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  • Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group special briefing 22 April 2020


    Service Delivery

    Deputy Commissioner Grant Brodie provided an update on the ATO’s call centres. The ATO is experiencing a significantly high number of calls, with calls on Tuesday 21 April 2020 being 115% higher than the same day last year – the highest on record. Common call themes include:

    • myGovID linking codes and Relationship Authorisation Manager
    • access to superannuation – how do I lodge, I need to amend the form
    • eligibility of JobKeeper for employers and employees
    • cash flow boosts for employers – general enquiries, how does it work.

    The ATO has developed a top calls about COVID-19 web page from commonly asked questions.

    Early release of superannuation

    Assistant Commissioner Sonia Corsini provided an update on the early release of superannuation. Applications for early release of superannuation opened on 20 April 2020. We have seen a steady stream and all is progressing well.

    Assistant Commissioner Corsini noted the issue around the delivery of approval SMS/emails directly to agents instead of the clients. This is the result of agent details being in the client record.

    JobKeeper measure

    Deputy Commissioner Hoa Wood advised that JobKeeper enrolments are proceeding well. ATO systems are coping with the demand and functionality improvements are being implemented based on feedback received.

    We have now developed JobKeeper facts sheets and have also released a dedicated Tax and BAS agent guide for this measure.

    Cash flow boost

    Assistant Commissioner Kasey MacFarlane provided key messages regarding the cash flow boost measure. Following system updates over the weekend 18–20 April, the cash flow boost measure has deployed. Deployment is working well, and no significant issues have been identified.

    The ATO is currently working through the backlog of BAS returns lodged in April.

    The ATO has recently updated its web content to address the cash boost measure, noting that we have removed the previous information that said that cash flow boost credits would not commence until 28 April 2020.

    Communications update

    Assistant Commissioner Sally Bektas provided an update on current website updates and communication activities. The ATO is working to ensure that information is updated on the website as quickly as possible.

    Support material for tax professionals will to be brought into the COVID-19 suite, including lodgment and payment deferral information and planned promotional activities. Information will also be provided to clarify the process to enrol their clients for JobKeeper payments in Online services for agents.


    Updated information has been published on regarding support for tax professionals:

    • Lodgment and payment deferrals will be automatically applied to the following obligations that are due on 15 May 2020
      • company 2018–19 income tax returns will now be due by 5 June 2020
      • SMSF 2018–19 annual returns will now be due by 30 June 2020.
    • 2018–19 income tax returns for individuals and trusts can be lodged by the 5 June concessional due date, provided your clients pay any liability by this date.
    • SMSF annual returns can be lodged by the 30 June concessional due date.
    • The lodgment due date for the annual 2020 FBT return for clients that are paper lodgers will be automatically deferred to 25 June 2020. The payment due date for all annual 2020 FBT returns will also be deferred to 25 June 2020; giving all lodgers further time to pay.

    Taxpayers who already have deferrals in place, including taxpayers affected by the recent bushfire disaster, will not be worse off when the blanket deferrals above are implemented. For example, self-managed superannuation funds affected by bushfires that had been given a deferral for the SMSF 2018–19 annual return of 5 June will now be given until 30 June 2020.

    Member feedback

    Members provided suggestions for web-content updates and further clarification on topics including:

    • JobKeeper
    • enrolment forms relating to correcting errors - drop down menus for quarterly enrolments, a Commissioner issued statement to advise that JobKeeper enrolments are open until the end of May
    • clarification regarding irregular or monthly pay cycles and how to treat the number of pay fortnights in some calendar months
    • turnover test - 30% drop for GST but you do not have to be registered for GST
    • re-structure rules - further clarification on what happens with employees moving between entities during a restructure
    • payment deferrals
    • RSS Feed for COVID issues only.

    Tips and links

      Last modified: 08 May 2020QC 62544