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  • 19 August 2016

    The Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group meeting was held on Friday 19 August 2016.

    The information provided below is to assist professional associations to communicate key messages to members.

    Major changes to ATO systems

    In December 2016 the ATO will move activity statement accounts to a new accounting platform. This move will lay the foundation for other key projects like the Single Touch Payroll.

    Some of the key features are:

    • efficient refund management
    • streamlined account management
    • enhanced statement of account functionality
    • improved account administration of pay as you go instalments and fringe benefits tax instalments reconciliation
    • portal requests for income tax refunds fully automated
    • consistent payment plan management for income tax and activity statement accounts,

    The transition will occur between 24 December 2016 and 3 January 2017 and will result in a number of changes for portal users that will be visible in January 2017. Additional detail will be provided in the coming months.

    Small business

    The ATO is significantly extending its investment in prevention and early intervention activities for small business including ‘new’ small business at registration and immediately after start-up.

    The intent of small business cash flow management education is for the ATO to provide new small business owners with:

    • practical, sound and relevant material on managing cash flow that helps them plan and budget to meet their obligations, including tax and super obligations, to help them avoid financial debt and stress
    • access to simple information in simple language and terminology they understand, at the right time through the right channels
    • access to useful, engaging information that builds understanding as well as, practical tools and assistance available through face to face and self-service delivery modules that provide help and assistance through early engagement and assistance.

    The package will also provide small business intermediaries with access to education material they can use to assist them deliver cash flow management content to their small business clients.

    The Cash Flow Management Program has been designed as a simple way to assist small businesses to better understand and improve their cash flow management. It has been designed for use by tax practitioners and business advisors with their clients, and will be tested further during a Pilot in late September through to November 2016. This is an opportunity to use and test the package which aims to help small businesses be successful and prevent major problems with cash flow.  Members of the Tax Practitioner Industry associations who are interested in volunteering to participate in a Pilot are invited to provide their details to the secretariat of the Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group. Pilot participants will be able to participate in a familiarisation session before using the products and asked to provide feedback on their experiences to help shape the final products.

    Improving online services

    On 3 March 2016 the Commissioner made a speech to The Tax Institute in which he made a commitment to improve online services.

    On 29 April 2016, major irritants in the client communication list were remedied. The new practitioner lodgment service is being incrementally implemented into practice management software during Tax Time 2016. Incremental release of new services to software developers is occurring to provide tax practitioners with additional functionality within practice management software by December 2016. Delivery of better online services for tax practitioners is on track for Tax Time 2017.

    More information

    Tax practitioners can obtain more information on these topics from the professional association representatives. Tax practitioners should contact their representative to contribute items for future discussions.

    Tips and links

    The tax profession is going through significant change. Open forums provide a platform for discussion on how the environment and systems are changing, and to encourage and support practitioners to get ready for these changes.

      Last modified: 27 Mar 2019QC 27350