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  • BAS Agent Association Group key messages 16 October 2019

    Welcome

    The BAS Agent Association Group (BASAAG) meeting was held via telepresence on Wednesday 16 October 2019. Members were welcomed and apologies noted. New Chairperson Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson was welcomed by members.

    Cash Flow Tool

    Presenters: Andrew Watson, Ken Reid, Lorelie Roe ATO.

    Members were provided with a demonstration of the current BETA version of the digital cash flow coaching kit. There are three phases of the cash flow coaching kit suite. Phase one is the paper kit for practitioners to use in coaching conversations with their clients to help them understand and take positive actions to improve their business cash flow. The second phase is turning the paper kit into a digital kit with a .com.au site website currently under development. The third phase is allowing small businesses to search and find the digital Cash Flow Coaching Kit. The marketing, communications and public relations strategy, and the kit itself, will include a behavioural insights ‘nudge’ approach encouraging small businesses to contact their tax professional about using the Cash Flow Coaching Kit to improve their cash flow management and mitigate debt.

    Professional associations (and their members) will be free to promote and adopt the product, apply their own brand and make it available to their members.

    Currently available is a kit with educational resources used interactively to assist tax practitioners to have a coaching conversation with their clients on managing their business cash flow.

    Members would appreciate future opportunities to provide feedback through a consultation process with the ATO. Members suggested the ATO give some thought as to how to connect BAS agents to areas of the business community that could benefit from this product. The ATO is considering this as part of their next steps.

    Discussion was held in relation to the possibility of the Australian Business Register guiding new Australian Business Number (ABN) applicants to the product when applying for an ABN. Currently there are no mandates prior to an ABN being provided.

    The ATO is considering how to make the information available to the business community to enable businesses to make better informed decisions.

    Online BAS Check

    Presenters: Rosie Cicchitti, Maria-Luisa Roache

    The Online BAS Check is currently in the Delivery Planning phase.

    A predictive model has been developed, tested and is currently in the analysing and refining stage. Members were provided with a demonstration of a prototype of the Online BAS Check. A number of BAS Validation rules have also been developed and are currently being quality assessed.

    The Online BAS check will generate real time messaging whilst an electronic BAS is being completed and provides the opportunity for corrections to be made prior to lodgment of the Activity Statement.

    The ATO has consulted with a working party comprised of tax practitioners and digital service providers to co design the Online BAS Check solution. The solution comprises of messages, reason codes and a BAS lodgment history table.

    The Online BAS check is designed for ATO Online Services and Standard Business Reporting and is expected to be delivered in 2020 post implementation of Activity Statement Financial Processing.

    Tax Practitioners Board update

    Presenter: Michael O'Neill Tax Practitioners Board.

    An overview of recent Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) activities was provided to members.

    The TPB is targeting the highest risk practitioners and is acting on misconduct and non-compliance activities. A media releaseExternal Link was published on 12 September 2019 to highlight an increased focus on fraudulent BAS activity.

    Following the release of the Review of the Tax Practitioners Board - Discussion PaperExternal Link in July, a second round of consultation has now occurred – attended by most of the main professional associations plus other interested stakeholders.

    The TPB received many quality review submissions from the consultation process. The review team had further meetings with relevant Government regulators and agencies. The closing date for submissions has now passed and the Final Report for Government was submitted on 31 October 2019.

    The 2018–19 Annual Report was tabled in Parliament in late October.

    Members stated their appreciation of TPB communication fact sheets now available that can be used by professional associations. Feedback from the BASAAG practitioner community has been positive.

    Branch registrations transition

    The TPB has ceased issuing branch registrations and is now assisting tax practitioners with the transition to other business options.

    Under the current registration process, the registration of branches is not legislatively prescribed under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA) and is a practice adopted previously from State Boards to manage internal processes and client lists.

    Practitioners should be looking to manage these processes and client lists through alternate software solutions.

    The TPB is seeing an increase in interest from tax practitioners on this issue, advising there are significant business impacts in the client lists and how they are structured.

    It is designing a new communication strategy for tax practitioners who have branches and the messages are:

    • the TPB will no longer issue new branch registrations and we will work with tax practitioners with existing branch registrations to enable cancellation of those branch registrations
    • TPB key client managers have been and are working with larger entities who have multiple branches to support tax practitioners in cancelling their branches
    • if tax practitioners still have branch registrations at the time of renewal, a Client Services case officer will contact them to discuss how to reduce their branch registrations.

    In its analysis, the TPB identified that 300 branches were no longer being used by one tax practitioner and they were cancelled, while other tax practitioners have been able to reduce their registration numbers on an ongoing basis.

    The TPB is open to concerns and will review the cessation of branch registrations on a case by case basis.

    At 25 September 2018 there were 915 practitioner registrations with a total of 1,868 branches. This number has reduced and as at 10 October 2019 there were 635 practitioner registrations with a total of 1,115 branches.

    Single Touch Payroll

    Presenter: Angela Lehmann ATO.

    As at 8 October 2019, over 480,000 employers have transitioned to Single Touch Payroll (STP) and are now reporting their employees’ tax and super information each pay day. Over 55% of small employers are either reporting through STP, have opted for an available concession or applied for a deferral.

    If you have clients who haven’t started reporting or chosen a pathway to transition to STP, it’s not too late for you to support them to either:

    • start reporting now
    • apply for a quarterly reporting concession
    • apply for more time if they aren’t quite ready.

    The ATO has continually consulted with employers and has issued new concessions based on feedback from employers. Seasonal employers can report quarterly and choose no requirement to report option from the business portal once the seasonal reporting period has finished. Allowances for quarterly concessional reporting allowances have been made for the Agriculture, Fishing and Forestry industries. Quarterly reporting for employers in the agriculture, fishing and forestry industry provides the flexibility for micro employers (1-4 employees) in the industry to report on a quarterly basis at the same time they lodge their activity statement through an STP enabled solution or a registered agent.

    Not for profit committees, clubs and associations with 1-4 employees in the micro size bracket can utilise quarterly reporting options. This concession provides the flexibility for micro not for profit clubs and associations (such as school and sporting club canteens and school P&F committees) to report on a quarterly basis at the same time they lodge their activity statement.

    Key points to note:

    • the STP report does not need to be lodged by a registered agent
    • the STP report needs to be lodged through an STP-enabled solution
    • the concession is available until 30 June 2021 (subject to a review of quarterly reporting)
    • employers or their registered agents need to apply for this concession.

    Concessions are available for employers with closely held payees:

    • 12 month exemption for 2019–20 for reporting closely held payees
    • quarterly reporting for closely held payees from 1 July 2020 after the exemption period, this will be due at the same time as the activity statement. Note, the STP report must be lodged through an STP-enabled solution
    • employers can make reasonable estimates each quarter of the amounts paid to closely held payees. These methods are the same as the way the calculate pay as you go (PAYG) instalments
    • if an employer chooses to report closely held payees quarterly, they will have up to the due date of their income tax return to finalise the information they’ve reported and make any adjustments.

    Refer to seasonal and intermittent employers for more information, eligibility criteria and instructions on how to apply for concessional reporting.

    Members were of the opinion that ATO consultation workshops have been successful and informative.

    In the coming weeks the ATO will be providing agents with a list of their clients and their STP status. The list will include employer clients who:

    • are yet to transition
    • have applied for, or have been granted a deferral/exemption
    • have opted for a concessional reporting option.

    For more information visit ato.gov.au/STP and go to the News, events and resources page which includes a range of information and resources to help you understand STP. You can use or share this content with your clients.

    Activity Statement Financial Processing

    Presenters: Mary Arrowsmith, David Baker, Katrena Cawthorne ATO.

    In December 2019 the ATO will move the majority of taxpayer financial information into a single system, with multiple accounts. More than 17 million accounts (activity statement and franking deficit tax accounts) will move into the accounting system currently used for income tax. Excise accounts will be moved at a later date.

    This program of work is called Activity statement financial processing and it provides a foundation for future enhancements. For practitioners, for the most part there is no major overall change, however there are a number of small improvements and new functions to Online services that agents will see post deployment, including:

    • simplified transaction descriptions that use abbreviations for common tax types
    • a summarised view of statement of account transactions, with an ability to expand to view full account transaction lists
    • for tax agents – an ability to see pay as you go (PAYG) withholding director penalty accounts against individual director tax file numbers
    • payment plans with an enabled direct debit option
    • activity statement due dates that incorporate the concessional lodgment period, removing the need to add four weeks to the due date on the activity statement to determine the actual lodgment date.

    The ATO is working with practitioners and professional associations during the final stages of planning. To minimise disruptions to ATO system availability, the work will begin during the ATO’s annual Christmas closure. We will keep you updated on system availability in the Tax professionals newsletters and on our System maintenance page as well as our system dashboards.

    Consultation with agents, conducted in July and August confirmed that the changes brought about by Activity statement financial processing were manageable.

    Consultation also highlighted:

    • an emerging preference for SMS alerts over email for system downtimes associated with the Christmas shut-down
    • that BAS agents and Tax Agents had different audience needs in terms of timing of communications
    • the shutdown would impact agents that were not made aware of it before time
    • some clients might miss their first lodgment due date under the new arrangements because they are currently factoring in a concessional due date.

    Small Business Superannuation Clearing House

    Presenters: Ian Bullman, Kylie Osmond ATO.

    A Podcast - Talking super for employers was released in August 2019 with the following key messages:

    • the importance of employers meeting their super obligations
    • helpful products, calculators and tools to help employers
    • common errors to avoid when using the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House (SBSCH)
    • recent law changes and what they mean for employers.

    A free online education course that is designed to provide employers with an understanding of their responsibilities to provide superannuation guarantee (SG) for their eligible employees is available.

    A superannuation quick check brochure that breaks down available information into six easy steps is available. Copies can be downloaded from the ATO website. The brochure can also be emailed to interested parties. Copies of the brochure Paying super is an important part of being an employerThis link will download a file can be downloade. Hardcopies can be ordered via the ATO website or by calling 1300 720 092. The product name is NAT 75128-09.2018.

    Expansion of estimates to GST

    Presenters: Robert Charles, Marina Bagce, Phoebe Lyons ATO.

    An overview was provided to members regarding the legislation and the Commissioner’s administration of the current estimates regime. This included:

    • in what circumstances the Commissioner will use estimates
    • how often it is used by the ATO
    • calculation of amount of the estimate
    • how it is notified
    • how a taxpayer may respond
    • how often does the estimate remain in place or is it replaced by lodgments or statutory declarations.

    For a more detailed overview refer to Practice Statement Law Administration PS LA 2011/18 Enforcement measures used for the collection and recovery of tax-related liabilities and other amounts, see Annexure A to the PS LA.

    Taxable Payments Annual Report

    Presenter: Marcus Chew ATO.

    As at 25 September 2019, BAS agents now have full access to Taxable payments annual report (TPAR) functionality on ATO Online Services for Agents. A non-lodgment advice form will be introduced to ATO Online services, and be available on Online services for agents. There has been an increase in lodgments of TPAR and the number of contractors being reported on in a TPAR this financial year. More businesses are lodging electronically, and the uptake of the new ATO Online Services lodgment option has been encouraging. For more information refer to Taxable payments annual report (TPAR).

    Members felt visibility of TPAR was a priority for intermediaries including visibility of due dates and any requirement to lodge. As part of the ATO’s pre lodgment process a list of clients that are required to lodge TPAR is issued to tax practitioners.

    The ATO has conducted lodgment awareness campaigns with business in the community that may be required to lodge TPAR. Pre lodgment reminders are also sent to previous TPAR lodgers. Tax practitioners are notified that these reminders have been issued to their clients. Post lodgment date, reminder letters are issued prior to a failure to lodge penalty being imposed.

    Digital Identity

    Presenter: Ben Avery ATO.

    AUSkey will be retired at the end of March 2020 and will be replaced with myGovID and Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM).

    What’s available now:

    • myGovID app is now available to download to your Apple or Android smart device via the Apple and Google Play stores.
    • RAM is available to link your business and authorise representatives to act on behalf of your business.
    • myGovID together with RAM can now be used to access the
      • ATO Business Portal
      • Online Services for Agents – released on 24 October 2019
      • ATO Access Manager
      • Australian Business Register (ABR).
       
    • import AUSkey user functionality has been released in RAM. This supports businesses to transition existing AUSkey users, by allowing authorisations to be created in bulk based on the existing AUSkey permissions.
    • myGovIDExternal Link and RAMExternal Link website contains support materials, including how-to-guides for checking your ABR and cleaning up your AUSkey data (key pre-requisites for AUSkey transition).

    What’s coming:

    • the ATO has been actively working with AUSkey relying agencies to assist with the transition of their services. More online government services will be available from November 2019.
    • engagement and communication activities will increase for businesses and tax professionals from early November 2019.
    • to assist users with the transition key engagement activities will include access to webinars, detailed step-by-step instructional videos and guides.

    Import AUSkey user function:

    • members were provided with a walkthrough of the new process in RAM to create an authorisation for existing AUSkey users. Once accepted the user will have the same permissions to access a service with their myGovID, as they did with their AUSkey.
    • this function will minimise administrative impact for businesses with large amounts of employees currently using AUSkey.
    • in preparation for importing AUSkeys, it is recommended that businesses review their current AUSkey records and remove any AUSkeys that are no longer required by the business. This will streamline the import AUSkey user process. Currently only active AUSkeys can be imported.

    Key features and benefits:

    • reduces the time taken by the associate and/or authorised administrator to transition their employees to the new solution.
    • access manager permissions will be carried over when the AUSkeys are imported into RAM.
    • does not require user to be logged in to an AUSkey installed device.
    • employees accepting the new authorisations in RAM will follow the current RAM acceptance process.

    Other business

    In accordance with the current BASAAG charter a review of the groups membership will occur to ensure it maintains a broad representation of the BAS agent community. Existing members are welcome to put forward recommendations to be considered for BASAAG membership. Members requested a copy of the current BASAAG charter be sent to members.

    The 2020 meeting dates are to be advised. Members were invited to put forward topics for inclusion as agenda items at the next meeting.

    Meeting close

    Chairperson Kath Anderson thanked members for their contribution to the meeting.

    More information

    Tax practitioners can obtain more information on these topics from the professional association representatives. Tax practitioners should contact their representative to contribute items for future discussions.

    Attendees

    Attendees are listed below.

    Organisation

    Members

    ATO

    Kath Anderson (Chair), Individuals and Intermediaries

    ATO

    Sue Hassiotis (Secretariat), Individuals and Intermediaries

    ATO

    Andrew Watson, Small Business

    ATO

    Angela Lehmann, Superannuation and Employer Obligations

    ATO

    Ben Avery, Enterprise Solutions and Technology

    ATO

    David Baker, Individuals and Intermediaries

    ATO

    Felix Manero, Individuals and Intermediaries

    ATO

    Ian Bullman, Superannuation and Employer Obligations

    ATO

    Katrena Cawthorne, Individuals and Intermediaries

    ATO

    Ken Reid, Small Business

    ATO

    Kylie Osmond, Superannuation and Employer Obligations

    ATO

    Lorelie Roe, Small Business

    ATO

    Marcus Chew, Small Business

    ATO

    Maria-Louisa Roache, Small Business

    ATO

    Marina Bagce, Strategy and Support

    ATO

    Mary Arrowsmith, Client Account Services

    ATO

    Phoebe Lyons, Strategy and Support

    ATO

    Renee Bruce, Individuals and Intermediaries

    ATO

    Robert Charles, Strategy and Support

    ATO

    Rosie Cicchitti, Small Business

    Association of Accounting Technicians

    Cassandra Scott

    Australian Bookkeepers Association Ltd

    Kerrie Jarius

    Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

    Martine Joly

    Institute of Certified Bookkeepers

    Matthew Addison

    Tax practitioner

    Cate Kemp

    Tax practitioner

    Darren McMahon

    Tax practitioner

    Keith Clissold

    Tax practitioner

    Suzy Komuczki

    Tax Practitioners Board

    Michael O'Neill

    Apologies

    Apologies are listed below.

    Organisation

    Members

    ATO

    George Holton, Small Business

    Association of Accounting Technicians

    Rochelle Park

    Institute of Public Accountants

    Tony Greco

    Tax Practitioner

    John Birse

      Last modified: 26 Nov 2019QC 60716