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  • Individuals Stewardship Group key messages 30 May 2019

    Welcome and introduction

    The Chair welcomed members to the first meeting of the refreshed Individuals Stewardship Group (ISG) and provided background on the ATO’s consultation arrangements, the purpose of the group and expectations of members. More information about the ATO’s consultation arrangements is available on the ATO’s website.

    Members will be asked to consider nominating as a co-chair for the group, out of session.

    Single Touch Payroll

    From 1 July 2018, employers/businesses with more than 20 employees were mandated to use Single Touch Payroll (STP), with all other employers required to do so from 1 July 2019. To date more 111,000 employers are using STP, reporting pay and superannuation information for more than seven million individuals.

    For individuals, STP means that they will see all their pay and super information online through their myGov account in real time. Making this information visible will enable individuals and the ATO to take follow up action on unpaid superannuation guarantee earlier as well as identify if an individual is going to be in a debt position due to a second job or higher education contribution scheme loan.

    This Tax Time, individuals will not receive a payment summary from STP-enabled employers, rather their income statement (ie payment summaries) will be available through their myGov account or their tax agent will be able to access their information. Individuals with new myGov accounts should let their tax agent know, if they lodge their tax return through an agent, as new accounts automatically default communication to their myGov inbox.

    Income statements will need to be ‘tax ready’, ie their employer has made a ‘finalisation declaration’ by 31 July, before it is pre-filled in their tax return. Taxpayers can still use unfinalised ‘tax not ready’ information, however there is potential that their return will need to be amended.

    The ISG noted that there is a lot of communication going out through different channels, including fact sheets for STP enabled employers and their employees, to ensure individuals understand the changes. Consolidated messages will be provided to the ISG for circulation to their members.

    Tax Time 2019

    Members were walked through the expected experience individuals will have this tax time, as self-preparers who lodge through myTax, paper or a tax agent. As well as STP, other changes this tax time include:

    • private health insurers will no longer issue paper statements
    • people who have a myGov account and use secret questions and answers as authentication are being encouraged to transition to two-factor authentication (ie SMS code) and new myGov users will not be able to link to the ATO unless they have two-factor authentication
    • refinements to myTax including an increase in prefilled information, improvements to tools and calculators, links to occupation guides and further alerts and prompts to help taxpayers get their tax return right
    • support to the community through 25 pop-up booths, Tax Help centres with more locations in Northern Australia, tax clinics and black economy visits, and
    • communication and media campaign about the STP changes, scams and areas of focus such as work related expenses, rentals, recordkeeping and omitted income.

    Digital Identity Program

    The ATO's Digital Identity Program is part of the government’s broader GOVPass program which aims to make it more secure and easier for individuals and business to interact with government agencies online.

    In early June, the ATO released an iOS version of myGovID into the Apple App store (the first public beta release), which allows a user to prove who they are and access online services, as well as a relationship and authorisation management (RAM) solution which enables individuals to be authorised to act on behalf of other entities/businesses. The myGovID solution can currently be used to logon to the ATO's Business Portal with more services to be added in the future.

    The ISG were provided with a demonstration of how an individual registers their digital identity using the myGovID app, which has been extensively tested with the community, and agreed that improvements to security and confidence for the community when they interact with the ATO was really important. An update on scams and how the ATO verifies themselves when making legitimate calls to taxpayers, will be provided at the next meeting.

    Tax Clinics

    The Government has allocated funding to set up 10 tax clinics under a trial program, based on the Curtin University Tax Clinic proof of concept.

    The ATO is seeking to be facilitative through the trial which runs for 12 months. The clinics aim to support unrepresented individual or small business taxpayers by providing general taxation advice and helping them with their tax obligations and reporting requirements.

    The clinics, through identifying issues and building greater understanding of the tax system in operation, will also improve the interactions that small businesses and individual taxpayers have with the ATO. The grant includes a communication component to enable the universities to advertise these services to the community, with some already linking up to outreach services in regional and remote areas.

    The trial complements the ATO's existing range of help and support services for unrepresented taxpayers, such as Tax Help which operates during tax time.

    ISG members agreed that this was a great concept and were happy to promote the clinics through their networks.

    ATO/DHS Joint Client Approach

    The ATO and the Department of Human Services (DHS), now Services Australia, are working together to reduce problems (or pain points) faced by our mutual clients dealing with the two agencies and improving their experience when interacting with government agencies.

    Top pain points identified which are being actioned relate to:

    • out of time objections where DHS clients have their benefits from two plus years prior adjusted but needed to lodge an out of time objection to amend their income with the ATO. The ATO has changed its process for these clients, who can now lodge a simple amendment
    • tax file number (TFN) applications for DHS clients who apply for a benefit but don’t have a TFN and their benefit is delayed and often not backdated, leveraging the ATO’s new upcoming online TFN tool
    • enabling respective clients to choose the channel they prefer to interact with rather than directing them to each other’s call centre, and
    • Medicare entitlement/eligibility for new Australians who are not yet entitled to Medicare but need to apply for a certificate from Medicare each year to claim the exemption in their tax return.

    Once these have been completed, additional issues will be explored. The ISG agreed that this was a good program of work and were interested to hear how it progresses. They also noted that it’s planned that Centrelink will receive STP pay information which will assist them when providing benefits to their clients in the future and suggested that the proposed experience be discussed at an upcoming meeting.

    2019 meetings

    The dates for the two remaining meetings this year will be confirmed with members out of session.

      Last modified: 18 Jul 2019QC 59703