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  • Tax Profession Digital Implementation Group key messages

    The key messages summarise the discussions at the meetings. The key messages for the last three years are available here.

    17 October 2018

    The Tax Profession Digital Implementation Group meeting was held on Wednesday 17 October 2018.

    The information below is a summary of topics discussed at the meeting.

    Tax Time 2018 reflection

    Members acknowledged that the success of Tax Time 2018 is a tribute to the ATO, digital service providers and the tax profession working together.

    Key achievements for Tax Time 2018 include:

    • Triple the volume of returns lodged through the practitioner lodgment service (PLS) channel compared to 2017.
    • Reduced processing times – lodgments via PLS are processing faster than any other channel.
    • Decreased levels of complaints received by the ATO and tax professional associations.
    • Government initiatives such as SuperStream and Single Touch Payroll are benefiting from the foundation work put into Standard Business Reporting (SBR) services.

    Tax Time 2019

    Areas for consideration for next tax time include:

    • Members recommended a process to allow the agent to flag that pre-fill is incorrect to avoid pre-issue adjustments, and an improved process for providing substantiation.
    • Speed of batch lodgments and mixed lodgments such as inclusion of BAS in batches.
    • Difficulties experienced by digital service providers in developing and testing products in preparation for tax time, due to differences between the test and production environments.

    Reasonable use of ATO digital services

    Members discussed and provided feedback on the ATO’s proposed Reasonable use of ATO digital services draft policy. The policy was developed to address the significant increase in the demand for ATO digital services from tax and BAS agents and digital service providers that, if sustained, may degrade ATO system performance and adversely impact the experience of other users.

    Members acknowledged that more automation is being built into business and practice processes and the ATO needs to look at ways to accommodate for that, but agreed that there should be an equitable experience for all professionals accessing data and using ATO systems.

    Concerns were raised about some terms used in the policy and the need to define some terms in more detail. Members also commented that some language used and sanctions referred to in the policy could be perceived as intimidating and threatening.

    Members suggested future service enhancements could include an event based or update service for client information or prefill data. This would reduce the frequency of access to ATO systems by practices using automated processes checking for changes to data or information.

    ATO Online services for agents

    Approximately 600 tax and BAS agents are currently participating in the private beta for the new ATO Online services for agents. The ATO are seeking feedback on why some participants are not using the new services and monitoring performance and usability of the services.

    The ATO plan to open the public beta to all tax practitioners in the first quarter of 2019. Members reiterated previous recommendations of not releasing to the wider community until all ‘bugs’ have been resolved and eliminated the need to return to the portal for some functionality.

    myGovID and Relationship Authorisation Manager private beta

    The ATO are delivering two core components of the GovPass program managed by the Digital Transformation Agency. The components are:

    • myGovID – users will establish their identity once and use the myGovID credential to access government services online
    • Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM) – to manage authorisations across government services, initially for business authorisations and their staff.

    Members discussed the processes to set-up myGovID and verify identities, link business authority in RAM and authorise an employee or additional user for a business, and how these may integrate into practice processes.

    A small private beta is currently underway to trial using myGovID to log in to the new online services for agents. The broader AUSkey transition plan and engagement plan is being developed based on feedback from the pilot groups.

    Work has commenced on development of the Digital Identity Service Credential (machine to machine (M2M)) high level design solution.

    Members highlighted the need for co-design and consultation with tax practitioners and digital software developers on the potential impacts on practice processes.

    Digital communications and preferencing for individuals

    Digital communication solutions will occur in a phased approach over 2019 and 2020. The first phase will deliver an agent inbox and communication preferencing for digitally-enabled correspondence for individual clients.

    The preferencing feature will provide the flexibility to update client’s preferred address for service for ATO communications. If an agent sets communication preferences to receive communications on behalf of a client, the ATO will send a digital notification directly to the agent via the new secure inbox, from which the agent will be able to retrieve the correspondence digitally. Clients and agents will both continue to be able to see all digital-enabled correspondence regardless of who receives the notification.

    The ability to set preferences will be based on the authorisation between clients and their agents that are set in ATO systems.

    The ATO is continuing to co-design with the tax practitioner community, seeking feedback on content, functionality and legal aspects. Members raised concerns about how this solution will integrate with practice processes.

    Members highlighted the need for the solution to be available in software at the same time it is released to ATO online services. Digital software providers need to be involved in co-design.

    Future priorities for software services

    The ATO has to balance its digital program of work with allocated resources, and sought member recommendations to prioritise services to be fixed or enhanced and what new services should be considered in the future program of work.

    Members discussed the release of functionality via ATO services and how this differs from what is released to the digital services providers to include in practice management software.

      Last modified: 06 Apr 2021QC 54585