Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group special briefing 13 May 2020
Assistant Commissioner Frances Southward provided an update on Service Delivery activities. The ATO is still experiencing a significantly high number of calls each day. The average contact centre wait time is two and a half minutes. The average maximum wait time is 14 minutes which is a reduction from the previous two weeks.
The focus of JobKeeper questions has moved from eligibility to queries regarding when payments will be received.
We are continuing to use the ATO website to highlight the top 5 questions being asked and are working with the Communications team to identify themes.
Director Michael Karavas advised that the ATO commenced making payments to eligible employers on Thursday 7 May 2020.
Tax practitioners or employers who identify a mistake in reporting for the JobKeeper payment need to contact the ATO. We are currently looking at functionality to enable mistakes to be corrected through ATO Online Services.
We are continuing to update ATO web content in response to the most frequently asked questions.
Cash flow boost
Assistant Commissioner Kasey Macfarlane provided an update on the cash flow boost measure. Credits are being allocated to eligible businesses when they lodge their March 2020 activity statement.
The ATO is aware of some instances of eligible businesses not receiving the cash flow boost credits automatically after the lodgment of the March activity statement.
In early April the ATO used available data to determine a list of eligible entities. Since then the ATO has received lodgments and new information has become available requiring an update to this list of eligible entities.
From mid–May the ATO will deploy a system tool to update an entity’s eligibility when new information becomes available. This should see the credits flow through automatically after reducing the number of eligible businesses not receiving their cash flow boost credits. The ATO will continue to monitor instances where the tool does not resolve this issue.
There still will be a small number of cases where the ATO may need to seek further information to confirm eligibility for some entities. In accordance with current procedures these cases are being escalated and taxpayers and tax practitioners are being advised that resolution may take up to 20 days.
Next week the ATO are planning to implement a new streamlined approach for taxpayers or their advisers to provide the required information by phone. Under this approach, assuming they meet the requirements, the entity’s eligibility can be updated immediately and the cash flow boost credit they are entitled to can be applied.
Assistant Commissioner Sally Bektas provided an update on communication activities. The ATO are continuing with cash flow boost communications for eligible employers and focusing JobKeeper communication on identifying and maintaining employees. The ATO are continually looking at queries raised through a variety of channels to ensure key questions are being responded to on the ATO website.
The foundation of COVID-19 messaging is fundamentally to help the community, however from a compliance perspective the ATO know the majority of Australians are honest and doing the right thing and will work with those who make mistakes if there are any. Those that are doing the right thing will receive help. The ATO are putting processes in place to protect our systems from those who are trying to work around the system.
JobKeeper compliance focus is on providing tips, things to be aware of, and other elements and frustrations relating to the various circumstances of employees. The ATO are also working towards busting some myths in the community and highlighting current scams.
Outside of the COVID-19 measures, the ATO are still working on their bushfire response. The ATO are starting to send reminders to affected clients and their agents to advise that the automatic deferrals period is ending.
Frequently asked questions – cash flow boost
Action item TPSG06052020-01 - 6 May meeting.
How does an annual lodger avail themselves of the cash flow boost?
There are no special processes for an annual lodger to access the cash flow boost. Provided they meet all the eligibility criteria, the credit will be automatically applied to their account on lodgment of the March 2020 activity statement. Entities using the STP exemption must still lodge the activity statement to receive a cash flow boost amount for the period.
However, some annual lodgers may not have yet satisfied the requirement to provide notice to the Commissioner of assessable income or a supply made in 2018–19 where they have not lodged either:
- their 2018–19 income tax return showing that they derived assessable income in relation to carrying on a business
- their 2018–19 annual GST return or BAS showing that they made a supply in that period.
If they have a lodgment deferral or later due date (for example, under the tax agent lodgment program), an annual lodger can contact us to provide evidence that they either derived assessable business income or made a supply in 2018–19.
How does someone with a deferral avail themselves of cash flow boost?
If the business has already lodged the 2018–19 ITR or any BAS for tax periods starting from 1 July 2018 and ending before 12 March 2020, provided other eligibility requirements are met, the cash flow boost will be automatically credited on lodgment of the March 2020 activity statement even if the business has a deferral for any of other returns.
If the business has not lodged the 2018–19 ITR or any BAS for tax periods starting from 1 July 2018 and ending before 12 March 2020, and because of a deferral is not intending to lodge the March 2020 BAS, the business can provide evidence that they either derived assessable business income in 2018–19 or made a supply in a tax period starting from 1 July 2018 and ending before 12 March 2020.
How does a new business (started in December quarter) with an approved deferral (eg: bushfire zone) avail themselves of the cash flow boost?
If the new business made a supply in the December quarter, they can contact us to give us notice of that supply, and provided that the other eligibility requirements are met, the cash flow boost will be applied on lodgment of the March 2020.
Is a new annual lodger who commenced in 2019–20, or a quarterly lodger who commenced post 1 January 2020 entitled to the cash flow boost?
No they are not entitled to the cash flow boost.
Tips and links
The ATO has developed information to assist your clients with COVID-19 and residential rental property queries.
The Tax Practitioners Board has released frequently asked questionsExternal Link on the Covid-19 stimulus measures and code obligations as well as information on exercising supervision and control when working remotelyExternal Link.
Find out about Coronavirus mental wellbeing support service being provided by Beyond BlueExternal Link. You can also access up to date information through the Department of HealthExternal Link.
Summary of key topics discussed at the Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group meeting 13 May 2020.