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  • Tax Profession Digital Implementation Group key messages 25 November 2022

    Key topics discussed at the Tax Profession Digital Implementation Group meeting 25 November 2022.

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    Welcome and introduction

    Following the retirement of Assistant Commissioner Kerry O’Loghlin, Assistant Commissioner Melanie Casey is the new co-chair of this group. Melanie is looking forward to working with the group in 2023

    Kath Anderson and Mike Behling welcomed members.

    2030 Tax Practitioner Experience Strategy

    Strategic Goal 2 – Safeguard the security of the tax, super and registry data and IT systems

    Cyber security awareness and practice

    The ATO shared information about the ATO cyber security environment, emphasising that while there has been no cyber incident for the ATO, we recognise the impact that recent cyber incidents (Optus, Medibank) are having in the Australian community.

    The ATO has considered and produced four cyber security principles that can be applied to all organisations to address the threats:

    • Stop the bad guys coming in - have systems and controls to prevent breaches.
    • Expect a breach – when there is one, how do you stop activity within systems?
    • Stop the bad people looking at, changing, extracting or deleting data.
    • How quickly can you recover and reinstate services and data that hasn’t been compromised?

    The group discussed:

    • agent awareness and capability of the tax practitioner community, noting there is substantial disparity depending on the size of the organisation
    • the opportunity to start looking at existing behaviours and practices as these can often be drivers that lead to a vulnerability, for example, unnecessary storage of emails that can be used to infiltrate an organisation
    • the use of the Australian Cyber Security Centre resources as a guide to see what is applicable
    • some of the controls and protections in place within member organisations.
    Member comments

    There is a lot of information available. It would be beneficial to have a ‘top 5 things to do, to protect yourself’ for the industry, and a ‘first-aid – how to manage a breach’ one pager.

    Strategic Goal 3 – Improve tax performance for clients of tax practitioners

    Lodgment deferral update in Online services for agents

    The ATO is seeking to implement a lodgment deferral feature within Online services for agents in mid-2023.

    The functionality will either enable real-time finalisation or within 48 hours where there are multiple clients for low-risk deferral requests.

    With the implementation of the new functionality in Online services for agents, the ATO is seeking to understand if there is a possibility to develop a wholesale solution and if so, the best way to promote it.

    Member comments
    • ensure there is a clear narrative about the upcoming changes and what it means for tax practitioner’s up front.
    • from the digital service provider (DSP) perspective, the product needs to be fit for purpose. DSPs will not pick it up if it is a service being provided in Online services for agents.
    • suggested channels to raise awareness of the changes included
      • promotion across several social media platforms
      • professional associations providing targeted change information to their members
      • short instructional video to assist in promoting awareness of the new functionalities being introduced.

    Digital Uplift Strategy – Tax professionals

    Th ATO provided a recap of the intent and scope of the strategy, which was first introduced to Tax Profession Digital Implementation Group (TPDIG) members at the August 2022 meeting and detailed the proposed approach for implementing the strategy which comprises 5 sequential stages – submission, assessment, prioritisation, packaging and endorsement.

    Submissions will be sought from ATO stakeholders, the tax profession and digital service providers. All submissions will be assessed in alignment with the principles of fairness and transparency, with decisions being objective and defensible.

    We remain open and flexible around the implementation approach.

    We will schedule a standing Digital Uplift Strategy – Tax professionals agenda item to engage TPDIG members in the implementation of the strategy.

    It is anticipated that an invitation will be extended to members to make submissions under the Digital Uplift Strategy in the first quarter of 2023.

    Member comments
    • Members are very supportive of the strategy and systematic approach.
    • Understanding the time frames around the submission process will be important.
    • To help make the changes work for the profession, consider bundling several initiatives together and release at once rather than rolling out releases every month.
    • Adequate notification of release plan would enable the profession to prepare and train staff.
    • Visibility of the submission process is important and should provide clarity on the progress of the project outcomes and updates received.

    The ATO will provide a clear time frame for the Digital Uplift Strategy submission process once the strategy has received Deputy Commissioner approval.

    Strategic Goal 4 – Increase trust and confidence in the tax, super and registry systems

    TPDIG membership refresh 2023

    The ATO confirmed that a membership refresh would be undertaken in 2023, commencing in the first quarter, and thanked the departing members for their service and contributions.

    Member comments

    Members provided their input into the future composition of the membership:

    • Include a security specialist to provide insights from a DSPs perspective.
    • Involve a broader cross section of agents to counteract the current gap in membership.
    • Be mindful to have only one representative per company.
    • Impartiality and transparency should be applied to the process.

    Environmental scan

    Members discussed what is being experienced, trends and items impacting the tax profession from a digital perspective.

    Other business

    The ATO provided an update on:

    • client agent linking
    • enhanced prefill
    • function available in Online services for agents that allows agents to adjust prefill amounts if the prefill amount provided is incorrect
    • consumer and taxpayer data rights.

    Action item

    20221125_02 Prefill expansion opportunities

    Due date

    March 2023


    Sylvia Gallagher, ATO Strategy and Support

    Action item details

    ATO to discuss legislation blockers in relation to paper exceptions (e.g., tradies with receipts on their dashboards), with TPDIG member, to identify prefill expansion opportunities.

    Strategic Goal 5 – Empower tax practitioners to add value to their clients through sustainable operations

    ATO digital refresh strategy overview 2022–2025

    The ATO provided an overview of the refreshed ATO Digital Strategy which outlines the critical next steps in the ATO’s digital transformation journey.

    Over the next 3 years, the strategy aims to continue the digitalisation of processes and services to improve client and staff experiences, drive improved tax performance and reduce administration costs.

    Key initiatives to be delivered include:

    • continuing the digitalisation of correspondence and communications
    • operationalising the digital services gateway
    • expanding digital identity to minimise fraud
    • evolving fraud monitoring and management for digital services.

    The strategy will enable the ATO to significantly improve experiences within the tax, super and registry systems and lay the foundations to achieve our aspiration to be fully digitalised by 2030.

    Member comments
    • In response to the initiatives being delivered, members expressed their anticipation for the digital transformation journey, in particular GST reporting, but questioned the reference to real time.
    • Regarding the vision and aspirational statements, a member advised that work is required regarding the inclusion and involvement of the tax profession.

    The ATO advised real time referred to the natural time for reporting.

    Action item

    20221125_01 Channel Strategy

    Due date

    March 2023


    Sylvia Gallagher, ATO Strategy and Support

    Action item details

    ATO to provide the intended outcome of the strategy.


    Action item

    20221125_03 Digital Uplift Strategy

    Due date

    March 2023



    Action item details

    Members were asked to nominate to participate in an out of session to test the template and FAQs to refine.

    Action item update

    20220624_01 – Cyber security awareness
    This action item is closed following discussion held in the meeting today.

    20211123_01 – Statement of Intent and membership refresh
    This action item is closed. Feedback will be incorporated into the 2023 TPDIG membership refresh.

      Last modified: 20 Feb 2023QC 71433