and we will update our records to avoid unnecessary follow up. TPAR Non-lodgment advice can be submitted via Online services for agents. Find out how to do that at TPAR Non-lodgment advice.l
Those still using the online web form to lodge a TPAR Non-lodgment advice (NLA) on behalf of clients will need to switch to Online services for agents as this form will not be available after 30 June 2022.
Benefits of using Online services
You will find that Online services is a better digital experience and will be easier for you. It is secure, simple and you can use it at any time on multiple devices, including your phone or tablet. You can use Online services to:
- get a receipt confirming your lodgment
- lodge multiple years on one NLA
- tell us if your client does not have a future TPAR lodgment obligation.
Co-chairs Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson and Kerrie Jarius facilitated a group discussion for members to identify items that are impacting the profession.
Members asked the ATO to recognise that practitioners have different levels of understanding and experience and take this into account during outbound calls to practitioners.
A member provided positive feedback on ATO webinar ‘Using your business money and assets’.
Professional associations are recommending members use the Tax practitioner assistance service when required and will consider running an awareness campaign for BAS agents to advertise the service.
Single Touch Payroll
Assistant Commissioner Jason Lucchese and Director Chontelle Weyman provided an update on Single Touch Payroll (STP) Phase 2 transition, resources available to support agents and the Corrections Framework.
Whilst STP Phase 2 requires employers to include additional information in their STP report, the fundamentals of STP reporting and an employer’s underlying tax and super obligations and Fair Work obligations are not changing:
Recently, new resources were published including a factsheet, employer checklist and tax and BAS professional checklist.
As of 28 March 2022, over 69,000 employers covering more than 793,000 individuals were reporting through Phase 2.
Penalty notices have started to issue to employers failing to commence STP reporting despite receiving several nudge messages and offers of support.
An online bulk agent deferral process was released on 8 March 2022.
A roundtable will be held in April to discuss opportunities to enhance support for clients and align communication and promotion activities of the ATO, professional associations and larger DSPs.
The corrections framework for STP reporting has not changed for STP Phase 2 and timely corrections remain important.
The ATO and Services Australia understands this is a change process and there may be a level of nervousness from employers and their agents about making mistakes. For this reason, during this transitional year, 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022 there will be no penalties for employers or agents for genuine mistakes.
More information can be found at Correcting information reported in STP.
Other business and meeting close
Members were provided with written updates in the meeting papers for:
Summary of key topics discussed at the BAS Agent Association Group meeting 7 April 2022.
- eInvoicing intermediary update
- Evolution of the Client Register project.