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  • Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group key messages 21 February 2020

    Disaster update

    The ATO understands that taxpayers and tax practitioners are affected by bushfires and other natural disasters in different ways. There are many and varied situations and scenarios.

    We are visiting bushfire affected areas, engaging with local communities and providing sessions where people can talk about their circumstances and ask questions about how tax applies in their situation. Drawing on what the ATO and external members have heard from local communities, attendees took time to consider different scenarios, identified specific needs and mapped out possible support options for each scenario.

    We remain ready to provide further assistance to those affected and will find opportunities to work with professional associations and tax practitioners to support recovery efforts. We recognise that disasters affect people differently, and some people may not be ready to even think about their tax affairs yet, whereas others are ready to get back to business.

    Our website currently contains a range of materials including guides, worksheets and calculators to help taxpayers and their agents to work through the tax implications for losses they have suffered, and outcomes of any donations or payouts they have received. A dedicated page ato.gov.au/disaster captures the information in one place.

    In addition to our web resources we have a dedicated phone line for taxpayers and agents impacted by disasters.

    We will continue to work through the Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group to identify contemporary ways of assisting affected taxpayers and agents now and into the future.

    Modernising Business Registers

    Tax practitioners play a pivotal role in co-designing the tax and superannuation system and are in an ideal position to support the productivity, growth and innovation of the system.

    The Prime Minister recently announced a wave of deregulation reform measures and confirmed the government’s support for Modernising Business Registers (MBR).

    The new business registry system will upgrade and consolidate 32 separate business registers into a single system, allowing businesses to view, update, manage and maintain their data in one location and to transact with government in one place.

    MBR and the director ID program of work commences February 2020. The ATO has comprehensive plans to engage, consult and co-design with the business community and key stakeholders.

    In September 2017 the government announced a package of reforms to address illegal phoenix activity.

    The director ID and a range of other measures are being introduced to both deter and penalise phoenix activity. The director ID is a single unique identifier and is issued once for life. The director ID will use the appropriate identification verification that is available and acceptable to government. It will interface with other government agencies and databases to allow regulators to map the relationships between individuals and entities and individuals and other people.

    Director ID will establish confidence in knowing that the identity of company directors has been verified.

    Single touch payroll

    As at 22 January 2020, around 576,000 employers are now reporting year-to-date salary and wages, pay as you go withholding and superannuation information through single touch payroll (STP). This includes around:

    • 86,000 or 98.7% of substantial employers (20 or more employees)
    • 490,000 or 65% small employers (between 1–19 employees).

    Employers who have not started reporting can apply for a deferred STP start date via their tax agent, online or through the ATO call centre.

    BAS or tax agents who have micro employers with 1 to 4 employees that wish to use quarterly reporting are encouraged to apply on their behalf now and start reporting by 28 February 2020. After 28 February 2020, quarterly reporting will only be considered for those micro employers that have extenuating circumstances.

    No penalties will be applied to small employers in the first year, 2019–20 of STP reporting for those who make a genuine attempt to transition or for missed or late reports. After this, we will seek to understand the facts and circumstances of the individual employer prior to considering the imposition of any penalties.

    To support tax and BAS agents in assisting their small employer clients to on-board to STP, we have been sending emails since May 2019 on a quarterly basis providing a list of their clients. These emails have proven an effective way of helping agents to support their clients. The next emails will be sent in mid-February and May 2020.

    Superannuation guarantee amnesty

    The existing law requires employers to lodge Super guarantee charge (SGC) statement and pay the SGC if they have not paid their superannuation guarantee to a fund by the due date.

    Until the proposed amnestyExternal Link is enacted by Parliament, we will continue to apply the existing law to the SGC statements lodged.

    Processes and web content for the amnesty has been created or updated ready to be released when law passes, and Royal Assent received. New processes are also being developed to triage employers that have been impacted by a natural disaster and need assistance from the ATO to lodge under the amnesty.

    Small Business Superannuation Clearing House (SBSCH)

    AUSkey will retire at the end of March 2020. After this date users will not be able to use AUSkey or manage ABN connections (ABN connected to your myGov account) to access the ATO Business Portal.

    These services are being replaced with myGovID and Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM). They provide a faster, easier and more secure way to access the ATO Business Portal and other government online services.

    For more information refer to myGovID and SBSCH.

    Better as usual

    In September 2019 a new program of work called Better as usual was launched.

    The program is about continuous, systemic and sustained improvements and includes four work streams that collectively will improve the ATO’s clients’ experience with the tax system.

    • Quality improvement – the ATO has access to a wide range of information. In every complaint, objection or quality assurance result, there is an insight into a better way of doing things. The ATO needs to draw these together to develop actionable insights. Insights about client and staff experiences will also drive iterative and holistic improvements to the ATO’s systems.
    • Pipeline – this will provide an end-to-end understanding of the interactions a taxpayer has with the ATO. It will help the ATO to understand the downstream impacts of the things the ATO does and does not do, to optimise the end-to-end client and staff experience.
    • Highest client impact actions – there are times when the ATO’s actions for some clients can have a particularly high impact. The highest client impact stream is about reviewing and implementing a series of procedural and cultural safeguards to reduce and ultimately eliminate cases where the ATO’s actions cause unintentional impacts.
    • Complex issues and case program – this is a dedicated area to deal with the most difficult, contentious or organisationally significant issues and/or cases across the ATO.
      Last modified: 18 Mar 2021QC 65093